Teachers' concerns about inclusive education in Ahmedabad, India


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Teachers' concerns about inclusive education in Ahmedabad, India

  1. 1. Teachers’ concerns about inclusive education in Ahmedabad, India Rina Shah1 , Ajay Das2 , Ishwar Desai 3 and Ashwini Tiwari 4 1 Educare Learning Links Foundation; 2 Murray State University; 3 Inclusive Education Consultant; 4 Penn State University Key words: Concerns, inclusion, teachers, disabilities, India. This study was undertaken to determine the concerns of primary school teachers about the inclusion of students with disabilities in Ahmedabad, India. A total of 560 teachers, working in government-run schools, returned the completed survey. A two-part questionnaire was used in this study. Part 1 gathered information relating to per- sonal and professional characteristics of the teach- ers. Part 2 was a 21-item Likert scale titled Concerns about Inclusive Education – Gujarati. The major finding of the study was that the teachers in Ahmedabad were moderately concerned about including students with disabilities in their class- rooms. The teachers were most concerned about lack of infrastructural resources and least con- cerned about lack of social acceptance of students with disabilities in inclusive education classrooms. Significant differences existed in teacher concerns based on the following background variables: gender, qualifications in special education, teaching experience and number of students with disabilities in class. A number of implications are discussed to address teacher concerns for inclusive education in India. During the past three decades, countries around the world have progressively been more concerned in ensuring the rights to education of all children irrespective of any disad- vantage or disability. India too, gradually welcomed this trend towards inclusive education. This has been reflected in its various policy measures and initiatives since the 1970s, culminating in the enactment of the historic legislation The Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act, 1995. Subsequently, a number of other policy, programmes and legislation initia- tives of Indian government, most notably Sarva Siksha Abhiyan [Education for All Movement] in 2001, Action Plan for Inclusive Education of Children and Youth with Disabilities in 2005, and Right to Education (RTE) Act in 2010 further strengthened this imperative. These initiatives, in enshrining the right of children with disabilities to be educated in regular classroom settings, make it obligatory on the part of regular classroom teachers to be aware of the implications of inclusion as a responsi- bility of their normal teaching task. They need to not only be ready and willing to include students with disabilities into their classrooms, but also to acquire the requisite skills and competencies to deal with the practical aspects of an inclusive education situation (Bhatnagar and Das, 2013a; Bindal and Sharma, 2010; Das, Gichuru and Singh, 2013). Because of the central role the teachers play in the imple- mentation of policy relating to inclusive education, con- cerns of teachers regarding the process of change associated with such an innovation become crucial and need to be identified and systematically addressed. Such a step will engender teacher support for inclusive education pro- grammes and make teachers forthcoming in effectively con- fronting and overcoming the challenges and obstacles that typically occur during the implementation of educational reforms. Concomitantly, if teacher concerns and needs for implementing inclusive education programmes are not identified and addressed, it would place a considerable strain on teachers (Ince, 2012). Furthermore, if fears, anxi- eties, doubts and concerns about inclusive education remain unresolved, it will constitute a major impediment for teach- ers and students to be successful in inclusive settings (Bhatnagar and Das, 2013b). The experiences from countries where inclusive education has been implemented has shown that bringing about sys- temic changes in education is difficult. It is especially dif- ficult when such changes are mandated by ‘external forces’ and require a redefinition of roles and responsibilities on the part of those charged with the implementation of these changes (Ince, 2012). With regard to the Indian context, recent initiatives by the central government have made it incumbent on all schools falling under state government jurisdictions to move beyond a separate, parallel structure towards a unified, inclusive system of education that serves all students together. In such a unified model, regular edu- cation teachers are required to assume a major role in the development and implementation of instructional pro- grammes for all students, including those with disabilities. As Mamlin (1999) states, although the implementation of a school reform such as inclusion might occur at the state, district and building level, the most important of these needs to happen at the classroom level. Bhatnagar and Das (2013a) also assert that it would be naïve to assume that an bs_bs_banner Journal of Research in Special Educational Needs · Volume •• · Number •• · 2013 ••–•• doi: 10.1111/1471-3802.12054 1© 2013 NASEN
  2. 2. enabling legislative framework for inclusion would ensure the development and implementation of appropriate inclu- sive education programmes. They maintain that the critical factors for its success are the positive attitudes and compe- tencies of classroom teachers, who are directly involved in the implementation of inclusive education programmes. Likewise, the beliefs of teachers regarding acceptance of inclusive practices will affect the degree to which the teach- ers will carry out that duty (Forlin, Keen and Barrett, 2008). Literature has consistently shown that it is the willingness of regular classroom teachers that has ensured successful inclusion programmes. On the other hand, if regular class- room teachers have negative perceptions regarding inclu- sion, then such perceptions will act as serious barriers (Cawley, Hayden, Cade et al., 2002; Das, Kuyini and Desai, 2013) and jeopardise their effective implementation (Van Reusen, Shoho and Barker, 2001). Therefore, it is important that teachers’ concerns about the implementation of such reforms be taken into account. An analysis of comments made by teachers in surveys on inclusion suggests that many teachers admit to having feel- ings of anxiety and inability to meet the demands of stu- dents with disabilities who had been placed in their classrooms (Bhatnagar and Das, 2013b; Forlin, Keen and Barrett, 2008). The common concerns that are recurrently expressed by educators regarding inclusion include the fol- lowing: concerns about negative attitudes (Bhatnagar, 2006; Bhatnagar and Das, 2013b), concerns about physical acces- sibility (Avramidis, Bayliss and Burden, 2000), concerns about behaviour problems (Forlin and Chambers, 2011), concerns about class size (Oswald and Swart, 2011; Singal, 2008), concerns about meeting the educational needs of students with and without disabilities (Avissar, 2003; Daane, Beirne-Smith and Latham, 2000), concerns about designing and implementing curriculum and instructional adaptations (Katsiyannis, Ellenburg and Acton, 2000; Scruggs and Mastropieri, 1996), concerns about evaluation, grades and diplomas (Hargrove, 2000), concerns about additional work and responsibility (Forlin, Keen and Barrett, 2008), concerns about teacher stress (Williams and Gersch, 2004), concerns about financial support (Bhatnagar and Das, 2013a), concerns about inadequate teaching mate- rials and equipment (Oswald and Swart, 2011), concerns about lack of specialised personnel (Pivik, McComas and LaFlamme, 2002), concerns about lack of support from school administrator/school principal (Werts, Wolery, Snyder et al., 1996), concerns about time and scheduling issues (Simpson, de Boer-Ott, & Smith-Myles, 2003) and concerns about lack of training in special education (Bhatnagar, 2006; Ghesquière, Moors, Maes et al., 2002). These concerns provide a framework to policy-makers and administrators to address potential teacher concerns in India. A systematic exploration, however, is warranted in an Indian context as most of these concerns were identified in a western setting. Theoretical framework The conceptual model of ‘Practical Theory and Action’, espoused by Handal and Lauvas (1987), was adopted for this study to explain teacher concerns for inclusive educa- tion. This theoretical model was devised to clarify the work of teachers by identifying various factors which influence teachers’ decisions to behave in particular ways when car- rying out their tasks as part of their teaching practice (see Figure 1). The contents of the theory include elements derived from teachers’ value or belief systems, knowledge about teaching (both theory and practice), personal experi- ences, and experience derived from others and from the wider ethical, political and cultural context. These ele- ments, which are closely interrelated, determine the ‘behavioural intentions’ of teachers regarding particular phenomena (in this study, various ‘elements’ constitute the ‘background variables’, and the ‘behavioural intentions of teachers regarding a particular phenomenon’ constitute ‘concerns about inclusive education’). ‘Behavioural inten- tion’is a distinct psychological construct which represents a Figure 1: Practical theory and action Source: Adapted from G. Handal and P. Lauvas, Promoting Reflective Teaching: Supervision in Action, Milton Keynes: Open University Press, 1987. In Controversies in Management: Issues, Debates, Answers. A. B. Thomas. London: Routledge, p. 93. Journal of Research in Special Educational Needs, •• ••–•• 2 © 2013 NASEN
  3. 3. person’s motivation or desire to exert effort to carry out a behaviour. Handal and Lauvas (1987) identified various factors, which influence teachers’ decisions to behave in particular ways when carrying out their tasks as part of their teaching prac- tice (see Figure 1). The theory suggests that every teacher is equipped with a ‘practical theory’ of teaching, which deter- mines how that teacher teaches. This theory is a kind of map, which enables the teacher to locate current problems and situations in a meaningful context (daily classroom context) and so enable them to teach effectively. The contents of the theory, as indicated earlier, include elements derived from personal experiences as well as those derived from others and from the wider cultural context. It may include, for example, various elements, such as: (1) lessons learned from one’s own attempt at teaching; (2) assumptions about the role of the teacher, which are wide- spread in society; (3) ideas drawn from formal scientific theories; (4) suggestions made by colleagues about how to teach; (5) insights from the latest conceptual and research literature; and (6) ethical elements, including beliefs about authority, co-operation and competition, honesty, fairness and justice, power and punishment, importance of money, fair-dealing, caring for all students and the environment, etc. (Thomas, 2003). Applying this theory to the issue of inclusive education, the researcher suggests that not only the values, knowledge and experiences (personal/background factors) of regular school teachers but also, as a natural corollary, their con- cerns about inclusive education, which are influenced by these teachers’ personal/background factors, will have a significant impact on their teaching practice. It can, there- fore, be concluded that the ‘practical theory of a teacher’ informs the teacher’s decisions and its potential contribu- tion to the formation of actual teaching practice (which includes the classroom practice of including students with disabilities into their regular classrooms). Teacher concerns about inclusive education in India There have been some attempts to identify teacher concerns about inclusive education in India. Our literature review yielded three research projects that systematically explored teacher concerns about inclusion in India. In the earliest study, Sharma (2001) examined the concerns of 310 primary school principals and 484 teachers working in gov- ernment schools in Delhi. He found that both principals and teachers were concerned about the lack of resources (such as special education teachers and para-professional staff), the non-availability of instructional materials, the lack of funding and the lack of training to implement inclusive education. In another research paper, Bhatnagar (2006) con- ducted a survey of 470 regular school teachers in Delhi and reported ‘moderate levels of concerns’ among these teach- ers for the implementation of inclusive education. The teachers reported a number of concerns including poor infrastructure, financial limitations, large class sizes, lack of trained teachers and negative attitudes of teachers among others. The third study was conducted by Sharma, Moore and Sonawane (2009) with 478 pre-service teachers enrolled at Pune University in the state of Maharashtra. Respondents in this study indicated moderate level of con- cerns about including students with special needs in their classrooms. The authors further reported that ‘participants were most concerned about lack of resources (e.g., lack of funds, lack of para-professional staff and inappropriate infrastructure)’ (p. 326). In addition to these three research studies that specifically explored teacher concerns for inclusion, a number of researchers including Das (2001), Jangira, Singh and Yadav (1995), and Singal (2008) explored teacher readiness for inclusion and reported that the regular school teachers in India did not consider themselves to be competent in meeting the needs of students with disabilities. Das (2001) conducted a needs assessment of 223 primary and 130 secondary regular school teachers in Delhi and reported that the teachers did not perceive themselves to be competent in a majority of the skills needed in teaching students with disabilities, for example, knowledge of disabling condi- tions, procedures required in developing and implementing individualised education programs (IEPs), and government policies and programmes for children with disabilities. Jangira, Singh and Yadav (1995) conducted a nationwide survey of teachers in seven states and reported that the teachers needed training in the following skills such as multi-grade teaching and play-way techniques for teaching among others. Singal (2008) explored variables associated with inclusion and reported their impact on the implemen- tation of inclusive education in India. She conducted a qualitative study utilising teacher interviews in schools located in Delhi. Participants in her study reported large class size as a major barrier in the implementation of inclu- sion programmes in their schools. In so far as the state of Gujarat is concerned, there seems to have been no research on the perceptions of teachers regard- ing their views on various aspects of inclusive education, including their concerns, even though much of the future success of inclusion will depend on the willingness of teachers to implement such programmes in their schools. Given that the Government of Gujarat has established a number of inclusive schools and is continually expanding these across the state in line with the spirit of the RTE Act 2010, seemed timely therefore to conduct this study on the concerns of primary school teachers regarding the inclusion of students with disabilities into their classrooms in Ahmed- abad, a major city in Gujarat. The objectives of this study were: 1 To identify the concerns of primary school teachers in Ahmedabad regarding the inclusion of students with disabilities into their regular classrooms; 2 To determine if significant relationships exist between these teachers’ concerns about inclusive education and selected factors in their personal and professional backgrounds. The factors included gender, age, caste, academic qualifications, professional teaching Journal of Research in Special Educational Needs, •• ••–•• 3© 2013 NASEN
  4. 4. qualifications, qualifications in special education, teaching experience, length of experience in teaching students with disabilities, class size and number of students with disabilities in class. Method Participants and setting The respondents in this study were primary school teachers working in regular inclusive schools in Ahmedabad, Gujarat. The city of Ahmedabad is divided into six admin- istrative zones. Of these, five are administered by the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC): East, West, North, South and Central. The sixth zone falls under the administration of the Ahmedabad Urban Development Authority (AUDA). All schools within each of the five AMC zones are managed by either The Municipal School Board or The District Primary and Secondary Education Department (urban area). Schools located in the AUDA zone are managed by The District Primary and Secondary Education Department (rural area). Acluster sampling method was used to select participants for this study. A two-step process was utilised for this purpose. Step 1 involved the identification of all regular inclusive primary schools falling within the six zones. The total number of these schools was 187: East Zone, 22; West Zone, 79; North Zone, 26; South Zone, 12; Central Zone, 17; and AUDA Zone, 31. The schools within each of these zones were placed in alphabetical order. In order to ensure that a representative sample of schools was chosen from each of the six zones, a decision was made to select approximately 50% of schools from which to draw the study population. Using a table of random numbers, a sample of inclusive schools from each zone was identified. This procedure resulted in the identification of a total of 98 inclusive primary schools from where the study population was to be drawn. In step 2, all teachers working in the randomly selected inclusive primary schools (n = 98) were invited to complete the survey questionnaires. The number of teachers working in these 98 schools was 1040. Of the questionnaires distrib- uted to the teachers, 630 were finally returned. Seventy survey questionnaires were not included in the final sam- ple because of insufficient or missing vital information. Therefore, 560, or 60.58% of the total population of primary school teachers who responded, were recognised as respondents and included in the final sample (see Table 1). Research design and instrumentation A survey design was used in this study. A two-part survey questionnaire was used to collect data from the respondents. Part 1 was designed to gather information relating to per- sonal and professional characteristics. Part 2, entitled ‘Con- cerns about Inclusive Education-Gujarati version (CIE-G) Scale’, was a 21-item Likert scale designed to collect data on the teachers’ concerns regarding inclusive education. The Likert-type classification was labelled extremely con- cerned (4), very concerned (3), a little concerned (2) or not concerned at all (1) to measure the level of educators’ concerns. The scale yields score values ranging from 21 to 84 points, with higher scores indicating greater levels of concerns. The content validity of the scale was assessed by a panel of educators and experts in the field of special education. This scale was adapted from the original con- cerns about integrated education scale (CIES) which was developed by Sharma and Desai (2002). The adaptation procedure of the original CIES for this study comprised of four steps, namely, step 1: translation of the CIES into Gujarati; step 2: review of the Gujarati draft of the CIES; step 3: pilot study; and step 4: final scale. Sub- sequent to data collection, reliability and factor analysis were undertaken for the CIE-G Scale. The reliability analy- sis of the CIE-G scale showed an alpha coefficient of 0.91, suggesting that it was a reliable scale to be used for further analysis (DeVellis, 2003). In order to determine the factor structure of the CIE-G scale, the responses obtained from the final study sample of teachers (N = 560) were subjected to factor analysis. This process yielded five factors, which indicated that teacher concerns were a multi-dimensional construct. The composition of item loadings clearly indi- cated that the emerging dimensions were factor I (concerns about academic achievement and standards), factor II (con- cerns about infrastructural resources), factor III (concerns about self-efficacy), factor IV (concerns about motivation) and factor V (concerns about social acceptance). The factors were named according to the nature of item loading on each factor. Table 1: Sample of teachers surveyed and their response and selection rates (N = 560) Educational zone Total number of integrated primary schools Number of schools randomly selected for the study Number of teachers surveyed Number of teachers responded Number of teachers selected for the final study East 22 13 101 81 72 West 79 38 255 183 165 North 26 17 206 102 96 South 12 6 101 48 35 Central 17 9 124 47 31 AUDA 31 15 253 169 161 Total 187 98 1040 630 560 AUDA, Ahmedabad Urban Development Authority. Journal of Research in Special Educational Needs, •• ••–•• 4 © 2013 NASEN
  5. 5. Results Personal and professional characteristics of the participants The study population constituted 560 teachers working in inclusive primary schools located in six administrative zones of Ahmedabad. The background information on the teachers was obtained from their responses to the 10 ques- tions contained in part 1 of the survey questionnaire. A ‘composite’ profile of the 560 respondents would present the following ‘typical teacher’ a relatively young female teacher below the age of 35 years belonging to the general caste and holding a basic academic qualification. In addi- tion, she would have acquired at least an initial teaching qualification in general education. Since completing her formal study programme in education, she would probably have taught for over 10 years. This would have included at least 4 or more years of teaching students with disabilities. In general, she would be in charge of a class that has no less than some 41 students. Table 2 provides information on the teachers’ background variables. Teacher concerns In order to determine the teachers’ concerns regarding inclusive education, their responses on CIE-G were exam- ined. The means for each of the items of the CIE-G were computed. A mean score of 2.0 or above would indicate teachers’ concern for an item, whereas a mean score below 2.0 would indicate that the teachers are not concerned about that item. A mean score of 3 or above would indicate a higher level of concern among teachers, whereas a mean score between 2 and 3 would indicate a moderate level of concerns. The concerns mean score of the teachers in this study was 2.31. It can, therefore, be concluded that the teachers in Ahmedabad had a moderate level of concerns about implementing inclusive education practices. In order to further understand teacher concerns on various factors of CIE-G, the means and standard deviations for the five factors were computed and ranked in order from the highest mean scores to the lowest mean scores (see Table 3). Higher mean factor scores are indicative of a greater level of concern. An inspection of the results repre- sented in Table 2 indicates that the teachers expressed their highest level of concern about ‘infrastructural resources’ (factor II), followed by ‘self-efficacy’ (factor III), ‘motiva- tion’ (factor IV) and ‘academic achievement and standards’ (factor I), and their lowest level of concern is about ‘social acceptance’ (factor V). Teachers’ concerns according to their background variables Table 4 presents the means and standard deviations of the teachers’ composite scores on the CIE-G, broken down by the background variables. High mean values are indicative of a higher level of concerns about inclusive education. Examination of the data presented in Table 4 show that those teachers who had four to seven students with disabili- ties in their class appear to have the highest level of con- cerns about inclusive education. The data also reveals that those teachers, who were aged 46 years and over held an undergraduate academic qualification, had extensive teach- ing experience (over 10 years) and had not taught children with disabilities, were also concerned about including stu- dents with disabilities into their classrooms. An inspection of the mean scores obtained for the catego- ries related to ‘gender’, ‘age’, ‘caste’ and ‘professional teaching qualifications’ indicates that female teachers, teachers falling in the 36–45 years age group, teachers belonging to the scheduled tribes and general castes, and teachers who held professional teaching qualifications reflected relatively slightly less concerns than their col- leagues described earlier. Nonetheless, they appeared to be more concerned than the rest of their colleagues who fell Table 2: Distribution of teachers by their background variables Category N Percentage (%) Gender Male 95 17.0 Female 465 83.0 Age 35 years and under 263 47.0 36–45 years 169 30.1 46 years and over 128 22.9 Caste Scheduled tribes (ST) 33 5.9 Scheduled castes (SC) 35 6.2 Academic qualifications Undergraduate 225 40.2 Graduate 246 43.9 Postgraduate 89 15.9 Professional teaching qualifications Yes 331 59.1 No 229 40.9 Qualifications in special education Yes 102 18.2 No 458 81.8 Table 3: Teachers’ mean rank order scores on the five factors of the CIE-G Factors of the CIE-G M SD N Concerns about infrastructural resources 2.56 0.84 560 Concerns about self-efficacy 2.38 0.77 560 Concerns about motivation 2.34 0.93 560 Concerns about academic achievement and standards 2.15 0.79 560 Concerns about social acceptance 2.13 0.65 560 Total score 2.31 0.65 560 CIE-G, Concerns about Inclusive Education-Gujarati version; M, mean; SD, standard deviation. Journal of Research in Special Educational Needs, •• ••–•• 5© 2013 NASEN
  6. 6. into the following categories: male teachers, teachers below 35 years of age, teachers belonging to the scheduled and the Bakshipanch (Social educational backward caste) castes, teachers holding graduate and postgraduate academic quali- fications but who did not hold professional or special edu- cation teaching qualifications, teachers having teaching experience of less than 10 years, teachers having experience in teaching students with disabilities, teachers who had less than 20 students in their class, and teachers who did not have students with disabilities in their class. In order to determine whether any of these observed dif- ferences between teachers’ mean scores on the CIE-G were significantly related to the background variables, analyses of variance (anovas) were computed. Table 5 presents a summary of the anovas with teachers’ back- ground factors as the independent variables and teachers’ mean scores on the CIE-G as the dependent variable. An examination of the data summarised in Table 5 reveals that: 1 There were significant differences between male and female teachers regarding their concerns about including students with disabilities into their classes (F = 4.80; P < .05). Female teachers had a significantly higher level of concern than male teachers. 2 There was a significant difference in the level of concerns between those teachers who had qualifications in special education and those who did not (F = 7.44; P < .05). Teachers without a special education qualification had significantly higher levels of concerns about including students with disabilities into their classes than teachers with a qualification in special education. 3 There were significant differences in concerns about inclusive education between the teachers who had varying lengths of teaching experience (F = 2.73; P < .05). However, the post hoc analysis using Scheffe’s test did not yield significant differences between the mean rating scores for any of the four groups of teachers. (group 1 includes teachers with less than 2 years of teaching experience, group 2 refers to teachers with 3–5 years teaching experience, group 3 includes teachers with 6–9 years teaching experience and group 4 includes teachers with 10 or more years teaching experience). Nonetheless, the trend was for group 4 to have a higher level of concern about integrated education than groups 1, 2 and 3 as may be observed from the means and standard deviations for the four groups contained in Table 5. 4 There were significant differences in concerns among the teachers that had a class size of less than 20 students (group 1), 21–40 students (group 2) and more than 40 students (group 3) (F = 4.67; P < .05). The Scheffe’s test yielded a significant difference at the .05 level between the mean rating scores of groups 1 and 2 and groups 1 and 3, with groups 2 (Mean = 49.68) and 3 (Mean = 49.25) showing a higher level of concern than group 1 (Mean = 42.93). There was also a significant difference between the mean rating score of group 2 and group 3 with group 2 showing a higher level of concern about inclusive education than group 3. No significant differences in concerns about inclusive education were found for any of the other background variables. Data were further analyzed by applying Pearson Product Moment Correlations to determine if the teachers’ concerns were significantly related to their selected personal and professional characteristics. First, a series of correlations was computed between the scores on the CIE-G and each of the 10 background variables. Table 6 presents the intercorrelations among the 10 background variables as well as their correlations with teachers’ concerns about inclusive education as measured by the CIE-G. The data indicates varying degrees of relationships between teach- ers’ concerns about inclusive education and the selected personal and professional characteristics. As can be seen, the factor correlating highly with teachers’ concerns about inclusive education was gender of the teachers (r = .092; Table 4: Teachers’ mean concern scores according to selected background variables (N = 560) Background variable N CIE-G (mean) SD Gender Male 95 46.09 14.92 Female 465 49.43 13.25 Age 35 years and under 263 47.89 12.90 36–45 years 169 49.32 13.96 46 years and over 128 50.27 14.43 Caste Scheduled tribes (ST) 33 49.42 12.89 Scheduled castes (SC) 35 48.31 10.43 Bakshipanch (SEBC) 61 48.68 11.97 General 431 48.89 14.11 Academic qualifications Undergraduate 225 50.36 14.23 Graduate 246 47.91 13.17 Postgraduate 89 47.73 12.88 Professional teaching qualifications Yes 331 49.65 13.92 No 229 47.72 13.04 Qualifications in special education Yes 102 45.56 12.65 No 458 49.60 13.70 Total number of years of teaching experience 2 years and under 117 48.35 13.59 3–5 years 85 46.41 11.31 6–9 years 55 46.21 13.48 10 years and over 303 50.24 14.07 CIE-G, Concerns about Inclusive Education-Gujarati version; SD, stan- dard deviation. Journal of Research in Special Educational Needs, •• ••–•• 6 © 2013 NASEN
  7. 7. P < .05), with male teachers tending to be significantly less concerned about having students with disabilities in their classes than their female counterparts. Teachers’ concerns were also positively correlated, though not as highly, with the number of students in class (class size) (r = .084; P < .05). There was also a significant negative correlation between teachers’ concerns and their qualifications in special education (r = −.115; P < .05). In the light of the assigned values given to this variable (see Table 6), this finding indicates that those teachers who had qualifications in special education tended to have lower levels of concern than teachers who did not have such qualifications. None of Table 5: anova summary of CIE-G scores according to teachers’ background variables Background variable Source SS d.f. MS F Significance Gender Between Ss 880.958 1 880.958 4.797 .029* Within Ss 102466.526 558 183.632 Age Between Ss 537.935 2 268.967 1.457 .234 Within Ss 102809.549 557 184.577 Caste Between Ss 23.290 3 7.763 .042 .989 Within Ss 103324.194 556 185.835 Academic qualifications Between Ss 837.742 2 418.871 2.276 .104 Within Ss 102509.742 557 184.039 Professional teaching qualifications Between Ss 503.847 1 503.847 2.734 .099 Within Ss 102843.637 558 184.308 Qualifications in special education Between Ss 1358.995 1 1358.995 7.435 .007* Within Ss 101988.489 558 182.775 Total number of years of teaching experience Between Ss 1501.469 3 500.490 2.732 .043* Within Ss 101846.015 556 183.176 Length of experience in teaching students with disabilities Between Ss 498.643 3 166.214 .899 .442 Within Ss 102848.841 556 184.980 Number of students in class (class size) Between Ss 1702.608 2 851.304 4.665 .010* Within Ss 101644.876 557 182.486 Number of students with disabilities in class Between Ss 401.957 3 133.986 .724 .538 Within Ss 102945.527 556 185.154 *P < .05. CIE-G, Concerns about Inclusive Education-Gujarati version; d.f., degrees of freedom; MS, mean of squares; SS, sum of squares. Table 6: Pearson product moment correlations for scores on CIE-G and selected background variables Variables 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 1. Teachers’ concerns about integrated education 1.000 .092* .072 −.001 −.081 .070 .115** .079 −.035 .084 * .018 2. Gender 1.000 .001 .000 .000 .001 −.046 −.053 .015 .011 .030 3. Age 1.000 .075 .245** .303** .170** .479** .078 .112** −.037 4. Caste 1.000 .036 .000 .059 .023 .080 .107 * .059 5. Academic qualifications 1.000 −.060 .175** .355** .079 −.034 .026 6. Professional teaching qualifications 1.000 −.342** .442** .165** .096 * .013 7. Qualifications in special education 1.000 .199** −.024 .128** .023 8. Total number of years of teaching experience 1.000 −.018 .209** −.062 9. Length of experience in teaching students with disabilities 1.000 −.053 .104* 10. Number of students in class (class size) 1.000 −.039 11. Number of students with disabilities in class 1.000 *P < .05; **P < .01. CIE-G, Concerns about Inclusive Education-Gujarati version. Journal of Research in Special Educational Needs, •• ••–•• 7© 2013 NASEN
  8. 8. the other background variables were significantly related to teachers’ concerns about inclusive education. Discussion This study investigated the concerns of primary school teachers regarding the inclusion of students with disabilities into their regular classrooms in Ahmedabad, India. Interest- ingly, only three studies appear to have systematically investigated this issue in India to date. The studies con- ducted by Sharma (2001), Bhatnagar (2006), and Sharma, Moore and Sonawane (2009) emphasised that in order for inclusive education programmes to be successful, it is crucial that the needs and concerns of educators be identi- fied and systematically addressed. An understanding of reported teacher concerns regarding implementation of an inclusive education programme, especially in the local context, may be critical to its effective implementation. However, there appears to be no equivalent data on teacher concerns in Ahmedabad or in the state of Gujarat. The mean factor concern score in this study was 2.31 which was higher than the mean factor score obtained by Sharma (2001). He reported a mean score of 2.20 when he employed the CIES with school teachers in Delhi. The sample of teachers in both of these studies was drawn from government-run schools in India. It was found that teachers in Ahmedabad were significantly more concerned than teachers in Delhi. This finding is not surprising considering that, generally, educators in Delhi probably have greater awareness and knowledge regarding inclusive education policies and special education laws as many national-level organisations in the field of disability (e.g., Rehabilitation Council of India) are based there. Furthermore, research has indicated (Riley, 1997; Sharma, 2001) that when teachers have knowledge about laws and regulations related to inclu- sive education, it reduces their concerns. In another study on teacher concerns in India, Bhatnagar (2006) collected data drawn from the sample of regular school teachers employed at a large private organisation in Delhi and reported a mean scale score of 2.37. An elevated level of concerns by these teachers may be explained by the administration’s expectations and contextual variables of the private organisation. Bhatnagar (2006) further reported the following scores for various CIES factors: lack of resources (2.76), decline in academic standard of the class- rooms (2.33) and lack of acceptance of students with special needs (2.32). The teachers’ concerns on these three factors ranged from a mild to moderate category. Factor 4 (concerns about increased workload in inclusive settings, mean = 1.99) on the other hand failed to meet the minimum requirement for it to be considered as a concern. Another study by Sharma, Moore and Sonawane (2009) explored the concerns of pre-service teachers enrolled at Pune University in the state of Maharashtra using CIES. These researchers obtained a mean score of 2.25 and reported the pre-service teachers having a moderate level of concern. With regard to the mean scores on individual factors of CIES, the respondents indicated the highest level of concerns about lack of resources (2.35) followed by concerns about increased work load (2.29), lack of accep- tance of students with disabilities (2.26) and declining aca- demic standards associated with the inclusion of children with disabilities in their classes (2.12). Similar results were found in studies that were conducted on teacher concerns in overseas countries using CIES. For example, Sharma, Loreman, Forlin et al. (2006) identified the concerns of the pre-service teachers in four countries. They reported concern mean scores of 2.21, 2.25, 2.62 and 2.68 for the teachers from Canada, Australia, Singapore and Hong Kong, respectively. In another study, Bradshaw and Mundia (2006) found the concern mean score of 2.70 among 166 pre-service teachers in Brunei. In order to further explore the relationship between teach- ers’ concerns about inclusive education and their back- ground variables, factor analyses were conducted. Analysis identified five discrete dimensions of teacher concerns thereby revealing that ‘teacher concerns about inclusive education’ is a multidimensional construct. The five inter- preted factors indicating the measurement of concerns of teachers about inclusive education were as follows: (1) con- cerns about academic achievements and standards; (2) con- cerns about infrastructural resources; (3) concerns about self-efficacy; (4) concerns about motivation; and (5) con- cerns about social acceptance. In line with this finding in the present study, Sharma’s (2001) study also found teacher concerns to be a multidimensional construct which revealed four factors: concerns about resources, concerns about acceptance, concerns about academic standards and con- cerns about workloads. The finding that teacher concerns may be represented as a multidimensional construct may provide a basis for a better structured investigation of intri- cate relationships of teachers’ concerns about including students with disabilities into their regular classroom pro- grammes. The results of this study revalidate that the CIES possesses adequate reliability and validity to justify its use in assessing educators’ concerns about inclusive education. Estimates about sub-scale reliabilities show a level of inter- nal consistency which is adequate to permit the use of factor scores for inter-group comparisons. Concerns about infrastructural resources Concerns about infrastructural resources (financial, human and physical) have been the highest in all of the studies on this topic in India including this one. The mean score for this factor in the present study was 2.56, whereas it was 2.76 for Bhatnagar (2006) and 2.35 for Sharma, Moore and Sonawane (2009). In addition, research conducted in overseas countries also reported lack of resources as a major impediment to the implementation of inclusion programmes (Fayez and Kholoud, 2011; Sigafoos and Elkins, 1994). There are obvious implications for policy-makers in India who are charged with resource allocation. Without an allocation of appropriate resources, inclusion initiatives of the Govern- ment of India will not be sustained. Journal of Research in Special Educational Needs, •• ••–•• 8 © 2013 NASEN
  9. 9. Moreover, teachers’ perceptions that they can have an impact on the educational outcomes of students with dis- abilities strengthen with access to appropriate resources and support to implement inclusive education programmes. Teachers’ perceived level of availability of infrastructural resource support may affect their confidence in working with students with disabilities. In this regard, Bhatnagar (2006) points out that teacher confidence and the provision of support are significantly related to teachers’ willingness to include students with disabilities into their classrooms. Lack of additional support led to low level of confidence in writing IEPs, adapting teaching materials and curriculum, managing behavioural problems, giving individual assis- tance and writing behavioural objectives. These skills are not only critical for inclusion to be successful but are nec- essary to efficiently teach all students (Buell, Hallam, Gamel-McCormick et al., 1999). In addition, sufficient resource support increases positive teacher attitudes (Bhatnagar and Das, 2013b). The provision of educational services in inclusive class- rooms necessitates modifications in the teaching practices of classroom teachers. A range of resources and support is, therefore, often necessary to assist teachers in formulating and implementing the requisite modifications and in pro- viding quality services to students with disabilities. Stu- dents with disabilities need specialised instructions, tools, techniques, assistive devices and equipment, which not only calls for increased financial resources, but also suggests the need for policy analysis related to distribution of such resources. A number of researchers have affirmed the criti- cal importance of resource allocation for successful inclu- sion (Bhatnagar, 2006; Forlin and Chambers, 2011). Inclusion programmes require the availability of a cadre of specialists, including special educators who provide consis- tent support and comprehensive services to students with disabilities and their families. Therefore, schools need per- sonnel with the necessary training and experience to work effectively with students who have disabilities. School policy changes can facilitate a more holistic and interdisci- plinary approach to education if roles and responsibilities of school personnel are redefined in the context of inclusion. Several studies have indicated the necessity of special edu- cation teachers, para-professionals and other related profes- sionals (Bradshaw and Mundia, 2006; Forlin and Chambers, 2011) to support regular classroom teachers in the implementation of inclusion programmes. Conse- quently, policy-makers and school administrators in India must direct their efforts based on research outcomes and adaptation of effective models of inclusion within the local context to restructure the policy framework and school organisation in a manner which is conducive to providing the necessary resources to ensure an effective and an equi- table educational experience for students with disabilities. The study has some limitations that should be noted when interpreting the results. First, the study is limited to the concerns of primary school teachers teaching in inclusive schools located in the six administrative zones of Ahmed- abad. Therefore, caution should be exercised in generalising the results of this investigation to other populations. Second, variables other than those investigated in this study might have had a significant influence on teacher concerns regarding inclusive education in Ahmedabad (e.g., teachers having a special needs child in their family, the level of confidence teachers have in teaching students with a dis- ability, etc.). Third, there are inherent limitations of self- report surveys which should be recognised. There will always remain some doubt as to what degree the partici- pants’ responses reflect their true concerns. Notwithstand- ing these limitations, the study does offer several important implications for those charged with the responsibility of planning and implementing inclusive education pro- grammes in Gujarat. Conclusion As schools in India become more inclusive because of gov- ernment initiatives in the last three decades, a greater number of students with disabilities are being placed in regular education classrooms (Bindal and Sharma, 2010). Thus, at the classroom level, redefinition of the roles and responsibilities of teachers becomes a critical part of the reform effort to improve the delivery of services to students with disabilities. However, the degree to which teachers are ready and willing to support this reform effort is often determined by the attitudes, concerns and underpinning values that they hold regarding inclusion. The positive atti- tudes, beliefs and perceptions of teachers regarding imple- mentation of inclusive education programmes in their classrooms, therefore, become a potent force if schools are to reduce the disparities between the statutory mandate to provide for the education of all children and their actual level of current service delivery. It is apparent from the findings of the present study that when inclusion of a child with disability into regular class- rooms has to be realised, the school curriculum, teaching- learning practices and assessment procedures must be in alignment. Furthermore, professional support in the form of in-service training and collaborative networking with parents and professionals is needed. In addition, supple- mentary funding resources to provide teacher aides, smaller class sizes and appropriate teaching resources are essential. Teachers also need time for collaborating with colleagues, exchanging information and designing appropriate teaching methods and materials to support inclusion efforts. On the contrary, the reality in Ahmedabad is that teachers are strug- gling to implement inclusion policies without the requisite resources and professional assistance. In this regard, Bhatnagar and Das (2013a) posited that if teachers are largely unprepared and unassisted in implementing inclu- sion programmes, it may undermine their self-esteem and cause them undue stress as they may be unable to cope with implementing such programmes in line with educational policies. Policy-makers and administrators in India need to respond to the challenges apparent in this study by devel- oping appropriate in-service training programmes for regular school teachers and creating environments in their schools that support teachers in meeting the needs of stu- dents with disabilities. Journal of Research in Special Educational Needs, •• ••–•• 9© 2013 NASEN
  10. 10. Appendix A: Concerns about Integrated Education Scale (CIES) Integrated education is one form of educational provision that may be made for students with disabilities within the school system. In the context of your school situation and your personal experiences, indicate whether any of the following items will be a concern to you if a student with a disability was placed in your class/school. Instructions Please indicate your level of concern by circling the most appropriate number that applies to you. 4 3 2 1 Extremely concerned Very concerned A little concerned Not at all concerned 1. I will not have enough time to plan educational programmes for students with disabilities. 4 3 2 1 2. It will be difficult to maintain discipline in class. 4 3 2 1 3. I do not have knowledge and skills required to teach students with disabilities. 4 3 2 1 4. I will have to do additional paper work. 4 3 2 1 5. Students with disabilities will not be accepted by non-disabled students. 4 3 2 1 6. Parents of children without disabilities may not like the idea of placing their children in the same classroom where there are student with disabilities. 4 3 2 1 7. My school will not have enough funds for implementing integration successfully. 4 3 2 1 8. There will be inadequate para-professional staff available to support integrated students (for e.g., speech pathologist, physiotherapist, occupational therapist). 4 3 2 1 9. I will not receive enough incentives (for e.g., additional remuneration or allowance) to integrate students with disabilities. 4 3 2 1 10. My work load will increase. 4 3 2 1 11. Other school staff members will be stressed. 4 3 2 1 12. My school will have difficulty in accommodating students with various types of disabilities because of inappropriate infrastructure (for e.g., architectural barriers). 4 3 2 1 13. There will be inadequate resources/special teacher staff available to support integration. 4 3 2 1 14. My school will not have adequate special education instructional materials and teaching aids (e.g., Braille). 4 3 2 1 15. The overall academic standard of the school will suffer. 4 3 2 1 16. My performance as a classroom teacher/school principal will decline. 4 3 2 1 17. The academic achievement of students without disabilities will be affected. 4 3 2 1 18. It will be difficult to give equal attention to all students in an integrated classroom. 4 3 2 1 19. I will not be able to cope with disabled students who do not have adequate self care skills (e.g., students who are not toilet trained). 4 3 2 1 20. There will be inadequate administrative support to implement the integration programme. 4 3 2 1 21. The integration of a student with disability in my class will lead to higher degree of anxiety and stress in me. 4 3 2 1 Address for correspondence Ajay Das, 3239 Alexander Hall, College of Education, Murray State University, Murray, KY 42071, USA. Email: adas@murraystate.edu. References Avissar, G. (2003) ‘Teaching an inclusive classroom can be rather tedious: an international perspective, Israel, 1998–2000.’ Journal of Research in Special Educational Needs, 3 (3), pp. 154–61. Avramidis, E., Bayliss, P. & Burden, R. (2000) ‘Student teachers’ attitudes towards the inclusion of children with special educational needs in the ordinary school.’ Teaching and Teacher Education, 16, pp. 277–93. Bhatnagar, N. (2006) Attitudes and Concerns of Indian Teachers towards Integrated Education. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, Victoria University. Bhatnagar, N. & Das, A. K. (2013a) ‘Nearly two decades after the implementation of the Persons with Disabilities Act: concerns of Indian teachers to implement inclusive education.’ International Journal of Special Education, 28, pp. 104–12. Bhatnagar, N. & Das, A. K. (2013b) ‘Attitudes of secondary school teachers towards inclusive education in New Delhi, India.’ Journal of Research in Special Educational Needs. doi: 10.1111/ 1471-3802.12016. Journal of Research in Special Educational Needs, •• ••–•• 10 © 2013 NASEN
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