Changing Pre-service Teachers’ Attitudes towards Inclusion

Changing Pre-service Teachers’ Attitudes towards Inclusion

Problem and Significance

The issue of inclusion has aroused debate for several years. Stakeholders involved try to resonate the issue by assessing various aspects involved. Regardless of the hindrances involved in the process, there has been some of progress made. Several mandates have been established with the objective of helping students with disability learn in less restrictive classroom environments as their peers. Among the main obstacles to ensuring that the process becomes a success are the teachers involved. Their attitudes towards inclusion present a huge barrier in ensuring that inclusion has progressed in the desired direction. These attitudes are usually shaped by various aspects that are both intrinsic and extrinsic to these teachers. Persistence of the negative attitudes would mean that the inclusion prospects will be dented, and will take time for the desired objectives to be realized.

This problem is critical, and there is the need to make sure that it has been resolved. This is because failure to solve the problem would mean that students with disability are not being provided with sufficient learning aid compared to their peers. Previous research indicates that students with disability make little progress through the traditional whole-class instruction. They never get the opportunity of shaping most of their skills hence do not benefit a lot from the school curriculum. This is among the reasons that have necessitated the need to transform the school inclusion prospects.  The success of inclusion will ensure that students with disability have been treated with equality compared to their peers. This is likely to improve their performances since the structures instigated will be aimed at helping them progress in one way or another.


Purpose Statement

The ultimate objective of this review is to identify mechanisms that can be used to bring about changes towards the attitudes that teachers have regarding inclusion.

Research Question

How can the pre-service teachers’ attitudes towards inclusion be changed?

Answering this question will ensure that inclusion of students with disability has prevailed. This is because teachers are a significant resource in any school or classroom setting. How they react towards a certain aspect determines how much progress it will amount to. If teachers developed a positive attitude towards inclusion, it would increase its probability to succeed. They are close to the students more than any other stakeholder involved in the process. This means that they are more likely to have the greatest impact on the students. If their attitude is not directed towards ensuring that inclusion succeeds, any efforts made by other stakeholders will be fruitless. This aspect calls for the need to shape teachers’ attitudes so that they can embrace inclusive classrooms. As a result, students with disability will have an opportunity to experience a less restrictive classroom environment. The aspect of equality created with regards to their peers would help improve their overall school performance.

The optimum way to answer the question is first to establish how these attitudes are developed. Going to the root cause would help in the establishment of long-lasting solutions.

Description and Evaluation

Article Summaries

Taylor, R., & Ringlaben, R. (2012). Impacting Pre-service Teachers’ Attitudes toward Inclusion. Higher Education Studies, 2(3), 16-23.

Taylor & Ringlaben (2012) assert that teachers’ attitudes have been documented over the years. Educators ought to realize how their personal actions and attitudes affect students. The study is aimed at answering two questions. The first one is “Can pre-service teachers’ self-efficacy, abilities and confidence levels when working with students with special needs be improved through the awareness gained in a survey course”? The second question “can attitudes towards inclusion be positively affected through a survey course in special education”?

For the methods, all the participants were required to enroll for the special education survey, and they were expected to complete pre and post-course survey that would help to evaluate their attitudes regarding inclusion and the teaching self-efficacy perceptions. During the initial and last classes of the course, participants were required to undertake a semi-structured interview and two surveys. One of the studies involved the ORI scale (Opinions Relative to the Integration of Students with Disabilities). Several items were included on this scale. The other instrument used was the TSES scale (Teacher’s Sense of Efficacy). The scale comprised 24 items, which respondents were required to rate on a nine-point scale that ranged from ‘nothing’ to ‘a great deal’. The semi-structured interviews on the other hand, lasted for approximately 40 minutes. There was no audio taping of the interviews, but the students were required to take notes and summarize each partner’s response.  There were 190 post-course survey respondents and 295 respondents to the pre-course survey. The questions were categorized into five groups to enable comparison. The groups involved were teacher preparation, diversity acceptance, academic impact, inclusion issues and discipline issues. P-value and Pearson Chi-Square tests were computed for every question for the purpose of analysis.

On the findings, overall, each of the questions raised were addressed both in the post-course survey and pre-course survey. The overall findings indicated that attitudes that teachers have towards inclusion can be affected in a positive way. It was also apparent that pre-service teachers’ confidence levels, self-efficacy, and abilities while working with disabled children can be improved by using the knowledge gained in the survey course. It is apparent that the survey course can improve the attitudes that teachers have with regards to adapting their teaching methods to encompass students with disability. Through the course, teachers tend to learn various issues regarding inclusion that they were not aware of. This plays a significant role in changing their attitudes.

Vaz, S., Wilson, N., Scott, M., Cordier, R., Falkmer, M., Sim, A.,  & Falkmer, T. (2015). Factors Associated with Primary School Teachers’ Attitudes Towards the Inclusion of Students with Disabilities. PLoS ONE PLOS ONE, 10(8), 12.

Vaz et al. (2015) assert that development of inclusive schools has been a major objective in most countries. Governments tend to advocate for the inclusion of students with disability within the regular classroom set-up. However, the aspect of advocacy does not solely imply that these policies are favorably accepted by the individuals tasked to implement them on the fore-front.  Previous research has indicated that teachers’ expectations and attitudes provide a substantial barrier when it comes to the successful implementation of inclusive classrooms. The attitudes regarding inclusion are dependent on the practical implementation of inclusive education and not specific understanding and ideology of inclusiveness. This research aims to identify various factors that are associated with teachers’ attitudes towards inclusion of disabled students.

For the methods section, seventy-four primary school teachers were involved in a cross-sectional survey. The survey was conducted in Western Australia. Eligible teachers included those that were involved with students in their final year of primary education. The surveys were conducted inform of questionnaires, which were primarily in pencil and paper format. There was informed consent from the schools’ principals for this research to be conducted. Teacher’s efficacy and attitudes towards inclusion of disabled students were measured. This was done through the use of Bandura’s Teacher Efficacy Scale and Opinions Relative to Integration of Students with Disabilities scale respectively.   Data analysis was conducted by use of the SPSS and SAS programs. Multiple linear regressions were used to describe the relations between classrooms, teacher factors and teachers attitudes toward inclusion.

The results showed that there are four attributes; teaching self-efficacy, training, gender and age that can be used to explain the variability that exists with regards to teachers’ attitudes towards inclusiveness. Teachers exhibiting low self-efficacy levels with regards to training skills were more likely to endorse negative attitudes towards inclusion. Teachers that had attained training with regards to teaching students with disability upheld positive attitudes for inclusive classrooms. Male teachers showed a more negative attitude towards inclusion compared to women. Teachers with ages 55 years and above were more prone to negative attitudes compared to those in the age group of 35-55 years.

This study contributes to the available knowledge that can diffuse the complex pattern entailing factors that can be considered to enhance positive attitudes towards inclusion.

Sharma, U. (2012). Changing Pre-Service Teachers’ Beliefs to Teach in Inclusive Classrooms in Victoria, Australia. Australian Journal of Teacher Education, 37(10), 53-66.

Sharma (2012) assert that the number of students with disability all over the world being included in regular school programs is increasing. Various legislations being enacted have been the main reason. Schools are not only required to enroll students with disability, but are also expected to modify the curriculum so it can encompass their needs. On most occasions, it has been reported that teachers are not adequately prepared to deal with this issue. This has necessitated the call for teachers to complete at least one subject that entails inclusion education. This study was designed to assess the effects that would accrue to pre-service teachers’ beliefs (sentiments, concern and attitude) as a result of completing an inclusive education course.

For the methods section, sampling was employed to collect data from 4th-year pre-service teachers that were preparing to teach secondary and primary schools. These teachers had been chosen to undertake an elective subject with regards to inclusion. This included 27 participants; 23 were females while 4 were males. They were all involved in a 20-hour course. A questionnaire was presented to the participants during the first week of the class and the last week of the course. Concept maps were also used for the participants to describe their beliefs regarding inclusion. The data derived from the questionnaires was then analyzed using t-tests; by use of SPSS. Data from concept maps was categorized under the headings: negative, neutral and positive.

On the findings, comparing the first week and last week of the course, there was a significant increase in the participants’ attitudes towards inclusion (from M=2.88 to M=3.28). Their sentiment scores also improved indicating that they had come to establish more comfort while interacting with disabled people. There was also a significant change with regards to their concerns. The concern levels had declined (from M=2.92 to M=2.41), indicating that they were no longer concerned about teaching inclusive classrooms as they were before the commencement of the course. The confidence level also increased at the end of the course (from M=2.69 to M=3.69). The concept maps on the other hand, indicate that participants showed some aspects of ignorance at the beginning of the course, which dwindled by the end of the course. In the end, a large majority accepted that inclusive classrooms are a good idea.


Relations of these Studies

The studies included in this section were conducted in different parts of the world. They involved different participants and occurred in different time periods. However, they all aim at establishing similar or related outcomes. They commence by showing various factors that contribute to attitudes that teachers have. This is explored by detailing how the trend of inclusion has been in the past few years and the progress made by the relevant stakeholders.

There is a common finding that seems to encompass all the studies involved. That is the attitudes of teachers towards inclusion is shaped by the training that they receive while acquiring their education. It is evident that most teachers being involved with inclusive classrooms do not have prior knowledge on how to undergo through the process. The aspect shapes their attitudes towards this issue since they have to learn most of these things on their own.  On most occasions, negative attitudes tend to be developed. This is due to the frustration that is encountered. The teachers’ expectations tend to be different to the reality that they encounter.

As a result, the findings show that the ultimate way to change teachers’ perceptions under such circumstances is by providing them with relevant training before they are allowed to teach in inclusive classrooms. From the pre-test surveys, it was apparent that teachers’ attitudes are negative when they have zero experience with regards to disabled children. This also affects those teachers that have little knowledge in this array. This is the case because they bear various misconceptions that they have heard from time to time. Most of this information is misleading. Test surveys after the teachers had completed various courses in the respective studies showed a significant improvement on how they viewed inclusion. Most of the concerns that they had diminished with every piece of knowledge acquired through the course.  There is more clarity that seems to eradicate the fear of the unknown.

The studies also tend to be related on how they conclude with regards to changing teachers’ attitudes towards inclusion. They all advocate for programs that will be able to provide the relevant support to teachers. These programs should include various stakeholders in order to derive maximum positive results. Teachers need to receive support from all the relevant stakeholders. The support should come in form of legislators coining various policies that make it suitable to institute inclusive classrooms without any difficulties. School principles, on the other hand, should provide necessary materials that are likely to help the situation move forward. When pre-service teachers see the efforts being put forward by the other stakeholders, it will help change their perceptions. It is their interest to be team-players hence the need to follow what the others are striving to achieve. They will be able to see the practicability of this agenda. This helps negate the attitude that asserts inclusion is not possible.

Pros and Cons of the Literature


Among the advantages of the literature is that all the studies seem to use similar research methods. That would be helpful for the purpose of comparing the findings and conclusions made. The literature has also elaborated when these researches were conducted and the places that it took place. This information is relevant for individuals that would want to conduct research on this topic in future. They will be able to explore areas that are involved in the research. The participants chosen will also be different.  This approach will aim at establishing whether similar results can be obtained when the conditions are changed.


The studies dwelled too much on one issue. That is the training of pre-service teachers in order to mitigate their attitudes towards inclusion. There are other issues that result in the negative attitudes exhibited by teachers towards inclusive classrooms. It would have been more concrete if the information was provided on how to solve negative attitudes arising from other issues.

Gaps in the Literature

There exist gaps in the literature from the above studies. One of the gaps is that the studies concentrated on a single solution. All the studies involved advocate for the use of training programs with regards to inclusion as a way of eradicating negative attitudes. This is somewhat limiting since there are quite a number of issues that result to the attitudes that teachers have towards inclusive education. It would have been more informative if the literature had assessed other issues. Assessing all the facets helps in the development of long-lasting solutions. Training alone is not sufficient, and this is evidenced by Vaz et al. (2015) in their study. Their findings show that self-efficacy, age, and gender also contribute towards the negative attitudes exhibited by teachers. Assessing how such factors affect the attitude would help in increasing knowledge hence having a variety of solutions to the problem.

The methods used for data collection also present a gap within the literature. All the studies have used survey questionnaires as a way of deriving data from the participants. This method has a shortcoming since it presents the participants with an opportunity to present information that is not genuine. It is likely that the participants will provide the information that they think the researchers want. It is usually a way of trying to appear good. Using methods such as observations while the participants are in an inclusive classroom would give a clearer picture of where they stand. Observing their reactions and how they handle issues is more likely to tell how they feel about the whole thing.

The studies have also used more of quantitative analysis while exploring the data availed. Programs such as the SAS and SPSS have been used in the studies. The inclusion of qualitative analysis would be valuable in the provision of a holistic view of the situation. There are aspects that cannot be analyzed via quantitative methods hence making the case for the inclusion of qualitative analysis.

Next Step Needed to Solve the Problem

The next step to solve the research problem would involve having a broader spectrum while analyzing the issue. The literature available has concentrated on the intrinsic factors that result to teachers’ negative attitudes. Training is usually inherent to teachers since it is all about how they perceive it in the first place. The same case applies to gender, self-efficacy and age. There are other issues that the teachers don’t have control, but contribute significantly to them having negative attitudes towards inclusion. These are things like the programs being adopted for this process, nature of support from other stakeholders among others. The next step to solve the research problem would be assessing these issues and find out the impact that they have on teachers. Then this should be followed by identification of solutions that would help negate negative attitudes derived as a result of extrinsic factors.

Findings and Implications

It appears that most stakeholders are of the view that teachers’ attitudes towards inclusion play a critical role in the implementation of the ambitious goal of inclusive classrooms. They play a vital role in ensuring its success or failure. Identification of factors that contribute to their negative attitudes has been mixed so far though there is some notable progress. The findings show that the main reason teachers have a negative attitude towards inclusion is their lack of knowledge regarding the issue. There are various misconceptions regarding inclusion, more so for teachers who have zero prior experience. The findings indicate that the best way to change teachers’ negative attitudes towards inclusion is by trying to help them gain the necessary knowledge regarding inclusive classrooms. This is attainable by way of training them various aspects regarding inclusion. The best way to do this as indicated by the available resources is subjecting the teachers to an inclusion course/subject that is well versed to equip them with all the basics of what is expected or required of them. From the surveys conducted in the case studies used in the literature section, teachers reported negative attitudes towards inclusion at the beginning of the classes. Most of them were uncertain of the whole idea and had their own fears. Some felt that it was an ambitious undertaking that would never work. However, after undergoing through the courses they had a change of mind. The teachers became more open-minded, and the negative attitudes were erased. Their confidence of inclusion advanced to another level. What this means is that training teachers before they are involved in any inclusive classroom would play a huge role in eradicating the negative attitudes that they might have.

The implication to this aspect is that the government through the education department should take the initiative of making it mandatory for all teachers to undergo training with regards to inclusion. This would be attained by way of introducing a course that covers various aspects of inclusion. The main purpose of this course would be to equip teachers with the relevant knowledge regarding inclusive classrooms. It would be a favorable way of eliminating various misconceptions that arise. How long the course should take will be decided upon by the stakeholders involved. Previous research on this issue would come in handy in providing information that would help in make the decision. Other professional aspects should be considered too.

It is also evident that training alone would not be comprehensive in changing the attitudes that teachers have towards inclusion. This is due to the presence of other factors like gender, age and self-efficacy that contribute to the teachers’ negative attitudes. Training of teachers with the objective of making them change their attitudes might be hindered by such aspects. This calls further for research in order to identify what goes around when these factors are in play. Vaz et al. (2015) came up with the finding that male teachers tend to be more susceptible to negative attitudes compared to female teachers. Teachers over 55 years also had more negative attitudes compared to their counterparts who are around 35 years. What is the reason behind these differences? This is among the questions that future research should try to answer. Understanding the dynamics behind it would help in ensuring that training attains the desired results. This is because the courses would be developed in a way that topples the barriers involved.



Sharma, U. (2012). Changing Pre-Service Teachers’ Beliefs to Teach in Inclusive Classrooms in Victoria, Australia. Australian Journal of Teacher Education, 37(10), 53-66.

Taylor, R., & Ringlaben, R. (2012). Impacting Pre-service Teachers’ Attitudes toward Inclusion. Higher Education Studies, 2(3), 16-23.

Vaz, S., Wilson, N., Scott, M., Cordier, R., Falkmer, M., Sim, A.,  & Falkmer, T. (2015). Factors Associated with Primary School Teachers’ Attitudes Towards the Inclusion of Students with Disabilities. PLoS ONE PLOS ONE, 10(8), 12.


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