Due to the growing demand for mainstream students with disabilities, many general education teachers are forced to become inclusion teachers without appropriate training and experience. Students with special needs often disrupt the learning process, which negatively affects the learners’ outcomes. Additionally, teachers become frustrated with the matter due to the lack of knowledge.
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The review of research literature is critical in order to understand how the identified problem may be addressed. The attitude of teachers towards special needs students is mostly negative. Research by Fakolade, Adeniyi, and Tella (2017) shows that more than 55% percent of teachers are frustrated by children with special needs present in the classroom. The results were received by surveying 600 teachers in selected schools in Nigeria.
Even though the data is outside the US, it is still applicable for demonstrating the tendencies. The results demonstrate that the problem of teacher’s attitude is crucial and needs to be addressed to improve learners’ outcomes of students in mixed classrooms.
One of the reasons for teachers’ negative attitude is the absence of management skills in classes where special needs students are present. However, the education and training are insufficient for acquiring relevant classroom management skills. According to Stough, Montague, Landmark, and Williams-Diehm (2015), 83% of teachers with specialized education for working with disabled children have class management issues. Therefore, it may be stated that formal education is not the key to addressing the problem. However, children may benefit from guidance from experienced specialists in the field (Stough et al., 2015).
Since traditional forms of teacher training are inapplicable for addressing the problem, teacher collaborations with their experienced colleagues are a viable alternative for the matter. However, due to the shortage of time and lack of experienced teachers on school grounds, the collaborations can be moved to the internet. In particular, Tzivinikou (2015) conducted research that demonstrated positive outcomes when teachers use mobile devices for collaboration purposes. According to Tzivinikou (2015), the method helps to make collaborations time-efficient and cost-effective.
There is a technology that helps to merge the traditional approach to education and teacher collaborations. Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC) is a technology that helps anyone, including teachers, acquire knowledge while communicating with peers and trainers online. A study by Panero, Aldon, Trgalova, and Trouche (2017) shows that MOOC is a convenient method for learning new skills.
Since MOOCs allow both internal and external feedback, the collaboration process is natural, and all the members of the learning community benefit from such collaborations regardless of their cultural background, which is confirmed by a similar study conducted by Taranto, Arzarello, and Robutti (2017). Even though MOOCs are expensive in development, they are a worthy investment that can improve learners’ outcomes in inclusion classrooms.
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Classroom inclusion is becoming a trend in modern education in the US and worldwide. There are more than 6 million students with disabilities in the United States, among which 40% are children with learning disabilities (Diament, 2016).
However, according to Diament (2019), nearly 95% of all students with disabilities spend at least some part of their learning time in regular education classrooms. Inclusive classrooms benefit both children with special needs and ordinary students. According to Cheminais (2013), students without disabilities benefit by learning tolerance, support for others, and acceptance of differences. At the same time, special needs students have improved academic success and social outcomes (Cheminais, 2013). However, all the positive outcomes are possible only if the teachers have appropriate skills and qualifications.
There are two ways of receiving inclusion training for teachers: initial education and integrated training. Teachers who have not received inclusion training in universities need to attend integrated courses for inclusion, which have proven to provide positive outcomes for both teachers and learners (European Agency for Development in Special Needs Education [EADSNE], 2011. During these courses, educators are taught to apply multi-intelligence theory, incorporate life-skills training, and employ collaborative teaching techniques (Special Education Guide, n.d.).
However, such courses are usually expensive and time-consuming, and most of the time, they presuppose that teachers will be interrupted from the teaching process (EADSNE, 2011). Therefore, MOOCs can be introduced as a cost-efficient alternative. While there are no official inclusion MOOC courses available for teachers in the US, there are private courses, like Kids Included Together (2019), created for teaching educators to manage inclusion classrooms. The cost of the course is as low as $70 per person, which makes it a viable option for helping teachers learn appropriate techniques.
- 50% reduced anxiety and stress from the absence of inclusion training in 6 months;
- 20% improved learners’ outcomes in students with disabilities in 6 months;
- 10% improved learners’ outcomes in students without disabilities in 60 months.
There are several groups of stakeholders that have a vested interest in the project. First, in learner-centered education, the primary beneficiaries are the students with and without disabilities. Second, the target audience is teachers, who will receive integrated inclusion training to reduce stress and frustration. Third, secondary beneficiaries are children’s parents and the community, and general, since the project will help to teach children to be better members of society. Fourth, school authorities will need to get additional funding from the government to pay for the courses. Finally, there will be service providers, who will elaborate MOOC courses for the teachers to receive appropriate training.
The primary restraints are cost and time limits set by the nature of the teaching profession. First, the courses need to be cost-efficient for the project to be accepted by education authorities. Therefore, even though developing a unique evidence-based MOOC would be the most effective strategy, it will most likely be unacceptable since it is time-consuming and expensive. Shopping for existing inclusion courses seems to be a more viable alternative, especially since there are ready-made courses available online. However, these courses may need to be modified to adhere to US inclusion educational standards and provide teachers with the ability to collaborate.
Specialized training for educators teaching in inclusive classrooms is vital for improving learners’ outcomes and decreasing stress and anxiety among teachers. The latest research evidence shows that MOOCs with access from mobile devices are the most viable option for providing integrated training for teachers. The review of professional literature confirms the matter by stating that formal courses may be time-consuming and expensive. A project that uses the services of third parties who provide access to online courses for inclusion training can benefit all groups of stakeholders.
Cheminais, R. (2013). How to create the inclusive classroom: Removing barriers to learning. London, UK: David Fulton Publishers.
Diament, M. (2019). Inclusion increasingly the norm for students with disabilities. Disability Scoop. Web.
Kids Included Together. (2019). Inclusive class self-paced module. Web.
European Agency for Development in Special Needs Education. (2011). Teacher education for inclusion across Europe: Challenges and opportunities. Odense, Denmark: European Agency for Development in Special Needs Education.
Fakolade, O. A., Adeniyi, S. O., & Tella, A. (2017). The attitude of teachers towards the inclusion of special needs children in general education classroom: The case of teachers in some selected schools in Nigeria. International Electronic Journal of elementary education, 1(3), 155-169.
Panero, M., Aldon, G., Trgalova, J., & Trouche, L. (2017). Analysing MOOCs in terms of their potential for teacher collaboration: the French experience. In TWG15 of the 10th Conference of European Research on Mathematics Education (CERME). Dublin, Ireland.
Special Education Guide. (n.d.). The general ed teacher’s guide to the inclusive classroom. Web.
Stough, L. M., Montague, M. L., Landmark, L. J., & Williams-Diehm, K. (2015). Persistent classroom management training needs of experienced teachers. Journal of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, 15(5), 36-48.
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Taranto, E., Arzarello, F., & Robutti, O. (2017). Analysing MOOCs in terms of their potential for teacher collaboration: The Italian experience. In TWG15 of the 10th Conference of European Research on Mathematics Education (CERME). Dublin, Ireland.
Tzivinikou, S. (2015). Collaboration between general and special education teachers: Developing co-teaching skills in heterogeneous classes. Problems of Education in the 21st Century, 64, 108-119.