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[en] Following policies to promote a more equitable and inclusive educational system, the question arises how to prepare teachers to accommodate an increasingly heterogeneous student population. As teachers´ competence concerning inclusion is grounded in their training (e.g. Baker-Ericzen et al. 2009), courses focussing on inclusion as an educational practice could reduce uncertainties (e.g. Carroll et al. 2003). However, inclusion not only depends on teachers´ competence but also on their attitudes. Teachers’ attitudes may be pivotal for the success of inclusive education as they can elicit differential expectations and behaviors, which can enhance or limit the successful inclusion of students with special educational needs (SEN). Avramidis and Norwich (2002) stressed the importance of training in the formation of positive attitudes toward the integration of students with SEN. Although several studies have reported positive changes in attitudes following a course on inclusive education (e.g. Shade & Stewart, 2001), the relationship between competence and attitudes is less clear. Therefore, this study aimed to evaluate the effect of a course on inclusive pedagogy on competence and attitudes and the association between these constructs.
Data were collected for 69 preservice teachers enrolled in a course on inclusive pedagogy. Attitudes toward the inclusion of students with SEN were assessed before and after the course, using the German version of The Opinions Relative to Integration of Students with Disabilities questionnaire (ORI; Benoit & Bless, 2014). In addition, at the end of the course students indicated to what extend the course had helped them to gain knowledge, skills and strategies concerning teaching a heterogeneous student population.
Results of a repeated measures 2×4 ANOVA, with time (pre vs. post) and attitude towards inclusion (ORI subscales) as within group factors showed a main effect for attitudes, reflecting variations between the subscale scores. A significant time × attitudes interaction effect indicated positive attitude changes over time, but only in the domain of educational and social progression of students with SEN. Results of a regression analysis indicated that, after controlling for pre-course attitude ratings, perceived competence predicted attitude ratings at the end of the course.
This study shows that teacher training can positively affect both teachers´ competence and attitudes concerning inclusive education, whereby perceived competence contributed to positive attitude change.