Attitudes and Beliefs About Special Education and Students with Disabilities
The text for this module will provide framing information as well as a review of the literature pertaining to the special education understandings or attitudes of prospective teachers. Within the scope of the text, which draws heavily from McNamara Spears (2002), there will be reference made to activities that the teacher educator may choose to use in class with prospective teachers. If the teacher educator finds it appropriate, the activities may be used in conjunction with the PowerPoint presentation.
- Analyze his/her own beliefs about students with special needs and topics related to special education
- Gain a sense of the general characteristics of prospective teachers and the public school student population
- Demonstrate an understanding of pertinent concepts and vocabulary specific to educational issues explored in this module (e.g., terminology associated with special education)
- Consider the literature and research in the area of special education understandings/beliefs
Inclusion and other special education related issues merit consideration on the part of prospective teachers and teacher educators. Part of this consideration ought to include efforts to learn more about special education understandings and beliefs of prospective teachers who will have the privilege and responsibility of educating increased numbers of students with special needs in the context of their general/regular education classrooms.
To that end, this review of literature will address the following strands of consideration: (a) general characteristics of prospective teachers; (b) public school student population; (c) early field experiences in teacher education programs; (d) preconceptions; (e) special education understandings; and (f) significance of the literature.
Public School Student Population
The consideration of the public school student population will include general information about the current enrollment and projections, with particular attention to students with special needs.
Early Field Experiences in Teacher Education Programs
Teacher education takes place in a wide range of higher education institutions at approximately 1300 schools, colleges, or departments of education in our nation’s four-year colleges and universities (Darling-Hammond & Cobb, 1996). A mainstay of the teacher preparation program is fieldwork (i.e., pre-student teaching field experiences and student teaching).
This review of the preconceptions literature and research will feature (a) beliefs, (b) fundamental perspectives and, (c) reflection and insights.
Special Education Understandings
Research in the arena of special education understandings appears to have its roots in explorations of attitudes centering on the theme of mainstreaming. This consideration will begin with some framing information and then will segue into a review of research efforts that were aimed at attempting to explore the topic of special education understandings.