Year

2011

Degree Name

Bachelor of Primary Education (Honours)

Department

Faculty of Education

Abstract

Self-efficacy, or belief in one's capacity for action, is regarded (Bandura, 1986, 1988, 1994) as an important determinant of success in many things, including teaching. This thesis investigated the teacher efficacy of primary school teachers for teaching in inclusive classrooms. The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship between teacher efficacy for inclusive teaching and teachers' professional pathways (initial teacher education, professional development, teaching experience and personal experience). It also looked at teacher attitudes to students from different categories of special needs relative to teacher efficacy. Previous research has demonstrated that teacher efficacy directly impacts student performance and so the recognition of possible antecedents to high levels of teacher efficacy is important.

The study was conducted utilising a mixed methods concurrent design to allow the use of both quantitative and qualitative data. A random sample of schools from South West Sydney and the lllawarra provided 50 participants who completed a written questionnaire. The questionnaire collected data on teacher participation levels in initial teacher education, professional development and independent research and training in inclusive education, as well as the specific special needs content covered in their training. The data were analysed and teacher efficacy scores were calculated to create two factors (student based efficacy and inclusive class based efficacy). These data were analysed using ANOVA and t-tests to discover whether higher amounts of experience and participation in training were reflected in higher teacher efficacy levels. The qualitative data were analysed thematically.

The research found a wide range of teacher efficacy levels in regards to teaching in an inclusive classroom, unexpectedly, the data tended towards the high end of the scale. Teacher participation in independent training or research was found to be related to higher teacher efficacy in inclusive teaching. No significant relationships were shown between teacher efficacy and both initial teacher education and professional development. Differences in teacher attitudes for different categories of students with special needs were found relative to teacher efficacy levels.

Recommendation for further research and practice were given. This study's findings on the ability of independent research or training to increase teacher efficacy levels suggest the current professional development models for inc'lusive teaching should be reconsidered.

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