JOURNAL OF RESEARCH IN SPECIAL EDUCATIONAL NEEDS, vol.17, no.2, pp.98-109, 2017 (ESCI)
Successful implementation of inclusive practices depends mainly on teachers' attitudes towards children with special needs and their inclusion, and teachers' willingness to work with children with special needs in their classrooms. Experiences teacher candidates have during pre-service stage might influence their perceptions towards children with disabilities and their inclusion. The purpose of this study was to examine the impact of two special education courses on (1) preschool teacher candidates' general attitudes towards inclusion, (2) their willingness to work with children with significant intellectual, physical and behavioural disabilities within inclusive classroom settings and (3) their level of comfort in interacting with children with disabilities. A four-part survey was administered to participants four times throughout the study, once before and after each course. The survey package included (1) a demographic information form, (2) the Opinions Relative to the Inclusion of Students with Disabilities Scale, (3) an adapted version of the Teachers' Willingness to Work with Children with Severe Disabilities Scale and (4) the Interaction with Children with a Disability Scale. The results showed that both special education courses positively influenced teacher candidates' attitudes, willingness and comfort levels. However, impact of the second course focused on helping teacher candidates learn and apply instructional strategies to work with children with disabilities in inclusive classrooms was much larger. Implications of the study findings in relation to future research and practice are discussed.