Examining the Attitudes of Secondary General Education and Special Education Teachers Toward Inclusion of Children with Autism in General Education Classrooms

Morghan E. Bosch, Ed.D.
Barton College

Abstract

Academic environments, such as general education classrooms, have increasingly become important learning environments for children with autism. The purpose of the study was to examine the attitudes of secondary general education and special education teachers toward inclusion of children with autism in general education classrooms. The research questions are as follow: Is there a statistically significant difference in the overall attitudes of secondary general education and special education teachers toward inclusion of children with autism in general education classrooms?  Is there a statistically significant difference in the attitudes of secondary general education and special education teachers regarding professional issues, philosophical, and logistical concerns toward inclusion of children with autism in general education classrooms? Cochran (1997) created the STATIC instrument for the purpose of examining teachers’ attitudes toward students with special needs and to identify the relationship between teachers’ attitudes toward inclusion and toward the disabled in general.  The STATIC instrument was chosen for this study due to its multiple uses in the literature gathering data regarding teachers’ attitudes toward inclusion of many special needs populations, such as specific learning disabilities (SLD) and Down syndrome students (Barco, 2007; Mastin, 2010). The modifications to the STATIC instrument included identifying the special needs population being studied and inserting the name of the population in the statements within the instrument. Cochran granted permission to use the STATIC instrument with modifications in this study with yet another special needs population—children with autism. In this study, the modified Scale of Teachers’ Attitudes Toward Inclusive Classrooms (STATIC) was used to survey 50 secondary (grades 9-12) English, science, social studies, and mathematics general education and 32 special education teachers with experience in teaching children with autism selected from 13 high schools in a large school system. Data were analyzed using independent-samples t tests. The findings showed no statistically significant difference in the overall attitudes and logistical concerns toward inclusion of children with autism in general education classrooms and statistically significant differences in the attitudes of secondary general and secondary special education teachers pertaining to professional and philosophical issues.  An important finding of this study revealed that secondary general education teachers had positive not negative attitudes toward inclusion of children with autism in general education classrooms. This represents an attitudinal swing not embodied in the related literature.

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