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The effectiveness of a special school experience for improving preservice teachers’ efficacy to teach children with special educational needs and disabilities
Increasingly, preservice teachers are required to demonstrate their ability to effectively cater for the needs of a diverse range of learners, including those with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND). Higher Education Institutions (HEI) delivering teacher education programmes are responsible for promoting the development of inclusive practices. This multi-method study assessed the effectiveness of a special school experience offered to preservice teachers at one HEI in England, UK to develop their self-efficacy for teaching in inclusive environments, including their knowledge, understanding and practices surrounding inclusion. A total population sample of forty-eight preservice teachers completed self-efficacy questionnaires at three timepoints during their training; and 13 took part in qualitative semi-structured interviews toward the end of the study. ANOVA findings from the questionnaire data showed the experience had a significant positive impact on preservice teacher self-efficacy, improving knowledge, understanding and confidence to teach inclusively. A thematic analysis of the qualitative findings revealed the experience challenged preservice teacher expectations about learners with SEND, developing understanding about learner needs and effective differentiation. This paper concludes with recommendations for effective inclusion training for preservice teachers.
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