Impact of Disability Awareness and Self-Efficacy on Preschool Teachers' Attitudes toward Inclusion in Orthodox Jewish Day Schools
Gerson, Wendy Devorah
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The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship between preschool teachers' awareness of disabilities, their exposure to disabilities, and their self-efficacy in a classroom, and how they affect teachers' attitudes toward inclusion. Another purpose was to investigate the extent to which class composition (all boys, all girls, co-ed schools) and length of teacher experience would affect teacher attitude. One hundred and seventy-four female head teachers working at the preschool level in Orthodox Jewish Day Schools in New York State completed a brief demographic questionnaire, a short version of Shapiro's Disability Awareness Scale (DAS), Cochran's Scale of Teachers' Attitudes Toward Inclusive Classrooms (STATIC), and Woolfolk and Hoy's Teacher Sense of Efficacy Scale (TSES). Results indicated a positive relationship between exposure to disabilities and teachers attitudes, and there was also a positive relationship between disability awareness and teachers attitudes. Teachers who had more exposure and awareness to disabilities had more positive attitudes toward people with disabilities than teachers who had little or no exposure or awareness. Another finding was that teachers who felt they had more self-efficacy to teach disabled students had more positive attitudes toward teaching children with disabilities. No significance was found in relation to class composition or length of teaching experience. One of the important implications of this study is that school administrators need to provide additional support and professional development to teachers in order for teachers to feel confident in teaching inclusion classes. Another implication involves the necessity for greater pre-service education for teachers who will likely work with students with disabilities. Further research is needed in several areas including the examination of the nature of in-service support given to teachers who work with students with disabilities and its impact.