Date of Award

2017

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

School

School of Education

Program

Curriculum and Instruction PhD

First Advisor

Lee Davidson

Second Advisor

Tevni Grajales

Third Advisor

Faith-Ann McGarrell

Abstract

Problem Statement

The literature from Cameroon depicts that the implementation of inclusive education is not only in its embryonic stage but faces resistance from educators who are still not accepting of the presence of students with disabilities in general education classrooms. This resistance has been attributed to several factors ranging from attachment to customs and traditions that encourage the isolation of persons with disabilities, to the lack of resources and professionals needed for the successful implementation of inclusive education programs. These unfavorable attitudes have been a cause for concern among parents, educators, and especially government leaders who do not want to be left behind the international community in embracing inclusive education. Researchers have found that unsuccessful inclusive programs stem from teachers’ perceptions of the concept of inclusion, their teaching ability, classroom management, and benefits/outcomes of inclusion. As a result, this study sought to examine if there is a relationship between teachers’ characteristics (such as gender, age, the level of education, years of teaching experience, experience teaching in inclusive classrooms, training, and teachers’ language of instruction), and their attitudes toward inclusive education.

Method

A quantitative non-experimental descriptive survey research design was used in this study. Participants included 346 full-time state licensed general education teachers from seven bilingual secondary schools participating in SEEPD pilot inclusive education program in the North West Region of Cameroon. A survey instrument “Opinions Relative to the Integration of Students with Disabilities” (ORI) was used to collect data in determining the attitudes of general education teachers toward inclusion. The Statistical Package for Social Sciences Software (SPSS) was used to analyze the data, organize the results, and provide descriptive statistics, multivariate and univariate analysis of variances (MANOVA, and ANOVA).

Results

Teachers’ attitudes toward inclusive education in Cameroon were negative on how they perceived the concept of inclusion and perceptions of their ability to teach in inclusive classrooms. They had positive attitudes toward managing students with disabilities in inclusive classrooms, and about the outcomes/benefits of inclusion. Overall, most teachers in the pilot inclusive education program in the North West Region of Cameroon were not accepting of the presence of students with disabilities in general education classrooms. These negative attitudes were manifested in teachers’ self-perceptions of their inability or lack of training in both special and inclusive education. There was no significant difference in attitudes on the basis of the language of instruction. However, differences were found regarding the other demographic variables such as age, gender, experience, and education. Male teachers were more favorable to inclusion than their female colleagues. Additionally, older, more experienced, more qualified, and more educated teachers, were more likely to be supportive of inclusive education than younger, less experienced, less qualified, and less educated ones.

Conclusion

This study was conducted in general education secondary schools actively engaged in a pilot effort to introduce inclusive classroom practices in seven selected bilingual secondary schools in the North West Region of Cameroon. It is not certain what the level of acceptance the practice of integrating students with disabilities into the general education classroom would be if the study were carried out in schools not actively involved in the inclusive education initiative. Nonetheless, what stands out about the findings of this study is that most teachers showed negative attitudes about the success or outcome of inclusive education and indicated that the training they received in special education and inclusive education was not enough to ensure a successful integration of students with disabilities into general education classrooms. These findings support not only the rationale but also the urgent need for investment by all Cameroonian education stakeholders, especially the leading sponsor of education, the government, in the training of special education professionals and paraprofessionals in the country. These revelations also constitute a call for needed action from instructional leaders and higher education leaders who can make a difference by promoting professional development through seminars and workshops as well as creating targeted special education programs in the various institutions of higher learning in the country.

Subject Area

Students with disabilities--Cameroon, Inclusive education, General education--Cameroon

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