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1 CRITICAL INCIDENTS WITH INCLUSION: EXPERIENCES OF HEAD START TEACHERS By KATRINA MOORE A DISSERTATION PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA 2013
2 2013 Katrina Moore
3 To my parents
4 ACKNOWLEDGMENTS First, I wou ld like to thank my family for supporting me on my doctoral journey. Thank you to my parents John and Rita Moore. Words are inadequate to express how grateful I am for the unconditional love and encouragement they have given me throughout my life. I give a special thank you to my father for always pu shing me to do my best and to my mother for instilling in me a passion for education. I thank my husband, Michael Stone for the constant encouragement and for the many sacrifices he made so that I could pursue my dream. I thank my brother, Geoff Moore, fo r being a trusted friend and an inspiration to continue to grow and achieve. I also thank the Stone and Page families for their support My deepest thanks and appreciation goes to my committee. I am thankful t o my chair, Tina Smith Bonahue for her continuo us support throughout my doctoral program. Her guidance, feedback, and advice were invaluable over the years. I appreciate the many hours she has spent in helping me to reach my goals and in making me a better practitioner and researcher. I thank Patricia Snyder for sharing her passion for research and for the field of early childhood. I consider myself very fortunate to have had the her expertise and support. I am thankfu l to Nancy Dana for her guidance and feedback, and for encouraging for me to find my style as a qualitative researcher. I also thank Nancy Waldron for her sharing her expertise and for her thoughtful feedback I thank the participants who contributed their time and were willing to open up their lives and share their experiences with me. Without their willingness to share their stories, this research would not have been possible. I am fortunate to have met such reflective and giving people.
5 I would also like to thank Cathy Pasia, Salih Rakap, Cystal Crowe, and Tara McLaughlin for being exceptional teammates who made this journey all the more meaningful. I extend a special thank you to Tara McLaughlin for being a great friend and a colleague I respect and admire. I thank the members of my cohort : Stacey Rice, Susan Craft, Sally Moore, Suzie Long, and Jenny Massa. I am grateful to have gone through graduate school with such wonderful people.
6 TABLE OF CONTENTS page ACKNOWLEDGMENTS ................................ ................................ ................................ .. 4 LIST OF FIGURES ................................ ................................ ................................ ........ 10 ABSTRACT ................................ ................................ ................................ ................... 11 CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION AND LITERATURE REVIEW ................................ ..................... 13 Shared Definition of Inclusion ................................ ................................ ................. 13 Legal Mandates ................................ ................................ ................................ ...... 15 Empirical Support for Inclusion ................................ ................................ ............... 16 Context of Early Childhood Inclusion ................................ ................................ ...... 17 ................................ ................................ .... 20 Teacher Attitudes and Beliefs about Early Childhood Inclusion .............................. 22 Attitudes and Beliefs about Inclusion in Early Childhood ................................ ........ 26 Perceived Barriers to Inclusion ................................ ................................ ......... 36 Perceived Supports for Inclusion ................................ ................................ ...... 40 Measuring Teacher Beliefs and Experiences ................................ ................... 41 Summary ................................ ................................ ................................ .......... 47 Critical Incident Technique ................................ ................................ ...................... 50 Development and Uses of the Critical Incident Technique ................................ ..... 51 Purpose of the Study ................................ ................................ .............................. 53 2 METHODS ................................ ................................ ................................ .............. 54 Study Purpose and Use of Qualitative Research ................................ .................... 54 Critical Incident Technique ................................ ................................ ...................... 55 Step 1: Describe the Aims of the Activity Under Study ................................ ..... 56 Step 2: Develop Plans and Specifications ................................ ........................ 57 Step 3. Collect the Data ................................ ................................ ................... 62 Step 4: Analyze the Data ................................ ................................ .................. 64 Step 5: Interpret Data and Report Findings ................................ ...................... 68 Methodol ogical Issues ................................ ................................ ............................ 68 Reflexivity and Researcher Assumptions ................................ ................................ 70 Summary ................................ ................................ ................................ ................ 71 3 ICAL INCIDENTS ................................ ....................... 74 Introduction ................................ ................................ ................................ ............. 74 Research Design ................................ ................................ ................................ .... 74 Participants and Context ................................ ................................ ......................... 75 Description of Critical Incidents ................................ ................................ ............... 75
7 Anne ................................ ................................ ................................ ................. 76 Beverly ................................ ................................ ................................ ............. 79 Charlotte ................................ ................................ ................................ ........... 83 Diane ................................ ................................ ................................ ................ 86 Evelyn ................................ ................................ ................................ ............... 88 Faye ................................ ................................ ................................ ................. 90 Gina ................................ ................................ ................................ .................. 9 3 Hazel ................................ ................................ ................................ ................ 95 Summary ................................ ................................ ................................ ................ 97 4 SUPPORTS AND BARRIERS ................................ ................................ .............. 100 Factors that Contributed to Effectiveness ................................ ............................. 100 Use of Classroom Strategies and Approaches ................................ ............... 100 Structural Supports ................................ ................................ ......................... 102 Access to Peers ................................ ................................ ............................. 105 Practitioner Variables ................................ ................................ ..................... 108 Relation ships ................................ ................................ ................................ .. 109 Collaboration ................................ ................................ ................................ .. 110 Supportive Parent/Caregiver Behaviors ................................ ......................... 112 Factors that Contributed to Ineffectiveness ................................ ........................... 113 Challenging Behavior ................................ ................................ ..................... 114 Unsupportive Parent/Caregiver Behaviors ................................ ..................... 115 Inadequate Structural Supports ................................ ................................ ...... 115 Lack of Experience ................................ ................................ ......................... 116 Summary ................................ ................................ ................................ .............. 117 5 DISCUSSION ................................ ................................ ................................ ....... 120 Summary ................................ ................................ ................................ .............. 120 Critical Incidents and S upport for Inclusion ................................ ........................... 122 Supports and Barriers ................................ ................................ ........................... 128 Structural Variables ................................ ................................ ........................ 129 Process variables ................................ ................................ ........................... 131 Limitations ................................ ................................ ................................ ............. 135 Future Research ................................ ................................ ................................ ... 136 APPENDIX A INFORMED CONSENT ................................ ................................ ........................ 138 B FLYER FOR TEACHERS ................................ ................................ ..................... 140 C INTERVIE W PROTOCOL ................................ ................................ ..................... 141 D DEMOGRAPHIC SURVEY ................................ ................................ ................... 143 LIST OF REFERENCES ................................ ................................ ............................. 145
8 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH ................................ ................................ .......................... 155
9 LIST OF TABLES Table page 1 1 Participant characteristics ................................ ................................ ................... 73 1 2 Coding example. ................................ ................................ ................................ 73 3 1 ................................ ........................ 98 3 1 Continued ................................ ................................ ................................ ........... 99
10 LIST OF FIGURES Figure page 4 1 Supports for inclusion identified by participants. ................................ ............... 118 4 2 Barriers to inclusion reported by participants ................................ .................... 119
11 Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the Graduate School of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy CRITICAL INCIDENTS WITH INCLUSION: EXPERIENCES OF HEAD START TEACHERS By Katrina Moore August 2013 Chair: Tina Smith Bonahue Major: School Psychology Inclusion is an important philosophy and set of associated values and practices that ha ve expanded early learning opportunities for many young children with disabilities over the last three decades. This qualitative study used the critical incident technique to identify important experiences related to inclusion from the perspective of Head Start teachers. More specifically, the study explor ed participant perceptions of a critical incident with inclusion t hat shaped their perspective or outlook on inclusion. Consistent with critical incident methodology, i ncidents were used to identify factors that contributed to the effectivene ss or ineff ectiveness of the incident with inclusion (i.e., supports and barriers ). Eight Head S tart teachers with experiences related to inclusion were interviewed on three separate occasions to gather information on their critical experience with inclusion. The first interview was designed to build rapport, to gather background information, and to pro mpt participants to consider an incident with inclusion that was significant in shaping their perspective. The second interview was used to gain a member check in whic h the researcher summarized the content of the previous two
12 interviews and provided an opportunity for clarification or expansion. Data analysis in volved systematic coding process es and resulted in summaries of critical incidents and description included d etails regarding the: (1) antecedent events/factors, (2) the actual incident, and (3) outcome s, both personal and for others. In addition systematic coding revealed categories and sub categories of supports and barriers to effective practice While the critical incidents reported were diverse and unique, all participants reported incidents they viewed to be positive overall and reported they were highly motivated by the growth they witnessed in both children with and without disabilities in their care. P rimary supports for effective practice s related to inclusion included: use of classroom strategies and approaches, structural supports (e.g., blended service model, planning time) access to peers, practitioner variables, relationships, collaboration, and supportive parent/caregiver behaviors. The primary barriers identified included: challenging behavior, unsupportive parent behaviors, inadequate structural supports, and practitioner variables. Limitations to the present study as well as implications for future research are discussed.
13 CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION AND LITERATURE REVIE W Inclusion is an important philosophy in the field of early childhood that has changed the nature of early experiences for many young children with disabilities over the last three decades. The philosophy of i nclusion holds that all child ren, including children with disabilities, should have a ccess to educational experiences that are Inclusion values the right of children to have access to educational opportunities within their schools and communities alongside their peers. This right extends to all children regardless of ability (CEC, 2006) and involves providing services and supports to the child in his or her everyday or natural context rather than moving the child to more restrictive environments Advocates of early childhood inclusion have furth er in the broad range of activities that normally occur for typically developing children in working and living with famil Thus inclusion is a philosophy that extends beyond school and refers to the full and active participation of children with disabilities in neighborhoods and communities (Allen & Schwartz, 2001; Gu ralnick, 2001). Shared Definition of Inclusion C o operation between two leading groups in the field of early care and education led to a joint position statement in 2009 that represents a recent and collabor ative philosophy of inclusion. T he Division for Early Childhood (DEC) and the National Association for the Education for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) developed a shared vision and definition of inclusion. Importantly, the National Head Start
14 Association also endorsed this posi tion statement (Brekken & Corso, 2009). The definition follows: Early childhood inclusion embodies the values, policies, and practices that support the right of every infant and young child and his or her family, regardless of ability, to participate in a broad range of activities and contexts as full members of famili es, communities, and society. The desired results of inclusive experiences for children with and without disabilities and their families include a sense of belonging and membership, positive social relationships and friendships, and development and learnin g to reach their full potential. The defining features of inclusion that can be used to identify high quality early childhood programs and services are access, participation, and supports (DEC/NAEYC, 2009, p. 2). The position statement further explicates the terms access, participation and supports. Access refers to providing access to a wide range of opportunities, activities and settings. I nclusion can take many different forms and occur in many contexts (e.g., public and private programs, early c hildhood special education programs, Head Start Programs). In many cases, access involves ensuring opportunities for all children to participate in these programs and other natural environments and access can also be facilitated through adoption of the pr inciples of Universal Design for Learning (UDL) or through simple modifications. Participation refers to key practice s related to providing additional accommodations, modifications and supports to children by using intentional strategies and approaches. Tiered models can be helpful in organizing interventions and approaches to promote participation for all ch ildren (Snyder, McLaughlin, & Denney, 2011) Finally, supports refer to the key component of providing system level supports to stren gthen inclusive practices. These supports include ongoing professional development available to professionals and paraprofessionals family members,
15 administrators, and specialists; providing opportunities for collaboration among stakeholders from general and special edu cation programs to ensure integrated service coordination and delivery of specialized services in general care settings ; supportive funding p olicies, and quality frameworks (standards and guidelines). These three components are key to providing a quality e arly childhood system and services to young children and their families. The statement additionally provides recommendations for using this definition to improve early childhood services. For example, o ne recommendation emphasizes the importance of progra m development to support a shared philosophy on inclusion. The position statement explains: Programs need a philosophy on inclusion as a part of their broader program mission statement to ensure that practitioners and staff operate under a similar set of assumptions, values, and beliefs, about the most effective ways to support infants and young children with disabilities and their families (DEC/NAEYC, 2009, p.3). Shared understandings of inclusion constitute a beginning point for developing a system of supports and services for young children with disabilities and their families to support acces s and participation These shared assumptions also guide the design and delivery of professional development learning opportunities and experiences for practitioners (DEC/NAEYC, 2009). Legal Mandates Beyond philosophy and ideology, legal m echanisms underg ird inclusio n in the form of laws, p o licies, and regulations In 1975, passage of the Education for All Handicapped Children Act (PL 94 142) guaranteed children with disabilities a free and appropriate education. These rights were extended through subseque nt reauthorizations and amendments and related legislation (e.g. the Education of the
16 Handicapped Act Amendments of 1986 (PL 99 457), the Individual with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) of 1990 (PL 101 476), the IDEA Amendments of 1991 (PL 102 119) and 1 997 (PL 105 17), Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (PL 93 112), and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 (PL 101 336; Guralnick, 2001). IDEA requires that children eligible for i ndividualized e ducation p rograms (IEPs) are provided services in the lea st restricted environment (Etscheidt, 2006). The least restrictive environment for a preschool child is defined in IDEA as: to the maximum extent appropriate, children with disabilities, including children in public or private institutions or other care f acilities, are educated with children who are not disabled, and special classes, separate schooling, or other removal of children with disabilities from the general education environment occurs only when the nature or severity of the disability is such tha t the child cannot achieve academically in general education classes with the use of supplementary aides and services (20 U.S.C. 1412(a)(5)(A)). These federal requirements have led to an increased numbers of young children with disabilities being served i n inclusive environments over the last two decades (Guralnick, 2001). Empirical Support for Inclusion In addition to a legal foundation, research suggests that high quality inclusive programs promote positive outcomes for both young children with and with out disabilities (Odom, 2000). R eviews and research studies by leading authors in the field of early childhood education and early childhood special education support the practice and some studies have demonstrate d that children with disabilities perform a s well in inclusive settings as in segregated settings on standardized developmental measures (Buysse & Bailey, 1993; Holahan & Costenbader, 2000; Odom & Diamond, 1998; ; Rafferty, Piscitelli, & Boettcher, 2003 ). S ome studies suggest that children with
17 dis abilities perform better on standardized measures when served in inclusive settings (Hundert, Mahoney, Mundy, & Vernon, 1998; Jenkins, Odom & Speltz, 1989). One benefit of the inclusive setting appears to be that children with disabilities are more likely to engage in more social interactions in inclusive settings as opposed to self contained settings (Guralnick, Connor, Hammond, Gottman, & Kinnish, 1996; Erwin, 1993; Hanline, 1993). Even if inclusive settings produce only comparable outcomes to self contai ned settings, children should be served in settings that best match with law requiring provision of services in the least restrictive environment (Cole, Waldron, & Majd, 2004). Context of Early Childhood Inclusion Even with philosophical, legal, and empirical support for inclusive practices, early learning practitioners and programs face challenges in implementation and provision of quality services (Hurley & Horn, 2010). Y oung children with disabilities are served in a wide variety of early learning settings ra n ging from public school preschools to faith based child care centers and a number of researchers have sought to understand the barriers and facilitators to implementation of effective inclusion across these settings A ccess to early learning pr ograms for young children with disabilities and their families have expanded in the past 30 years yet c oncerns exist regarding the quality of these options (Bricker, 2000). The link between program quality and child outcomes is well established (Buysse & Hollingsworth, 2009; Shonkoff & Phillips, 2000), yet research suggests there is a wide range of program quality across early learning programs (Odom et al 2004). The link between program quality and child outcomes has led to initiatives focused on profes sional development and program quality such as the Good Start, Grow Smart initiative of 2002 (NPDCI, 2009). Assessing program quality generally
18 focuses upon use of recommended and developmentally appropriate practice s and the examination of structural and process variables. Structural variables are regulatable features such as features of the physical environment, child staff ratios, and teacher qualifications and compensation. Process variables refer to the experiences of the child while in the setting suc h as the planning, implementing and evaluation of instruction, teacher child relationships and the quality of activities (La Paro, Sexton, & Snyder, 1998; NPDCI, 2009). These two dimensions are important considerations in evaluating the overall quality o f an early learning program. Early childhood program standards, such as the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) Early Childhood Program Standards and Accreditation Criteria (2006) and the Head Start Performance Standards are important to defin ing and evaluating program quality (Buysse & Hollingsworth, 2009). Many states are also involved in efforts to develop program standards and guidelines for use in the creation and maintenance of quality programs. Fewer states have develop ed standards that specifically address the needs of children with disabilities and their families. A review of the few state standards that do address the needs of children with disabilities reveals that they differ in their emphasis, and there is not curr ently a consensus in the field as to which aspects of program quality, beyond those explicated in determining general program quality, are important for addressing the needs and priorities of children with disabilities and their families (NPDCI, 2009). D espite the lack of widely used standards, the DEC/NAEYC (2009) position statement on the fea tures of high quality inclusion highlights the need for adults working with y oung children with disabilities to use a range of evidence based instructional
19 strategi es to support the participation engagement and learning of all young children. Quality teaching is a key component of early learning programs that support desired outcomes for young children (Adams, Tout, & Zaslow, 2006; Buysse & Hollingsworth, 2009; LoC asale Crouch, et al., 2007; Winton & McCollum, 2008) and t he characteristics and behaviors of early learning practitioners are key contributors to the quality and effectiveness of a program in supporting the learning and development of young children (Buys se & Hollingsworth, 2009). I mplementation of high quality inclusion requires attention to recommended practices in early childhood as well as specialized instructional strategies and approaches to meet individual learning needs (Buysse & Hollingsworth, 200 9). Further, the DEC/NAEYC (2009) position statement indicates that t o support a highly qualified workforce that is able to facilitate effective learning opportunities for all children a cross sector system that provides professional development and oppo rtunities for collaboration and supports for stakeholders i s nec essary While professional development is recognized as vital to supporting a well pre pared workforce, there are concerns that efforts are often fragmented and not delivered effectively ( Buyss e & Hollingsworth, 2009; Snyder, Hemmeter, & McLaughlin, 2011; Snyder, Hemmeter, Meeker, Kinder, Pasia, & McLaughlin, 2012; Winton & McCollum, 2008) Another important consideration in thinking about the context of early childhood inclusion is the variability in how programs deliver services to young children and their families. Inclusion for 3 to 5 year old children differs from inclusion in the elementary, middle and high school level s in that many state or local systems do not provide
20 educati onal settings for this age group (Odom et al., 2004). Thus as mentioned, children with disabilities are served in range of settings such as community daycares and Head Start Programs. Using an ecological systems framework, Odom and colleagues (1999) exami ned 16 inclusive programs and reported on the dimensions on which inclusive environments might vary. These two dimensions included : the organizational (i.e., administrative or policy) level, or in the approach to providing individualized services to young children (the individualized service model). second dimension, the individualized s ervice model, refers to the approach used to deliver individualized services to young children with disabilities (e.g., Itinerant Direct Service model, the Itinerant Teaching Collaborative/Consultative model, or the Team Teaching model). The delivery model impacts the roles and relationships of providers and thereby the experiences of children. Thinking about the individualized service model as a dimension of inclusion allows for consideration of how the actions of individuals within and outside the classr oom can function as barriers and facilitators of inclusion (Odom et al., 1999). It is further important to consider that e ven when two classrooms share the same individualized service model, there may be important differences in practitioner variables (e.g ., attitudes, experiences, skills, values, opportunities for collaboration) that impact program effectiveness (McLean & Dunst, 1999). As mentioned young children with disabilities are increasingly being served in a variety of inclusive early learning settings (Bruns & Mogharreban, 2007 ; U.S.
21 Department of Education, 2010 ). In 2005, over 700,000 children aged 3 through 5 were served under IDEA, Part B. Of these children, 34.1% received all of their special education and related services in educational programs designed primarily for children without disabilities and 16.8% received services in these environments part time (U.S. D epartment of Education, 2010). These settings include public and private preschool, prekin dergarten or kindergarten programs, Head Start Centers, childcare facilities, and combinations of these early childhood settings. Head Start represents an appropriate and natural environment for many young children with disabilities to receive services alo ngside typically developing peers (Brekken & Corso, 2009). Head Start is a national program dedicated to providing grants to local public and private agencies to provide comprehensive child development services. Head Start programs deliver educational, he alth, nutritional, and other services to enrolled children and families (Administration for Children and Families, n.d.). Since 1972, Head Start has mandated that programs include children with disabilities in their program and have reserved at least 10% o f their enrollment for young children with disabilities. The Improving Head Start for School Readiness Act of 2007 continued this policy and requires that at least 10% of children enrolled in each Head Start agency are children with disabilities. Head Star t data indicate that over 12% (127 ,933) of the approximately 1 million children served by Head Start have an identified disability. commitment to identifying and serving children with disabilities is especially valuable given the challenges ma ny families with multiple risk factors face in accessing specialized services (Brekken & Corso, 2009).
22 In addition to supporting access for young children with disabilities to the program through the 10% requirement, Head Start supports inclusive practice s via policy and regulation through the Head Start Program Performance Standards and Other Regulations. These standards and regulations provide an infrastructure for serving children and families by offering : comprehensive services (e.g., health, mental he alth, dental, education, and family support); screening, assessment and referral procedures; coordination with o utside early childhood providers; professional development opportunities and supports for staff; and the support of a disabilities coordinator ( Brekken & Corso, 2009). The role of the disabilities coordinator is to manage services to children with disabilities, including coordination with other programs, community agencies, and by collaborating with parents and families (Head Start Performance Sta ndards, 2009). Head Start grantees must work closely with their Local Education Agency (LEA) to ensure appropriate services, and under IDEA the state education agency has the responsibility for ensuring a free and appropriate public education for ch ildren with disabilities. One purpose of the comprehensive supports offered to all children and families is to facilitate early identification of children who may have disabilities or delays in order to provide individually and developmentally appropriate services in coordination with early childhood special education or other relevant community partners (Brekken & Corso, 2009). Teacher Attitudes and Beliefs about Early Childhood Inclusion As more children with disabilities are served in inclusive settings, researchers have investigated the attitudes and beliefs of teachers who work in these s ettings (Odom et al., 2004). Teacher beliefs influence their perceptions and judgments and impact actual behaviors in the classroom, thus understanding what teachers be lieve
23 and how these beliefs are structured might be important to improving practices (Pajares, 1992; Stoiber, Gettinger, & Goetz, 1998). The study of beliefs might help inform improved profess ional preparation and promote effective approaches to teaching ( Pajares, 1992). Beliefs impact the teaching process, and influence teacher perceptions of the expected outcomes of inclusion (Stoiber, et al. 1998 ). While teacher beliefs have long been an area of interest for researchers, studies that focus on actual exp eriences with inclusion might also be helpful in informing professional preparation and to understanding the barriers and facilitators to inclusion. Beliefs are challenging to study (Pajares, 1992). Sigel (1985) purported that beliefs schemata or concepts These condensed constructions guide our behavior (as cited in Pajares, 1992). Beliefs have been conceptuali T his conceptuali zation highlights the important role experiences play in contributing to belief and behavior. Understanding the factors that influence teacher support for inclusion is one step in understanding the barriers and facilitators to effective inclusion. A belief in inclusion as a concept and philosophy might be considered foundational to teachers being willing to effectively implement inclusion, but beyond this belief, teachers also need experiences to develop specific skills and competencies to effectively provi de access and ensure participation of young children with disabilities in natural environments. beliefs about their own skills related to including young children with disabilities, and their confidence in their ability to facilitate inclusion, r elate to teacher endorsement of inclusive practice (Gemmell Crosby & Hanzlik, 1994). One approach to
24 understanding these factors is through studying stakeholder beliefs and experiences that were foundational in shaping those beliefs As mentioned, many researchers have investigated teacher beli efs about inclusion and teacher beliefs regarding the barriers and facilitators to inclusion. By gaining an understanding of the beliefs and experiences of teachers, it might be possible to improve supports for thi s important practice. As a construct, beliefs are associated with a multitude of similar, and sometimes interchangeable constructs, such as attitudes, values, judgments, dispositions, perceptions, conceptions, dispositions, and implicit or explicit theorie s (Pajares, 1992). S tudies that used terms that represented concepts that were similar or related to beliefs (e.g., attitudes, views, values, perceptions) were included in this review The following sections summarize literature reviewed regarding teacher beliefs, perceptions, and experiences related to early childhood inclusion. Early research synthesis on teacher beliefs about inclusion. Recognizing the importance of teacher beliefs Scruggs and Mastropieri (1996) conducted a research synthesis to summar ize studies conducted from 1958 through 1995 in which general education elementary teachers were queried regarding their beliefs and perceptions of including students with disabilities in their classrooms. Overall, they identified 28 studies and found that the majority (65%) of teachers across these studies supported the concept of mainstreaming or inclusion. Further, they found that across the published research, teacher responses varied according to the severity of needs of the child, and the accompanying demands on teacher time. Teachers were generally more willing to include children with mild disabilities. While about half of the teachers in their sample believed that inclusion could provide benefits to children with disabilities, one third or
25 fewer bel ieved they had adequate resources, time, or training to provide necessary services. While the Scruggs and Mastropieri (1996) synthesis included teachers of elementary age children and older many researchers have focused on the beliefs and barriers or faci litators to inclusion in early childhood. Th e current literature review was designed to focus on studies of teachers of preschool children. Search procedures and terms. To access the literature conducted with early childhood teachers on teacher beliefs an d barriers and facilitators to inclusion, an electronic search was conducted using EBSCO Host, Web of Science, ERIC, and MedLine. Combinations of the following search terms were used: teach* (beliefs or attitudes), inclusion, disabilit*, young child*, earl y childhood special education, perception*, barrier*, and early childhood. Additional terms that arose from the first search were used to perform a second electronic search. These included: mainstreaming, preschool education, attitude change, and teachers of children with disabilities. Studies reviewed met the following criteria: (a) an intervention study (study designed to investigate the efficacy and/or effectiveness of an intervention) or a descriptive study (study in which information is collected but t he environment is not changed) ; (b) includes data related to teacher, beliefs, attitudes, or perceptions of inclusion of children with disabilities in educational settings; (c) includes pre service or current teachers or caregivers; (d) at least one third of teachers or caregivers in the study provide services for children three through five; and (e) study is set in the United States. Across 805 articles identified in the primary and secondary search, a total of 24
26 studies about teacher or caregiver attitud es or perceptions of inclusion for young children with disabilities published between 1994 and 2009 met inclusion criteria. Attitudes and Beliefs about Inclusion in Early Childhood While all studies provided information about teacher beliefs, attitudes, or perceptions related to inclusion, they varied in terms of their research questions and reported confidence and perceived competence at facilitating inclusion, and t heir beliefs about inclusion as it related to child disability. Several studies also investigated differences in attitudes as they related to teacher education or experience. Finally, several studies reported on teacher perceptions of the barriers and faci litators to inclusion. Salient themes and findings are organized around these broad areas and discussed in detail in the following sections. General attitudes and beliefs about inclusion. Across several studies, the majority of practitioners indicated gene ral support for inclusion as a philosophy or practice (Bruns & Mogharreban, 2007; Rafferty & Griffin, 2005; Rheams & Bain, 2009), but this was not consistent across all studies (Eiserman et al 1995; Bennett, Deluca, & Bruns, 1997) Bruns and Mogharreban (2007) found that 85% of Head Start teachers and 70% of prekindergarten teachers believed children with disabilities should always or usually receive services in early childhood settings with their peers. Similarly, in a survey of childcare providers, 85% of providers expressed at least some interest in caring for young children with disabilities (Dinnebeil, McInerney, Fox, & Juchartz Pendry, 1998). Other studies found that teachers, on average, expressed moderate somewha ) levels of support for the education of children with special needs in inclusive cla ssrooms ( p. 157, Eiserman et
27 al., 1995). Similarly, one study indicated that teachers reported uncertain or neutral attitudes toward inclusion and teacher scor es on average reflected some concern regarding the feasibility of inclusion (Bennett, Deluca, & Bruns, 1997). Studies collected additional information on teacher variables that might have influenced these scores (e.g., years of teaching experience, previou s successful/unsuccessful experiences with inclusion, reported confidence supports ). These findings are discussed in subsequent sections. Bennett and colleagues (1997) suggest ed the se data reflect that general attitudes and confidence are related to teach er perceptions of how effective they believe they were in t heir previous efforts at supporting children with disabilities. Further, while confidence and a positive attitude toward inclusion might contribute to positive experiences, this effect is likely bi directional in that positive experiences likely contribute to positive attitudes and confidence. As mentioned Bennett and colleagues (1997) found confidence in their ability to implement inclusion related to level of prior success with inclusion. Similarly, Gemmell Crosby and Hanzlik (1994) found an association between feelings of competence and support for inclusion, with teachers with higher feelings of confidence reporting higher levels of support for inclusion. Bruns and Mogharreban (2007) found that some teachers reported support for inclusion generally, but that their support did not necessarily match their feelings of competence and confidence in their ability to facilitate inclusion. Teachers in this study reported they had the ability to implement approximately half of the ski lls authors identified as being necessary to support inclusion. Teacher confidence decreased as skills became more specialized (e.g., most reported they could observe children
2 8 effectively to learn about their developmental skills, less agreed they were kno wledgeable of IEP goals and objectives, and fewer reported they were familiar with alternative forms of communication). Authors report these data sugges t a need for training and support and that teacher endorsement of inclusion may wane as teachers are ask ed to implement unfamiliar specialized strategies. As teachers are asked to venture beyond areas and tasks in which they feel competent, results from these studies seem to suggest that their confidence will decrease, along with their support for inclusion. Beliefs about inclusion and child disability. Several studies indicated that teach er endorsement of inclusion is e ffected by the nature and severity of a disability status. Teachers reported that inclusion was less appropriate for children with complex needs, and reported feeling least prepared to work with children with more intensive or complex needs (Buysse, Wesley, Keyes, & Bailey, 1996; Eisermen et al. 1995 ; Gemmell Crosby & Hanzlik, 1994; Huang & Diamond, 2009; Rafferty & Griffin, 2005). T eachers also had indicated more conditional support for inclusion for children with certa in types of disabilities (e.g., b ehavioral, learning, language ) likely related to their perception of the corresponding complexity of needs (Huang & Diamond, 2009; Sto iber et al., 2009). comfort in serving children with disabilities using child characteristics as described on the ABILITIES Index. Authors used eight domains of interest obtained fr om the ABILITIES Index: appropriate behavior, social skills, expressive communication, receptive communication, intellectual functioning, hand and arm functioning, leg
29 ity increased, teacher comfort decreased. Comfort levels were found to be lowest when child difficulties involved leg functioning, tonicity, and appropriate behavior. Teachers reported concerns about lack of specialized training for including young childre n with disabilities. Also, teachers with low general attitudes in support of inclusion also reported the least comfort in working with young children with disabilities. Huang and Diamond (2009) used vignettes that included information on children with fo ur disabilities: a ttention d eficit h yperactivity d isorder (ADHD), Down syndrome, cerebral palsy, and severe intellectual disability. These disabilities were selected to represent behavioral, learning and language, physical and severe disabilities respectiv ely. Teachers were asked to indicate their comfort in including the child, perceived need for classroom adaptations (i.e., curriculum adaptations, environmental modifications, extra attention, and class size adjustments) and perceived need for support (i.e ., contact with parents, various types of support, teacher training and personnel development). Results indicated teacher responses were significantly related repo rted the greatest support for inclusion of the child described as having mild physical motor needs (cerebral palsy). Comfort levels were lower and perceived needs were higher for the vignette of the child with an intellectual disability. These findings are consistent with previous literature indicating teacher support for inclusion decreases as the severity of the disability increases. These a uthors also found that teacher perceptions of the children were influenced by use of the disability label, and sugge st ed
30 associated with label use. Stoiber and colleagues (1998) found that teachers reported feeling least prepared to integrate children with neurological disorders, visua l/hearing impairments, and autism. They felt most prepared to include children with speech and language needs, learning disabilities, and mild cognitive disabilities. Similar to the previously described studies, these rankings related to the ease of meetin and teacher comfort in working with a child with needs associated with the label. Eiserman and colleagues (1995) suggest ed that these data indicate teacher beliefs are influenced by pragmatic concerns. Teacher behaviors might be influenced by beliefs regarding how likely it is they feel they will be successful in facilitating quality inclusive experiences. Many teachers in this study had limited experience with inclusion and these authors suggest ed these stakeholders be m way that is responsive to their specific concerns and needs and help s them feel supported (p. 164). Role of education in shaping teacher beliefs. Researchers reported mixed findings with regard to level of education and its relationship to endorsement of of inclusive practices associated with level of education, with more support for inclusion found in practitioners with master s degrees than those with high school degrees. Huang and Diamond (2009) also found a positive relationship between education level and comfort with inclusion and suggest ed that education s upports acquisition of background knowledge about disabilities and thereby augments confidence. However,
31 in the study by Buysse and colleagues (1996) described earlier, the authors reported that teachers with a college education were less supportive of inc lusion than teachers with an associate or high school degree. The reason for this finding was unclear, but might relate to state specific efforts by community colleges in North Carolina to prepare teachers with associate degrees to work in inclusive settin gs. No effort was underway to The a uthors reported they were unable to interpret or explain t he finding that teachers with high school diplomas were more comfortable serving children with disabili ties degrees Role of years of experience in shaping teacher beliefs. Studies reported mixed associations between years of experience teaching and support for inclusion. Several researchers (Huang & Diamond, 2009 ; Stoiber et al., 1998 ) found endorsement of inclusion increased with years of experience. For example, Huang and Diamond (2009) reported that teacher education and experience working with young children with disabilities correlated with their level of comfort. The y suggested experience working with children with disabilities might be related to favorable attitudes. However, Bennett, Deluca and Bruns (1997) found an association between teacher experience and less favorable attitudes toward inclusion and they suggest ed this might be due to differences in training for teachers that were trained some time ago. On the other hand, several studies reported no significant relationship between attitudes toward inclusion and years of experience (Baker Ericzn, Mueggenborg, & Shea, 2009; Rafferty & Griffin, 2005). Rafferty and Griffin (2005) reported that teachers in their study reported high levels of support for inclusion and that all participants worked in the same high quality preschool
32 center. Perhaps the high quality natu re of their current placement resulted in high levels of support for inclusion across teachers with varying years of experience. Role of specific types of experience and teacher beliefs. While examining the type s of experience s is conceptually years of experience, several studies queried teachers about specific types of experiences that influenced their support for inclusion beyond education and years of experience For example, Devore and Hanley Maxwell (2000) asked childcare provider s to report on specific experiences that contributed to their willingness to work with children with disabilities. These experiences included: previous experience working with children with disabilities, being aware of a nee d for child care for children with disabilities in the community, and having a family member with a disability. Other studies examined teacher attitudes toward inclusion and the number of children with disabilities with whom they worked. Bennett, Deluca an d Bruns (1997) found no significant relationship between attitudes toward inclusion and the number of children with disabilities with which they had worked. On the other hand, other studies indicated that t eachers with strong commitments to inclusion repor ted experiences with inclusion strengthened their commitments ( Devore & Hanley Maxwell, 2000; Leatherman, 2007). Again, these results might suggest that whether an experience is positive or negative has an impact on teacher beliefs and attitudes toward inc lusion. O ther studies compared the beliefs of teacher s in different program settings. Bruns and Mogharreban (2007) compared Head Start and Pre Kindergarten teachers beliefs about inclusion. Results indicated that both groups (70% of Pre K teachers and 85% of Head Start teachers) reported positive general beliefs about the importance of young
33 children with disabilities being educated in settings with same aged peers. Both groups also indicated high confidence in their ability to: arrange the classroom environment; conduct observations of child skills; and understand IEP goals and objectives. Both groups indicated lower levels of confidence in their ability to embed IEP goals and objectives into their curriculum (63% of Pre K teachers and 68% of Head Start teachers). Pre K teachers reported slightly higher ratings in several areas: awareness of services provided by related personnel (89% Pre K; 77% Head Start), higher ra tes of comfort in working with support staff (100% Pre K; 84% Head Start), and greater positivity in their ability to work with related professionals (95% Pre K; 78% Head Start). These findings might indicate that available program supports impact confiden ce and comfort. Fewer than 50% of teachers in each group indicated familiarity or comfort with specialized practices such as using alternative forms of communication. Both groups identified the same topics as priority training needs indicating similaritie s across program settings Training needs will be summarized in a subsequent section. In a comparison of teachers in inclusive kindergarten settings and teachers in self contained settings, Rheams and Bain (2005) found teachers in both settings expressed s upport for inclusion and similar attitudes regarding the feasibility and acceptability of social interaction interventions used to promote the participation of young children with disabilities However teachers in inclusive settings were more likely to re port problems educating children with disabilities, but still generally endorsed inclusion as a practice. Reported concerns included that children with disabilities require additional teacher attention, set poor examples for typically developing children, and require significant changes in the classroom activities and procedures. These a uthors reported a modest
34 correlation between satisfaction with support and endorsement of inclusion, thus these previous experiences with inclusion. The a inclusion would be to increase levels of support and assistance. Overall, however, authors commented that teachers from special education and ge neral education backgrounds shared similar views. Teachers from both groups reported a general perception that additional training is needed to support effective inclusion. A need for additional training was reported by teachers across many studies and wil l be discussed in a subsequent section. Changes in teacher attitudes. As mentioned in discussion of previous studies, teachers attitudes and beliefs appear to be influenced by pragmatic concerns such as availability of supports, feelings of competence and confidence, and prior experience s with inclusion (both negative and positive experiences). While belief s are complicated to understand and study, the results of the previously reviewed studies seem to support the notion that they are dynamic and influence d by contextual factors and experiences. The studies described in subsequent paragraphs examined how attitudes might change over time or after exposure to professional development experiences. These studies seem to further support the notion that beliefs a re dynamic and influenced by context. Two studies examined the impact of professional development on changes in teacher attitudes towards inclusion and one study examined the stability of teacher attitudes toward inclusion over the course of a school year (Baker Ericzn, Mueggenborg, & Shea, 2009; Campbell, Milbourne, Silverman, & Feller, 2005)
35 Campbell and colleagues (2005) examined changes in teacher perceptions of a child with a disability before and after their participation in a training program des igned to support inclusion in early care settings. The training program included: 15 to 25 hours spent in classroom based training on content selected by program directors to match program needs, three on site consultation visits, and an out of class portf olio project. These activities were conducted over a three to four month period. The purpose of the portfolio project was to encourage caregivers to form relationships with families and to their needs. Caregivers wrote a one page story about the child before and after the professional development experience and analysis of these products indicated responses changed nterests and achievements. The a uthors report these changes show a shift in the way caregivers represented children with disabilities. Changes were also observed in classroom quality as measured by observational rating scales. Similarly, Baker Ericzn, M ueggenborg, and Shea (2009) found that as a result of professional development efforts, teachers demonstrated a change in their beliefs about serving children with disabilities. The authors provided four 2 hour trainings on topics related to inclusion to e arly child care providers and measured attitudes and perceived competence before and after participation in the training series. They reported participation in the training series resulted in increases in childcare providers support for inclusion and in th eir perceived competence related to inclusion. They found teachers that attended more sessions had the greatest gains in support for inclusion and perceived competence.
36 Seery, Davis, and Johnson (2001) examined the stability of parent and teacher beliefs over the course of the school year. They reported that for both groups, the belief that inclusion yielded benefits for both adults and children remained relatively stable when measured at the beginning and end of the school year. However at the end of the school year, when asked if inclusion should continue, teachers were more likely to report conditional support than unconditional support for inclusion (unconditional yes: 27.2%; conditional yes 72.8%). Late year concerns expressed by teachers reflected ch allenges in meeting the needs of all children (e.g., inadequate teacher ratios). Teachers also reported increased concerns about support issues, such as limited access to training and collaboration, at the end of the school year (15.7% at the beginning of the school year; 23.1% at the end of the school year). The number of teachers who reported no concerns with inclusion increased from 2.2% to 12.1% over the year as well. Changes in teacher endorsement and concerns regarding inclusion highlight the need for comprehensive supports delivered throughout the school year. Perceived Barriers to Inclusion Several studies identified barriers and facilitators to inclusion reported by stakeholders. Personal experience and belief about disability and inclusion, profes sional role and training, and assumptions and philosophy regarding professional practice all impact how indivi duals perceive barriers (Buysee, Wesley & Keyes, 1998). Results across studies are challenging to integrate and summarize because of the diversity of definitions and measu rement approaches (Buysee, Wesley & Keyes, 1998). Additionally many barriers and facilitators relate to one another conceptually (e.g., lack of training might be considered a barrier, while availability of training might be considered a facilitator). Barriers and facilitators can be considered at the classroom
37 level, community, and systems or policy level. These barriers relate to the individualized service delivery models (actions of individuals within and outside of the classroom) and the organizational context (policy level) (Odom, et al., 1999). Several studies also identified teacher reporte d training needs. Facilitators to inclusion include strategies or supports that prevent or offset challenges or barriers. Barrier s at the classroom level. Aspects of classroom quality that teachers reported as potential barriers to inclusion included lack of a variety of structural resources, both h uman and material. Inadequate human resources ( e.g., not enough teachers or aides o r inadequate adult child ratios) were reported in a number of studies (Buysee, Wesley, & Keyes, 1998; Eiserman et al. 1995; Seery et al., 2000). Issues related to structural program quality, such as, inadequa te classroom facilities (Buysee, Wesley & Keyes, 1998), and inadequate access to specialists (Eise rman et al., 1994; Buysee, Wesley & Keyes, 1998) were also reported. Several studies identified lack of time, either for planning or for implementing individualized instructi on (Buysse et al., 2001; Buysse Skinner, & Grant, 1998; Marchant, 1995; Proctor & Niemeyer, 2001) or for cultivating the relationships nece ssary for collaboration (Janko, Schwartz, Sandall, Anderson, & Cottam 1997 ). Importantly, while teachers identified barriers to individualized ins truction, the majority of teachers (94%) indicated individualizing instruction was important or very important for children with developmental delays, indicating a willingness by teachers to provide ins truction (McDonnell, Brownell, & Wolery, 2001). Addit ional barriers associated with coordination and integration of services for young children with disabilities included: limited parent or caregiver involvement in
38 planning, lack of communication with families, lack of supervision and support for practitione rs, and lack of access to special services for chi ldren with disabilities (Buysse, Wesley, & Keyes, 1998). These findings highlight the impact of limited resources (including time) and the challenges associated with family involvement and planning. Limited resources at the community level also presented challenges. Barriers included: limited childcare options, poor childcare quality, and lack of transportation (Buysse, Wesley, & Keyes, 1998). These barriers make delivery of coordinated and integrated inclus ive options and services difficult. Barriers at the administrative, system, or policy level. Researchers also provided information about barriers identified at the administrative, and systems or policy level. Pre service teachers interviewed by Proctor an d Niemeyer (2001) reported concern that the focus of public school administrators on academic outcomes might not support the child centered and developmentally appropriate practice which undergird inclusion. Additionally, fragmentation across programs that serve children with disabilities might limit the time necessary to develop meaningful relationships between teachers and parents or caregivers (Janko & Schwartz, 1997). Lack of coordination among agencies and facilities might also lead to gaps in informat ion about important aspects of childcare. Finally, lack of state standards to address the needs of young children with disabilities was an identified barrier (Buysee et al., 1999). Program philosophy unsupportive of inclusion. Janko and Schwartz (1997) int erviewed teachers to learn about their reported beliefs related to inclusion and their findings underscore the importance of the relationship between teacher beliefs and program philosophy. They reported that some providers expressed uncertainty or
39 ambival ence about the concept and found that expressed teacher views on inclusion did not necessarily match actual practices. For example, some programs that touted an inclusive philosophy did not engage in practices that matched their orientation. Teachers in th ese programs maintained that while children with disabilities might be well served in inclusive environments, inclusion was not appropriate for some children due to lack of time and educational support. A mismatch was found between the intended goals and t he reality of providing individualized services and supports appropriate for children with disabilities. In observations, teachers engaged in few interactions with children with disabilities that could be categorized as specialized instruction. Proctor and Niemeyer (2001) found that preservice teachers reported inclusion as a valuable and beneficial experience, so long as the needs of the child with a disability did not take away from meeting the needs of all children. Thus, beliefs, attitudes, and an incon sistent philosophy are barriers to inclusion. Training needs. Lack of knowledge, skills, and confidence was reported in many studies as a barrier, with training and professional development suggested as a potential solution. Importantly, Gemmell Crosby and Hanzlik (1994) found that teacher satisfaction with education and training shared a positive correlation with a favorable attitude toward inclusion. As mentioned earlier, research by Seery and colleagues (2000) indicated that desire for trainin g and professional development supports increased over the course of the school year. Teachers may identify a need for training at the onset of their experience with inclusion, or they may be initially nave to this need and come to recognize their need fo r training as situations or challenges arise. When these training needs are met, teachers are likely to acquire needed skills and maintain
40 levels of confidence and support for inclusion that are necessary for effective practice. While teachers reported a n eed for training across several studies (e.g., 70% of providers surveyed by Dinnebeil and colleagues (1998) reported lack of knowledge as a barrier to inclusion) these findings might be considered encouraging, as teachers who recognize a need for further p rofessional development and implementation supports might be more receptive to these opportunities (Buysse, et al 1996) Many studies investigated teacher perceptions of training needs and asked teachers to provide preferred topics and instructional meth ods. Teachers interviewed by Bennett et al. (1997) reported a need for additional course work, workshops, in services and conferences. To identify specific content areas, Bruns and Mogharreban (2007) provided teachers six training areas and asked teachers to identify their top three topics for professional development. Teachers identified: (1) behavioral issues, (2) communication strategies, and (3) handling and positioning. Teachers surveyed by Dinnebeil et al. (1998) reported wanting to attend trainings a bout: managing problem behavior, creating learning activities for children with physical disabilities, and using assistive communication. Teachers reported a desire for training experiences that allowed them to take an active role in their learning (Leathe rman, 2007). T hey indicated they wanted hands on experience and opportunities for one to one support with experts. Perceived Supports for I nclusion Similar to the barriers reported, teachers identified facilitators for inclusion in terms of both human and material support. At the classroom level, pre service teachers with experience teaching in campus childcare centers reported the resources available at centers, such as ideal teacher child ratios and access to materials, were important to
41 supporting inclu sion (Proctor & Niemeyer, 2001). Access to specialists and support was also an identified facilitator (Proctor & Niemeyer, 2001). Teachers identified a desire for support from related service providers, both in consultative and direct service provider role s (Gemmell Crosby & Hanzlik, 1994). Rheams and Bain (2005) found moderate correlations between availability of support (e.g., full time paraprofessional) and favorable attitude toward inclusion. However actual support reported by teachers in inclusive sett ings was low (14 to 31% reported receiving support). Gemmell Crosby and Hanzlik (1994) similarly reported an association between teacher satisfaction with support from related providers and favorable attitudes toward inclusion. At a broader level, Lieber et al. (2000) found several key factors that contributed to the initiation and implementation of inclusive preschool programs using an ecological systems approach. These key supports included: committed personnel; a shared vision or philosophy of inclusion ; national, state, and local policies; training and external support; organizational structure; and community influence. Additionally, teachers indicated administrator support was important (Leatherman, 2007; Lieber et al., 2000). Administrator support mig ht be demonstrated through provision of personnel and resources. Measuring Teacher Beliefs and Experiences The previously described research findings were collected through a variety of methods. The majority of studies employed surveys or questionnaires to capture participant attitudes or beliefs about inclusion (Baker Ericzn et al., 2009; Bennett, et al., 1997; Bruns, Mogharreban, 2007; Buysse et al., 1998; Buysse et al., 1996; Dinnebeil et al., 1998; Stoiber et al., 1998; Eiserman et al., 1995; Gemmell Crosby &
42 Hanzlik, 1994; Huang & Diamond, 2009; McDonnell et al., 2001; and Rafferty & Griffin, 2005; and Rheams, & Bain, 2005). A d escription of the surveys follows. Surveys. Bennett et al. (1997) developed two attitudinal surveys: the Parent Survey on In clusion (PSI) and the Teacher Survey on Inclusion (TSI) to collect information from parents and teachers regarding the types of experiences and attitudes stakeholders have toward parent involvement, inclusion, and teacher confidence in ability to implement inclusion. Each measure consisted of four sections. The PSI to inclusion and non inclusion settings, and whether experiences with inclusion were generally positive o r negative); (2) General Attitudes Toward Inclusion (rating scale format, 4 items); (3) Relationships with Team Members (rating scale format, 6 items); (4) Parent Initiated Involvement (rating scale format, 4 items); (5) frequency of use of seven methods o f communication with families; and (6) space was provided for parents to list things they viewed as essential to the success of inclusion. The TSI also was divided into the following sections: (1) background information (gender, years of teaching, trainin g and experience related to serving children with disabilities, whether quality of experiences with parents of children with disabilities was generally positive or negative and level of success in including children with disabilities); (2) General Attitude s Toward Inclusion (rating scale format, 4 items); (3) Attitudes Toward the Feasibility of Inclusion (rating scale format, 5 items); (4) Confidence in Ability to Implement Inclusion (rating scale format, 8 items); (5) Attitudes Toward Parent Involvement (r ating scale format, 7 items); (6) frequency of use of seven methods of communication with parents; and last (7) space was provided for teachers to list and
43 explain things they viewed as essential to the success of inclusion. The a uthors provided informatio n on the psychometric properties of both measures alpha ranged from .68 to .85 on the subscales on these two measures. The Support and Technical Assistance through Relationships and Skill building Needs Assessment (STARS; Bruns & Mogharreban 2007) was developed to learn about teacher beliefs about inclusion and training needs and priorities. This three part rating scale included: beliefs about inclusion (rating scale format, 5 items), assessment, instructional, and behavioral skills needed i n inclusive settings (rating scale format, 16 items), and asked participants to rank their top training needs from a list of six choices (assessment, environmental considerations, health and safety concerns, behavioral issues, adapting materials, partnersh ips with families and professionals, positioning, and communication strategies). The a uthors noted that rating scale content was reviewed by three administrators of local early care programs, but did not provide further information regarding scale properti es. The Barriers and Supports to Early Childhood Inclusion rating scale (Buysse et al., 1998) was developed to assess of barriers and supports identified in the literature as being influential on the success of inclusion. An expert review process was used to develop this scale which consists of two Likert type subscale s: barriers (34 items) and supports (26 items). Investigation of the underlying factor structure of this rating scale resulted in three factors associated with barriers. These included early childhood program quality, community resources, and coordinating and integrating services for children with disabilities and their families. Items related to supports reflected a single supports factor.
44 My Thinking About Inclusion (MTAI; Stoiber et al. 1998 ) was designed to investigate categories or domains of inclusive beliefs. It is organized in three subscales: Core Perspectives, Expected Outcomes, and Classroom Practices. The Core Perspectives category attempted to assess respondents feeling s about what is recommended practi ce in early care and education. The Expected Outcomes was similar to the construct of expectations. Researchers added this dimension because of the link between expectations and behavior. The final dimension assessed was Classroom Practices and was designe d to elicit information regarding respondents beliefs related to how inclusion works. The a uthors provided psychometric properties about the 28 item comprehensive versions and a 12 item brief version. They reported that the 28 item scale had an internal co nsistency of .91 and the 12 Perspective, .80 (.77 for brief version); Expected Outcomes, .85 (.69 for brief version); and Classroom Practices, .64 (.69 for brief version). Eise rman et al. (1995) primarily used the Attitudes Toward Mainstreaming Scale Revised (ATMS R; Berryman, Neal, & Berryman, 1980) to collect information on teacher and administrator beliefs, confidence, needs, and behavioral choices regarding inclusion. The AT MS R is an 18 item Likert type scale. It consists of three subscales: (1) Learning Capabilities, which queries teacher beliefs regarding children with Traditional Limiti ng Disabilities, which queries teacher attitudes toward sensory deficit disabilities; and (3) General Mainstreaming/Cognitively or Behavior Challenged, which queries teacher belief s regarding the appropriateness and feasibility of inclusion for
45 children wi th intellectual disabilities or behavior disorders. The ATMS Supplement survey was also administered to collect : information about teacher attitudes toward children who require significant invo lvement, information about the perceived outcomes of mainstream final tool, the Serve Ability scale, was administered to collect information about whether participants believed children with special needs should be served in inclusive settings. T his survey asks respondents to make hypothetical decisions as to their willingness to serve specific children with disabilities in their classroom, as well as to provide information about how they feel this would likely affect their classroom practice. Th e Impact of Inclusion on Children with Disabilities Scale (13 items; two subscales) and the Impact of Inclusion on Typically Developing Children Scale (12 items; two subscales) were developed to elicit perspectives about the benefits and risks of inclusion (Rafferty & Griffin, 2005). Approximately half of the items from these scales were adapted from the Benefits and Drawbacks of Mainstreaming Scale (Bailey & Winton, 1987) and the Parental Attitudes Toward Mainstreaming Scale (Green & Stoneman, 1989). Infor mation on the internal consistency and alpha coefficients were availabl e and indicated high internal consistency as all provider scores were at or abo ve .86 Additionally, items were selected from the Attitudes about Integration Opportunities for Children with Special Needs (Miller et al., 1992) which were designed to assess global attitudes toward inclusion by asking respondents to indicate their support for inclusion by responding to 12 situations (e.g., children with disabilities ride the same bus as chi ldren who are typically developing) as indicated on a Likert type scale.
46 Additionally, participants were asked to indicate how much they agree or disagree with inclusion of children with disabilities by type and severity of disability. Rheams and Bain (20 03) investigated teacher perceptions and attitudes toward social interaction interventions for young children with disabilities. One variable they investigated was teacher attitudes toward inclusion. To assess teacher beliefs, the authors used the Attitude Toward Inclusion Scale (ATIS; Larrivee & Cook, 1979). This is a 30 item scale with items pertaining to positive and negative expectations regarding outcomes of inclusion. Participants respond to a 5 point Likert type scale ranging from 1 (Strongly Disagre e) to 5 (Strongly Agree). The a uthors reported the split half reliability of the measure to be .92, as reported by the original authors of the measure (Larrivee & Cook, 1979). Buysse et al. (1996) also adapted the Benefits and Drawbacks of Early Childhood Inclusion (Bailey & Winton, 1987) to assess global attitudes toward inclusion. This Likert type scale is comprised of 28 items and two sections: possible benefits and possible drawbacks. The (Huang & Diamond, 2 009) was created using the barriers and supports for inclusion identified in research by Buysse et al. (1994). This measure includes four vignettes about young children with disabilities. Four types of disability were represented in the vignettes: a ttentio n d eficit h yperactivity d isorder (ADHD), Down syndrome, cerebral palsy, and severe intellectual disability. One version of the survey included a label associated with child characteristics, while another provided child characteristics without label. This L ikert type scale asked teachers to identify their level of comfort in including each child with a
47 disability in their classroom (Comfort Scale), necessary classroom adaptations (Classroom Adaptation Scale) and support (Need for Support Scale). Information on internal consistency reliability across the four vignettes was provided alpha ranged from .66 to .75. Gemmell Crosby and Hanzlik (1994) adapted the Regular Education Initiative (REI) Survey (Phillips, Allred, Bruelle & Shank, 1990). Thr ough this adapted questionnaire they assessed the willingness and perceived competence of preschool teachers to include young children with disabilities using a Likert type scale. They also collected information on teacher demographics, training, perceptio n of supports, and satisfaction with support and training. Interviews and other methods. Several studies used interviews either in combination with surveys or as the primary data collection method in order to investigate teacher beliefs and perceptions regarding inclusion (Bennett et al., 1997; Buysse et al., 2001; Buysse et al., 1996; Devore & Hanley Maxwell, 2000; Lieber et al., 1998; Leatherman, 2007; Marchant 1995; Seery, et al., 2000). Additionally, three studies used interviews, observation, and document analysis (Hanson et al., 1998; Janko & Schw artz, 1997; Lieber et al., 1998 ) and one s tudy used document analysis alone (Campbell et al., 2005). Summary support the right of every infant and young child and his or her family, regardless of ability, to participate in a broad range of activities and contexts as full members of inclusion include a sense of belonging, positive friendships and relationships, and
48 support for development and lea rning to full potential. Access, participation, and support are defining feat ures of high quality inclusion (DEC/NAEYC, 2009). A combination of legal and empirical supports undergirds this philosophy and associated inclusive practice s and the ecological s ystems perspective has been used to conceptualize and understand the barriers and facilitators to inclusion (Odom et al., n.d.). The purpose of th e literature review was to identify studies on early childhood teacher and provider beliefs, attitudes, and p erceptions of inclusion. Similar to the Scruggs and Mastropieri review, the majority of teachers reported support for inclusion as a broad concept. Another finding that was reported across several articles was that many teachers reported not feeling confid ent in their ability to implement inclusion. Gemmell Crosby and Hanzlik (1994) reported an association between support for inclusion and feelings of confidence and speculated that positive attitudes toward inclusion and positive experiences with inclus ion might enhance one another. The notion that positive experiences with inclusion led to teacher endorsement of inclusion was repeated in findings from other studies (Huang & Diamond, 2009; Stoiber et al., 1998). Similarly, teachers with strong commitments to inclusion reported that experiences with inclusion only strengthened their commitments ( Devore & Hanley Maxwell, 2000; Leatherman, 2007). However, across studies, findings were mixed with regard to the relationship between teacher education or years of e xperience and endorsement of inclusion. Bennett, Deluca and Bruns (1997) found an association between teacher experience and less favorable attitudes toward inclusion and suggest ed this might be due to differences in training for teachers that were trained some time ago. On the other hand,
49 several studies reported no significant relationship between attitudes toward inclusion and years of experience (Baker Ericzn, Mueggenborg, & Shea, 2009; Rafferty & Griffin, 2005). Rafferty and Griffin (2005) reported th at teachers in their study reported high levels of support for inclusion regardless of years of experience and that all participants worked in the same high quality preschool center. Thus, it might be suggested that it is not years or type of experience in themselves that are associated with positive beliefs and confidence, but the quality and characteristics of experiences with inclusion that are critical in understanding how teacher experiences shape beliefs and attitudes Two studies reported efforts to improve beliefs about inclusion (Cambell et al., 2005; Baker Ericzn, Mueggenborg, and Shea, 2009). One study (Seery, Davis, & ool year progressed which highlighted their ne ed for ongoing support in order to maintain support, confidence, and quality services. Thus, these findings seem to complement the notion that positive or negative experiences with inclusion influence teacher endorsement of inclusion. Finally, m any studie s investigated barriers and supports for inclusion. Across these studies, researchers identified barriers across the classroom, community, and systems or policy level s These barriers relate to the individualized service delivery models (actions of individ uals within and outside of the classroom) and the organizational context (policy level) (Odom, et al., 1999). Barriers at the classroom level included: inadequate adult child ratios, inadequate classroom facilities, and inadequate access to specialists. Se veral studies additionally identified lack of time for
50 implementing individualized instruction and for cultivating collaborative relationships. Additional barriers included limited parent or caregiver involvement and lack of communication with families. Ba rriers at the administrative or policy level included lack of support from administration, fragmentation across programs, lack of state standards and an unsupportive program philosophy on inclusion. Several studies additionally identified unmet training ne eds. Similar to the barriers reported, teachers identified supports for inclusion as the presence of needed human and material resources. At a broader level, maintenance of inclusive preschool programs were found to be supported by committed personnel, sha red vision for inclusion, national, state and local policies, training and external support, organizational structure, and community influence. Critical Incident Technique Review of the literature provided valuable information about teacher beliefs related to inclusion and their perceptions of barriers and supports. Many of the studies used surveys or interviews to gather information regarding teacher beliefs and results suggested teacher experiences with inclusion might impact their endorsement of inclusion. Additionally, researchers in several studies identified hypothetical supports f or inclusion from the perspective of teachers Eiserman and colleagues (1995) note d that actual e xperiences with inclusion may lead to different attitudinal responses, and knowledge (p. 163). Additionally, across studies, there were inconsistencies in findings (e.g., some studies found teachers with more experience reported greater support for inclusion and some did not). Thus, as the early childhood field moves forward in expanding opportunities for young children with disabilities and their families research that e xplores teacher experiences with inclusion can further enhance our knowledge
51 regarding practices and experiences that support or undermine inclusion Use of the critical incident technique would extend the current literature by identifying lived experience inclusion and in exploring the characteristics and qualities of those experiences that might function as barriers or facilitators to inclusive practice. F ew studies have investigated p (Bennett et al., 1997, p. 1 ). One important feature of the critical incident technique is its focus on participant descriptions of actual events rather than descriptions of how events should be (Bradbury Jones & Tranter, 2008). Further, i t is a technique that can be used to describe data for practical uses. Development and Uses of the Critical Incident Technique The critical incident technique uses a flexible set of principles to gath er information about defined situations and examine how factors related to the situation lead to effective practice (Flanagan, 1954) This method was developed by John Flanagan (1954) and evolved from work he and colleagues completed as part of the Aviatio n Psychology Program of the US Army Air Forces during World War II (Butterfield, Borgen, Amundson, & Maglio, 2005). Since its inception, the technique has been used in a variety of fields, including education (LeMare & Sohbat 2002; Parker, 1995; Johnson & Fauske, 2000 ) medicine ( Homes, Bruce, Karen, & Hennen, 1990; Humphrey & Nazarath, 2001) nursing (Schluter, Seaton, & Chaboyer, 2007) business (Derbaix & Vanhamme, 2003 ; Ruyter, Wetzels, & Birgelen, 1999 ), and psychology (Pope & Vetter, 1992) S tudies that have used CIT have collected information for a range of purposes. For example, studies might focus upon studying incidents that relate to effective and ineffective practices; exploring supportive and hindering factors;
52 collecting functional or behavi oral de scriptors of events or problems ; or examining characteristics that are critical to the success of an activity (Butterfield et al., 2005; Flanagan, 1954). Specific examples of the use of CIT in the field of education include: exploring critical incid education programs (Alastuey, Justice, Weeks, & Hardy, 2005), use of CIT to document and understand helpful and unhelpful actions by professionals from the perspective of parents of childr en with disabilities (Prezant & Marchak, 2006), and the use of CIT to the impact of those characteristics on teacher practice (Blase & Blase, 1999; Rous, 2004). Rece ntly the National Early Childhood Transition Center used CIT to gather information about effective and ineffective transition practices by gathering critical incidents from stakeholders (Rous & McCormick, 2006). As Flanagan (1954) stated, the t consist of a single rigid set of rules governing such data collection. Rather it should be thought of as a flexible set of principles that must be adapted to meet the a pplication in a variety of fields for a variety of purposes (Butterfield et al., 2005). thinking in complex lived experiences (Halquist & Musanti, 2010, p. 449). Soliciting par about extremes that are either positive and effective or detrimental and ineffective. ective or ineffective with respect to attaining the general aims of the activity. The procedure
53 338). This method gathers specific information on a situation or phenomena, describes the actions or behavior of key stakeholders in the situation, and prompts reflection on the outcomes of the situation (Rous & McCormick, 2006). Flanagan describes five major steps that characterize this method. These include : (1) describing the general aims of the activity under study; (2) planning for and specifying the group to be studied and developing clear and spe cific rules for data collection, (3) collecting the data; (4) analyzing the data; (5) interpreting data and reporting findings (Flanagan, 1954). Collection of critical incidents may be achieved through interviews, group interviews, questionnaires, an d collection of written records (Flanagan, 1954). Analysi s of critical incidents involves describing the data so that it can be used efficiently for practical purposes (Flanagan, 1954) and can involve analysis of both quantitative and qualitative data (Rous, 2004). Each of these five considerations will be discu ssed in detail in the subsequent Methods section in regard to the current study. Purpose of the Study The purpose of the present study wa s to identify important experiences that shaped philosophies on inclusion and effective and ineffective practices to support inclusion from the perspective of Head Start teachers The DEC/NAEYC Position Statement on Inclusion (2009) w as used a s a reference for both the defining features of high quality early childhood programs and services and for the desired results of inclusive experiences for young children. S pecifically, the research questions that guided the design and data collection procedures for this study were : 1. What experiences do early childhood teachers who have had experience with inclusion report were critical in shaping their perspectives about inclusion? 2. What factors related to these experiences contributed to the effectiveness or ineffectiveness of the incident with inclusion from the perspective of the teacher?
54 CHAPTER 2 METHODS This chapter outlines the methods and research procedures used in this study. The purpose of the study wa s to identify and describe important experiences and effective and ineffective practices related to inclusion from the perspecti ve of Head Start teachers. More specifically, the research questions that guided the design and data collection procedures for this study include d the following : 1. What experiences do early childhood teachers who have had experience with inclusion report were critical in shaping their perspectives about inclusion? 2. What factors related to these experiences contributed to the effectiveness or ineffectiveness of the incident with inclusion from the perspective of the teacher? This chapter offers discussion of the match be tween study purpose and resea rch design; description of the five steps recommended by Flanagan for using the critical incident technique (these steps involve describing the general aims of the activity under study, planning for participants an d rules for data collection, determining data collection strategies and analysis methods, and interpr eting and reporting findings); discussion of methodological issues and strategies for enhancing the cr edibility of the study; and discussion of researcher background and assumptions. Study Purpose and Use of Qualitative Research A first step in the co nceptualization and design of a research study is determining whether the question or problem is appropriate for qual itative inquiry (Merriam, 2002) Qualitati ve research involves understanding how people interpret and make meaning of their experiences and involves a focus on process, meaning, and understanding of complex phenomena (Merriam, 2009). Qualitative research is associated with: inquiry in natural sett ings (i.e., a focus on lived experiences of real people in authentic settings);
55 provision of rich and descriptive data; a concern with process with the researcher as a key instrument ; in ductive approaches to analysis; and a focus on meaning (Bogdan & Bikle n, 2006 ; Creswell, 2007; Hatch, 2002). This research study wa s well matched to qu alitative inquiry as it involved identifying and describing participant experiences from their own perspective using inductive and recursive data analysis procedures to make meaning, and using these data for prac tical purposes (Merriam, 2009). This research study can be considered an interpretive qualitative approach, that is, the purpose is to understand participant constructions and interpretations of their experiences at a particular point in time and in a particular context (Merriam, 2002). Specifically, it explored their perceptions of a specific critical incident around inclusion that shaped their perspective. C ritical Incident Technique The critical incident techniq ue (Flanagan, 1954) is a method within the qualitative paradigm that was used in this study to collect perspectives about inclusion and on effective and ineffective practices related to inclusion from the perspectives of early childhood practitioners. Brad bury Jones and Tranter (2008) recommend that a the method is used consistently and with rigor. Flanagan (1954) describe d five major steps that characterize this method. The se include: (1) describing the general aims of the activity under study; (2) planning for and specifying the group to be studied and developing clear and specific rules for data collection, (3) collecting the data; (4) analyzing the data; and (5) interpret ing data and rep orting findings While Flanagan provides specific steps, he emphasizes the flexibility of the technique and encourages modifying and adapting processes when needed to meet research purposes.
56 D escriptions of each step s were rev iewed and used to plan this study. The processes related to these steps were integrated with recommendations from other qualitative methods sources to enhance the appropriateness of the design for the research purpose Step 1: Describe the Aims of the Activity Under Study Flanagan (1954) explain ed that in its simplest form, the process of describing the aims of the activity under study involves articulating a general statement of objectives. General consensus of the aims of the activity allows one to determine if the behaviors described were successful. For example, in a study of the qualities of an effective manager, the researcher must first articulate the general aims of effective management. Without a statement of the general aims or desired outcomes of effective management, it is not possible to evaluate whether a particular incident or behavior was relevant in cont ributing to the outcomes. For example a manager who provides workers with a half day paid time off may not be considere d effective if the general aim is to produce a daily output of goods and services, but may be considered effective if the general aim is to develop positive relationships with supervisees. Without specifying the general aims of the activity under study it is not possible to state that behaviors or characteristics contributed to success (p. 336) Flanagan acknowledge d that it is rare in a field that there is absolute consensus on the general purpose of an activity but reports an effort should nonetheless be made to obtain a statement from experts in the field that expresses objectives of the activity clearly, s imply and in a way that most people in a field would agree with In the case of the current study, the DEC/NAEYC Joint Position Statement was consi dered an
57 authoritativ e source regarding the features, qualities and objectives of high quality inclusive opportunities for young children and their families. The definition follows: Early childhood inclusion embodies the values, policies, and practices th at support the right of every infant and young child and his or her family, regardless of ability, to participate in a broad range of activities and contexts as full members of families, communities, and society. The desired results of inclusive experience s for children with and without disabilities and their families include a sense of belonging and membership, positive social relationships and friendships, and development and learning to reach their full potential. The defining features of inclusion that can be used to identify high quality early childhood programs and services are access, participation, and supports (DEC/NAEYC, 2009, p. 2). recommendation for brevity particular emphasis was placed on the desired results of inclusive experiences, friendships, and development and learning to reach their full pote ntial Step 2: Develop Plans and Specifications Developing plans and specifications involves providing guidelines and instructions fo r collecting critical incidents, and for deciding on participants and settings. Guidelines for critical incidents. Flanagan (1954) recommend ed that specifications for the collection of critical incidents are developed related to: (a) the specific situations to be explored, (b) relevance to the general aim, and (c) the extent of effect on the general aim. Specifications related to the situations observed involves delimitati ons about the place, the persons, conditions, and activities that are relevant. In this study, th e focus wa s on critical incidents and behaviors related to the inclusion of young children with disabilities in Head Start programs. Thus, a Head Start program was selected as the setting from which to recruit participants. After specifying the situation to be observed, the re searcher must determine whether specific behaviors are
58 relevant to the general aim of the activity. In this study, behaviors and incidents reported by teachers that might reasonably expected to directly or indirectly in the short or long term to have a significant effect on the general aim (specifically in this study the general aim is the desired outcomes of inclusive experiences explicate d in the DEC/NAEYC Position Statement) were included. Finally, according to Flanagan, researchers will want to consider not only if the incident had an effect on the general aim, but the significance of the effect. In collecting critical incidents, the foc us is on collecting incidents or behaviors that were extreme and si gnificant in contributing to the success or failure in reaching the general aims. For the purpose of this study, questions were designed to elicit recollections of significant incidents fro m the perspective of respondents that had an appreciable impact (positive or negative) on the general aim (Flanagan, 1954) Selection and Sampling of Participants. Flanagan recommends that participants be selected based on their familiarity and experience with the activity under study. Thus, p articipants were selected using purposive sampling. Purposive sampling involves strategies and criteria for selection of participants who can offer information abo ut the phenomena of interest ( Creswell, 2007; Hatch, 2002 ; Merriam, 2009 ) To bolster the likelihood of identifying participants with knowledge of the phenomena of interest p rimar y criteria were established for inclusion in the study These two criteria i ncluded : teacher in a Head Start program, and teacher experience with inclusion. Specifically, teacher experience with inclusion referred to teachers that ha d taught children with IEPs ( i ndividual e ducation p lans ) where the teacher had some or all of the r esponsibility for implementing the individual individual needs (i.e., teachers who only provided services to children who have IEPs
59 for speech and who were not responsible for delivering speech services in the cl assroom w ere not eligible for study participation ). The rationale for this requirement wa s to capture the e xperiences of teachers who had the responsibility of implementing an individualized plan for a young child with a disability. To identify potential participants Head Start administrators were asked to nominate a n initial list of potential participants for the researcher to contact. S nowball sampling was then used and involved asking study participants to nominate peers or colleagues that might be int erested in study participation. Sample size. Use of CIT does not lead to straightforward decisions about sample size; rather the researcher must consider the purposes of the study and the activity under study (F lanagan, 1954; Radford, 2006). In a review o f studies using CIT in the nursing literature, Brandbury Jones and Tranter (2009) found that sample size varied from less than ten to over one thousand participants. Across these studies, some researchers collected more than one incident or critical behavi or per participant, and Bradbury Jones and Tranter note d that a great deal of data can be collected using this technique that is not tied solely to sample size. Th e present study proposed a tentative sample size of 8 to 10 participants with the stipulation that the number could be modi fied after the researcher entered the field if necessary to better explore and understand participant perspectives (Creswell, 2007). Data collection was c onsidered complete when there was evidence of saturation of categories, and subsequent interviews would likely produce only small bits of new information (Merriam, 2009). Participant recruitment. The researcher contacted administrative personnel of a Head Start program in a mid size school district in Florida to obtain permission to
60 contact teachers for study participation The school district was the Head Start grantee. After a meeting in which the research er admini strative permission was granted. An administrator provide d a list of current teachers wh o had experience with inclusion This list included nine Head Start teachers and their contact information. These nine teachers were contacted through email and provided information about the study and invited to part icipate. If there was no response to email, a brief site visit was conducted by the researcher to provide information about the study and invite participation (see flyer for teachers, Appendix B) During recruitment, participants were assured that their p articipation was voluntary and that administration would not be notified as to which participants elected to participate or declined The process and purpose of the study was explained to teachers and informed consent was obtained (see letter of informed c onsent, Appendix A). Teachers were given copies of the letter of informed consent, interview protocol (Appendix C), and demographic survey (Appendi x D) prior to their interviews. During the recruitment process, an additional teacher became aware of the res earch study and asked to partic ipate so the researcher also provide d her the aforementioned information. Of the 10 teachers contacted, eight elected to participate in the study. Dur ing the data collection process, p articipants were asked if they could sugg est other teachers that might be willing to participate in the study, however, this yielded no names that had not been previously identified through administrative nomination. As a small token of appreciation for their time, the researcher provided partici pants a ten dollar gift card to a retail store at the final meeting between researcher and participant. All participant data
61 was de identified and stored in a secure location in accordance with IRB procedures to ensure participant confidentiality. Setting information. All participants in the study were teachers from a Head Start program run through a school district in a mid size county in Florida. This site was chosen because of their historical interest in receiving professional development to improve the ir practices related to identifying and serving young children with disabilities. The Head Start program included 37 classrooms across 12 school sites and served approximately 640 p reschool children (District Annual Report, 2010). To support inclusive practice, the district Exceptional Student Education (ESE) Department and Head Start program had collaborated to form four co teach classrooms. These classrooms were co taught by an ESE teacher and Head Start teacher. All four of the H ead Start teachers from these classrooms elected to participate in the study. Additionally, the Head Start program was accredited by the National Association for the Educ ation of Young Children (NAEYC). children 28 (4%) were children iden tified as having disabilities and were being served with IEPs Twenty ( 70%) were identified as having developmental delay and 4 (1 4%) were identified as having speech impairment s Additionally, o ne child (4%) was identified in each of the following eligibi lity categories: orthopedic impairment, visual impairment, health impairment, and brain injury. Participant information. Participants completed a questionnaire that queried basic demographic information as well as information about their teaching experien ce and setting ( see questionnaire, Appendix D). All eight study participants were female. Four identified themselves as Caucasian/Non Hispanic and four identified themselves
62 as African American/Black. One participant was younger than 25; two were between t he ages 26 and 40; four were between 41 and 55; and one participant was older than 56. completing a b b ne had co mpleted a The average years of experience in Head Start was approximately 7 years with a range from 3 months to 22 years. In addition to experience with Head Start, all participants had prior experience in the early childhood settings or o ther educational settings. The average years of prior experience in other settings was approximately 9 years with a range from 6 to 22 years. Step 3. Collect the Data The primary method of data collection in this study was interviews. According to Flanagan (1954), interviews are a preferred method for recording critical incidents because they allow the interviewer to ensure that all necessary details are provided. Interviews. Interviews are a method for gathering information, experiences and in terpretations from pa rticipants that usually involve s purposeful conversation between two people (Bogdan & Bilken, 2006 ; Hatch 2002 ). The structure and process used in an interview should Fontana & Frey, 2005 ). This stud y use d semi structured interviews that w ere guided by an interview protocol (se e interview protocol, Appendix B ). The protocol was used to ensure data gathered related to the purposes of the study, with flexibility to explore issues reported by participant s as needed ( Hatch, 2002; Schwandt, 2001). The i nterviews were conducted across two sessions with a final third member check The first session was dedicated to establishing rapport, collecting background information, and priming participants to consider an experience with inclusion that was critical and significant in shaping their
63 outlook or beliefs about inclusion. S ince identifying critical incidents is a reflective process, allowing the participant time between interviews was intended to allow them to select their most significant experience and reflect before answering detailed questions ab out the critical incident. The second interviews were conducted one to two weeks after the first interview depend ing on schedule availability. E ach interview ranged from 20 to 40 minutes in length. All interviews t site in a room that they selected for privacy and comfort. The interview protocol included op en ended questions that prompt ed participants to discuss backgrou nd experiences with inclusion (I nterview 1) and description of an incident they view ed as critical to their experience with inclusion (I nterview 2) More specifically, during Interview 2 questions were designed to elicit descriptions of: a particular situation the parti cipant viewed as critical to their understanding of inclusion, the behaviors and actions of key contributors to the situation, and reflections on the outcomes of the situation (Rous, 2004; Halquist & Musanti, 2010). Interview 3 was conducted as a member ch eck in which the researcher summarized the content of the previous two interviews and provided opportunity for clarification or expansion. Studies that used the critical incident technique were reviewed to assist in development of the interview protocol. F lanagan (1954) recommend ed use of a protocol to ensure use of the same language with interviewees. He also recommend ed that interviewers ask clarifying questions if needed, but avoid leading questions and this suggestion was followed in this study Audio recording and transcription. Interviews were audio recorded using two recorders The two audio record ers were placed proximate to researcher and participant
64 to ensure quality and to prevent loss of data. Use of high quality recording equipment is one strat egy that can be used to enhance transcription quality (Poland, 2008). During transcription, if a segment of speech was inaudible on the first recording, the second recording was consulted. The researcher completed all transcription for the study. Transcri ption by someone familiar with the data is desirable as it decreases the likelihood of errors related to lack of familiarity to the subject discussed (Poland, 2008). All identifiers (teacher and child names, school names, etc.) w ere removed from interview transcripts and each interview participant was assigned an identifying number to maintain confidentiality. Member checks also allowed for participants to alter any segments of the transcripts they perceived as inaccurate and the member check process will b e further described in a subsequent section. Member checks are another strategy that can add to transcription accuracy (Poland, 2008). Step 4: Anal yze the Data occurs simultaneously with data collection (p. 169, Merriam, 2009). While analysis beca me more formal and i ntensive as the study progressed and after all data had been collected, the organization, management, and exploration of the data began early on Creswell ( 2007) describe d the process for data collection and analysis procedures as occurring in a spiral, rather than linear manner. This process involved developing tentative categories and themes that were useful in answering the research question in subsequent rounds of data collection (i.e., interviews) ( Hatch, 2002; Merriam, 2009). Simultaneous data collection and analysis is preferred in qualitative research (Merriam, 2009) and this strategy w as used in this study. Specifically, the researcher transcribed
65 and summarized each interview prior to each subsequent meeting with the participant so that the researcher could review the prior session and ask additional questions as needed. Analysis of critical incidents involves describing the data so that it can be us ed efficiently for practical purposes (Flanagan, 1954) The challenge of data analysis is balancing the desire for practical application with the need for sufficient detail and comprehensiveness. According to Flanagan, f inding this bal ance involves conside ring: (a) a general frame of reference that will be most useful for describing incidents so that they might be used for practical purposes (b) induct ive analysis processes and definitions to identify broad categories and subcategories, and (c) decisions re lated to reporting in an organized and useful matter. As recommended by Flanagan, data analysis for this study involved inductive and recursive processes (i.e., systematic coding process) to identify broad categories and subcategories. While analysis proc edures and techniques abound in the qualitative paradigm most strategies are inductive and comparative in their approach ( Hatch, 2002; Merriam, 2009). To assist with the efficiency of the systematic coding process, a qualitative software program was employed to assist with data management. Managing the data. Managing qualita tive data requires organization. One option for managing and analyzing data is t hrough computer software programs designed for qualitative research (Creswell, 2007; Merriam, 2009). Qualitative analysis software is a tool that can assist the researcher in coding and retrieving labeled passages and segments of text, and in displaying, c ounting, and sorting data (Hatch, 2002). This study used Atlas.ti software to manage data analysis. The qualitative analysis software was
66 used as a tool, and not as a substitute for careful data analysis and the use of systematic procedures (Hatch, 2002). Analysis process. The analysis process in the current study began with the researcher reading and rereading transcripts several times to become familiar with the data as a whole (Creswell, 2007). Next, the researcher used open coding to describe the criti cal incidents Open coding involved labeling segments of d ata that might be useful. Using Atlas.ti, the researcher highlighted small segments of text and identified codes to represent the meaning of the segment. The content of these codes were the exact wo reviewed (Merriam, 2009) Axial coding followed open coding. In this stage, codes across transcripts were compared and interpreted (Merriam, 2009) In Atlas.ti each project is referred to as a Hermaneutic Unit (HU) Because of the volume of codes generated in the first round of open coding, a new HU was opened. The researcher then toggled between the two HUs to move to the next level of coding and to focus the codes more intently on answering the research question. T o assist in beginning to provide structure to the data, codes were assigned a prefix. Providing codes a prefix i s a logical way to sort codes together within the Atlas.ti program. Through this proces s codes were listed within clusters rather than being dispersed alphabetically among unrelated codes (Woolf, 2007). Prefixes used during this process included: bar for barrier, bg for background, out for outcome, and sup for support (e.g., bar_challenging behavior) This process continued as each subsequent transcript wa s analyzed, and codes were continually co mpared and combined as redundancies and similarities were discovered
67 After all transcripts were coded using prefixes, t he e merging pa tterns and regularities were examined and grouped as categories and sub categories Coding definitions were then developed to guide the category formation process (Ryan & Bernard, 2000) These definitions include d description of each category/ sub category and exemplar data The following recommendations were considered when creating names for categories: (1) they should be responsive to the purpose of the research, (2) they should be exhaustive (i.e., cover all relevant data in the study), (3) they should b e mutually exclusive, (4) they should be sensitizing (i.e., as sensitive as possible to what lies in the data), (5) they should be conceptually congruent (i.e., similar categories should lie at the same conceptual level Merriam, 2009 ). As categories were compared and combined, the data w ere described with higher levels of abstraction. Once categories were adequately defined, the process became deductive in nature as the researcher began a third HU and re coded transcripts looking fo r the existence of the defined categories and sub categories across incidents Again prior codes were consulted as needed. Final categories represented findings that answer the research question s (Merriam, 2009). As coding progressed a record w as kept of where relationships we re found in the data, both within and across categories (Hatch, 2002). This was achieved by beginning new HUs in Atlas.ti at key points in the analysis process. By opening new HUs the original codes were preserved. As described previously t his allowed the researcher to return to previous codes to examine thought processes and to ensure findings were not overlooked as codes became more abstract. It additionally provide d an audit trail that preserved details regarding how the coding process was applied and h ow it resulted in
68 major themes and finding s D eliberate and recursive analysis is im portant to the analysis process (Creswell, 2007; McWilliam, 2000). Table 2 2 is provided as an example of how a quotation and its codes evolved through the analysis process Step 5: Interpret Data and Report Findings According to Flanagan, this step involves reviewing the four preceding steps thoroughly, discussing limitations of the group under study (i.e., how does the group sampled differ from the group as a whole), rev iewing how judgment was used to collect and analyze data, and sharing the results. Researcher subjectivity will be reviewed in a subsequent section in this chapter and C hapter 3 will provide a brief review of the steps Flanagan recommends, the limitations of the group, and will primarily focus on reporting findings. In presenting findings rich, thick description of the findings and evidence in support for the findings (e .g., quotations from interviews) will be provided (Merriam, 2002). Following this description, findings will be related to findings from previous literature and in terms of implications for practice (Merriam, 2002). Methodological Issues When planning for the design of a qualitative study, it is important to provide sufficient detail regarding the point of view of the investigator, the procedures used, how the investigator arrived at her findings, and what meaning can be derived from the findings (Creswell 2007; McWilliam, 2000). This requires explanation regarding theory and res earch that undergird the study (McWilliam, 2000). As described in Chapter 1, t inclusion, use of an ecological systems perspective to understand the barriers and facilitators to inclusion, and adopts the DEC/NAEYC joint position statement as a definition and description of high quality inclusion.
69 Additionally, it is important to consider the vali dity of the data and findings. In qualitative research, validity might be referred to as the trustworthiness or credibility of the data and findings (Merriam, 2002, 2009). One way to enhance the credibility of a study is through member checks. Member check s are a process in which the researcher elicits feedback regarding findings from participants ( Creswell, 2007; Merriam, 2002, 2009; Schwandt, 2001). In this study, as mentioned, a third interview was held for the purpose of member checking. The researcher reviewed transcripts from prior sessions queried areas where the researcher had further inquiry, and attempted to summarize the main ideas gleaned through prior discussions. Participants were offered the opportunity to review their transcripts, elaborate, expand or modify any responses as needed, and correct any misunderstandings or misperceptions voiced by the researcher. P articipants made few changes during the member check Some participants reported they did not wish to read the transcripts themselves and preferred that the researcher only provide a summary. Others read the transcripts thoroughly and either made no changes or merely corrected small typographical or grammatical errors. One participant asked that a brief remark she made about working wit h parents be removed from the transcript When providing the oral summary, the researcher paused often to ask for feedback. Participants indicated they felt the transcripts were an accurate rep resentation and did not voice concerns about accuracy Beyond member checks, m aintaining an audit trail of coding procedures additionally contributed to the dependability of the study ( Merriam, 2009; Lincoln & Guba, 1985; Schwandt, 2001). Further, peer examination and review was accomplished
70 through data analysis meetings with an advisor. Peer examination involves consulting with a peer or colleague (in the case of the present study, peer examination involved examination by a faculty advisor) in which the peer scans the raw data and examines coding processes. These meetings and checks were an opportunity to determine whether codes and findings are plausible given the raw data (Merriam, 2009). Additionally, detailed and rich presentation of the participants, setting, and findings of the study are provided as evidenc e of the findings and to allow the reader to judge the transferability of t he findings to another setting ( Creswell, 2007; Merriam, 2009). Reflexivity and Researcher Assumptions Ref lexivity refers to a process of critical self es, assumption s, and worldviews and how they i mpact process more broadly ( Fontana & Frey, 2005; Schwandt, 2001). Being reflexive throughout the research process can be a way to enhance the credibility of a study ( Creswell, 2 007; Schwandt, 2001). I t is also recommended to provide background information about the researcher ( Creswell, 2007; McWilliam, 2000). It is not expected eliminate all v ariance between researchers in terms of values and assumptions, but it is influence the study (Merriam, 2009). Each researcher brings a unique set of experiences and values to a study. I am an advanced doctoral student completing my sixth year in a School Psychology program I finished my undergraduate degree at the University of Florida in 2004 and upon graduation began teaching first grade in a high poverty school in the state of Florida. I taught for two years and found the role both challenging and
71 immensely rewarding. Education was a fit for me because I saw that there was the potential to help others and because I believe strongly that providing quality education for all children regardless of background or needs, is a priority social justice issue. Through my role as teacher, I learned about the field of school psychology and decided to pursue admission into a graduate program A s a doctoral student, I have participate d in a variety of research and grant experiences, practicum settings and coursework experiences that have provided me the opportunity to develop an understanding of the importance of high quality inclusion for young children with disabilities. In these various capacities, I have had the opportunity to work in several different counties, within dozens of different schools and classrooms, and with many more unique teaching professionals. Having the experience of workin g across these many settings has been eye opening for me in that I observed there to be considerable variability in the quality of educat ional experiences for young children. I believe that all children have the right to high quality inclusive opportunitie s so that each child may develop and learn to reach his or her full potential Summary This chapter provided the methods and research procedures for the current study. The purp ose of the study is to identify and describe important experiences and effective and ineffective practices to support inclusion from the perspective of Head Start teachers. This chapter presented a rationale for the use of a qualitative design. The five steps recommended by Flanagan (1954) were discussed in relation to the cu rrent study. Description of these steps included details regarding: study purposes, participants, data collection methods, analysis methods, and an approach to reporting findings. Additionally, a discussion of methodological issues and strategies for enhan cing the
72 credibility of the study were discussed, and a brief discussion of the researcher background was offered. discussion in Chapter 5.
73 Table 1 1. Participant c haracteristics Participant Age Race Highest Degree Time in Head Start Additional Years in Early Childhood/Teaching Profession Anne <25 White/Non Hispanic AA 7 mos. 6 Beverly 41 55 African American BA 3 years 12 Charlotte >56 White/Non Hispanic AA 22 years 6 Diane 26 40 White/Non Hispanic M.Ed. 5 mos. 8 Evelyn 41 55 White/Non Hispanic BA 5 years 22 Faye 41 55 African American AA 3 years 12 Gina 41 55 African American AA 15 years 7 Hazel 26 40 African American AA 10 years 5 Table 1 2. Coding e xample. Quotation Open Code Axial Code Sub Category Category she was doing things like getting lunches ready and cleaning and there were times when it was really hard to bring him in and be with the other kids and get everything in the Challenge to meet all needs bar_need for more staff Inadequate Ratio Inadequate Structural Supports
74 CHAPTER 3 ITICAL INCIDENTS Introduction Chapters 3 and 4 provide th e results of the study, the purpose of which wa s to identify important experiences and effective and ineffective practices to support inclusion from the perspective of Head Start teachers. This chapter begins with a brief review of the research design, setting, and participants. Next, the experiences reported by participants as critical to shaping their perspectives on inclusion are described. Chapter 4 provides the results of the second research question, namely, the factors rela ted to the critical incidents that contributed to the effectiveness or ineffectiveness of the incident from the perspective of the teacher The implications of these findings as they relate to previo us literature will be discussed in C hapter 5 Research Design This study used the critical incident technique (CIT). As described previously, t he critical incident technique uses a flexible set of principles to gather information about defined situations and examine how the factors related to the situation lea d to effective or ineffective practice (Flanagan, 1954). This study used CIT to collect participant perspectives on effective and ineffective practices related to inclusion from Head Start teachers. This method was used to gather specific information on ph enomena describe the actions or behavior of key stakeholder s in the situation, and prompt reflection on the outcomes of the situation. Addressing t he first research question in the study involved describing the incidents identified by partici pants. This description includes ( 1) antecedent events/factors, (2) the actual incident, and (3) outcomes, both personal and for others. Addressing t he second research question in the study involved using coding
75 procedures to identify factors related to the incident t hat contributed to the effectiveness or ineffectiveness of inclusion in supporting desired outcomes from the perspective of the participants. Participants and Context All participants in the study were teachers from a Head Start program run through a scho ol district in a mid size county in Florida. This site was chosen because of its interest in receiving prof essional development to improve practices related to identifying and serving young children with disabilities. In the years prior to this study the district Exceptional Student Education (ESE) Department and Head Start program had collaborated to form four co teach classrooms to support inclusive practice These classrooms were co taught by an ESE teacher and Head Start teacher as well as two paraprof essionals All four of the Head Start teachers from these classrooms elected to participate in the study. Four additional Head Start teachers with experience with inclusion also participated in the study. Description of Critical Incidents This section add resses the first research question in the study. It describes the most influential incident with inclusion reported by participants. While each incident reporte d was unique, all participants chose experiences that they viewed to be positive overall. All p articipants further reported that they were motivated to continue to provide inclusive opportunities by the growth they witnessed in the children in their care. Six participants reported incidents that occurred within the present school year, while the oth er two participants reported incidents that occurred many years prior to the interview. begins with brief background information on the participant and then describe s relevant antecedent factors or event s
76 that occurred prior to the critical incident Next there will be a description of the actual outcomes for others involved in the incident. A summary is provided in Table 3 1. Anne Anne was a first year Head Start teacher under the age of 25 who had previously worked in a private daycare setting for six and a half years. At the time of the interview, she was completing the requirements for a b anticipated earning her degree within the year. She also shared that she attended Head Start as a child. She was the lead teacher in a three year old classroom with one assistant. Antecedent events/factors. Anne sha red that as a first year Head Start teacher she was adjusting to her new setting because of the increased paperwork demands and the increased need s of the children. It was also her first time teaching a class of all three year olds. She shared: Head Start is hard. There is so much paperwork and so much assessment; nt word than [previous private setting] because there the kids that come i n and this is going to background of these children are definitely not privileged at all. It has been a completely di fferent world. Anne shared that she had a prior positive experience with one child with a disability in the private daycare setting and that she had felt successful in supporting his needs and helping him grow. She also stated that even though the child di d have a disability, his needs were similar to his peers and she felt confiden t in her ability to work with him effectively Further, she shared that w hile she perceived her college courses related to
77 inclusion and working with children with disabilities t o be important, she felt coursework was insufficient to adequately prepare her for teaching experiences. She also stated anning to meet her work demands. Critical incident. Anne identified her most significant experience as an incident during the present school year involving a three year old child placed in her classroom. She shared that the child was blind in one eye and had delayed cognitive, language, and motor skills. She also shared that he had surgery on his heart when he was younger. She perceived it to be a major challenge that he had been placed in her classroom with no advanced notice or opportunity t o plan for hi s needs. Initially, supporting him while meeting the needs of the other children was a significant challenge. She shared: Actually I was thinking about this at night, I totally whole heartedly agree with inclusion, but having him start in my classroom with no prior warning, I guess would be the word, was very difficult. Like I totally believe in inclusion, but I just feel that teach er should be prepared for that. Anne initiated a referral for evaluation for eligibility for special education services eligibility process was taking place, the child remained in her classroom for seven months. During this time, Anne worked with her assistant and the support his participation in classroom routines and he was able to participate with increasing independence. In February, she was invited to participate in an IEP meeting for the child and the team determined that he should be moved into a self contained setting. This provided her an opportunity to participate in her first IEP team meeting.
78 When queried as to how she felt about that decision, Anne I think it was good for him, like I miss him, I think he did learn a lot from the kids here, but all in all I think that having that one on Thus w hile she believed he made progress in her classroom and stated the experience affirmed her support for inclusion she was not confide nt he should continue in her classroom. Personal outcomes. Anne reported she found her most significant experience with inclusion in Head Start to be challenging, but positive overall. could tell he was really making the progress being aro und the children, so that is a very positive experience not only for the child who has special needs, but for the other coursework and through her experience at the daycare, sh e reported: of the things [because] I had not really experienced inclusion. Because like I So I agree wit h it because I experienced it. Thus, she reported that seeing the benefits to the child with special needs and to his peers solidified her support for inclusion. She report ed that the child made more She also reported that the experience increased her knowledge about the referral and eligibility process and gave her the opportunity to participate in her first IEP meeting. she fou nd the experience positive, she maintained that:
79 I still say that parents really should be required to at least let the teacher know what is going on if not have a whole meeting beforehand saying this is what is going on, this is what to expect, that type of thing, especially for expect. with no advanced notice from the family or Head Start program. Outcomes for others. Other persons involved in this incident included the child, Anne described positive outcomes for all parties involved. As mention ed, she reported that months he was doing really well. He would come and he wou ld sit and he wo H e made gains that were captured by a progress monitoring checklist. She commented, never really know what is up there versus what can come ou t so never give up. Keep also noted that her assistant developed a strong bond with the child and that she Beverly Beverly was a Head Start teacher with 28 years of experience working as a school board employee in a variety of educational settings At the time of the interview, Beverly toward a b She described a family history that
80 included two brothers with disabilities, one with a h earing impairment and one with a significant learning disability. Beverly reported that she had been a caretaker to her brothers when she was young. She had volunteered to b e placed in a blended classroom. Antecedent events/factors. Beverly shared that sh e was enthusiastic about working for Head Start and about working with Head Start children and families. She th e for me. If I have problems I know who to call, but Head Start, this is me this is where I he shared sever al success stories including stories about how she had worked with Head Start administration to problem solve how she addressed challenging behavior, and how she developed successful relationships with parents and the community more broadly Critical incident. Beverly identified her most signi ficant incident with inclusion as one that occurred approximately seven years ago and involved a child without a disability and his father. The father initially did not realize that his son had been placed in a classroom with children with disabili ties. Upon visiting the classroom and realizing there were children with disabilities in the same class as his child, the father confronted the teacher and stated that he did not want his child in th e class He continued to say that he did not want his chi ld to be taught by an African American teacher. the father
81 returned to the classroom and apologized to Beverly reporting that the child asked to go he father said: helped her with that little girl s yndrome and he tol d his dad all about it. [His dad said] I should never anything about that, and I should never judge a child because of their disabilities because I just found out that I have a disabilit y and my disability Beverly reported that after th e initial conflict the father made a wooden stand for the advocate for the class with any parent who was nega tive. She shared, I won over with my charm and I had patience. I was forgiving, and caring and nurturing and I did it through his son. And he said, my child is happy in this classroom then I am happy. And he said if my child is happy with children with disabilities in this cla ssroom then I am happy. And this parent volunteered the majority of the time in our classroom and he did a lot of story reading. He went on field trips and he was an advocate for our classroom. He talked to other parents who might be feeling negatively s judge a person by her color because that is not right, because I was African hink that an African American teacher could teach. He said that I surprised him in your life. Over the course of the year the teacher and parent relationship changed dramatically inclusive classroom alongside children with disabilities. Personal outcomes. Beverly reported that the incident caused her some initial self doubt, however she re ported that overall she looked at it as a very positive experience because of the positive outcomes. She reported that the experience
82 strengthened her resolve to work in Head Start and to include young children with disabilities in her classroom. She state d: T hat was a story I will never forget. It was very challenging but made me just work harder and made me just want to do more and I said this is what I want to do. I want to make sure I work in a classroom where children are needed, where parents come in and I can work with parents, and that parent also needed something and he wound up going to a lot of parenting our classroom. Thus, she reported that an incident that was initially ver y upsetting turned into a positive experience. Outcomes for others. Beverly reported p ositive outcomes for the father his child, and the child with a disability. that he overcame his prejudice against h aving his child in a class with children with disabilities and an African American teacher He also became a very active parent in the classroom and participated in volunteer activities and parenting classes. She described the following benefits to the chi ld : He learned how to be caring, he learned how to have self respect and he learned how t He was able to help out, he was a stubborn child disabilities, it made him want to help out with the other children. It changed him, he had no time to be stubborn, an here, to be social with other children. I said dad, there you go, look you got three things in one. He got to be with kids his own age, kids with disabilities, multiple disabilities and he got to learn some different language, he got to work with the PT, OT, the speech therapist. All three came into the room, he got a chance to because he learned how to help others and not be so mean, so he learned self control. Yes, self control, all his skills got m et too, just as well as our other kids with disabilities.
83 She also reported that the child with Down s yndrome who initially triggered the and taking off her leg braces, increased her language skills, and began to follow two step directions. She was also increasingly able to participate with independence in classroom routines and her social skill s i mproved Beverly attributed much of the growth of both children to their a bility to learn from one another. She learning from one another, and they learned better and they learned faster from one Thus she saw the power of the inclusive classroom in impacting all children. Charlotte Charlotte had 22 years of experience as a Head Start teacher. During the current classrooms. Before her teaching position was working on her b She shared that she is an excellent progr am and so it has been one of those things that you h o pe you learn with age and we do have a lot of in about the professional development she had been involved with through out her time as lead teacher. classrooms, she reported having many different children with varying abilities throughout her time at Head Start. She described h er philosophy on working with children with disabiliti es as follows: I find that they have the same needs as other children. They want to be
84 needs as all children and you just have to incorporate their exceptionali ty in whatever you do for them. She also believed that the social emotional benefits of inclusion positively impact all children. She shared that she was greatly enjoying co teaching in the blended classroom dur ing the current school year because of the smaller ratio and the expertise of the co teacher. Antecedent events/factors. Prior to the critical incident, Charlotte had not taught a child with an IEP. The ESE teacher who she w as paired to work with during the incident was someone who she had met previously and that she respected as an effective and knowledgeable teacher. Critical incident. The critical incident Charlotte identified occurred appr oximately 15 years ago, the first time she taught a child wit h an IEP. The child was a three year old with vision and hearing impairments and delayed language and cognitive development. She also shared that he came from a difficult home and had been placed in foster care. To support needs, she worked clo sely with the ESE teacher who was in the classroom next door. The child spent 25% of his time in the ESE Charlotte support the child she and the ESE teacher did a lot of sharing of ideas and co planning and that she began to look at the ESE teacher as a mentor The ESE teacher taught her about delivering instruction, writing IEPs and creating lesson plans. With regard to the support for IEP development Charlotte stated: I was so bl essed to have her as my mentor because the writing in the IEP is your lessons, and then your individualization. You do all that, but an IEP is a lot more technical and difficult. So it was quite different and I was very blessed to have her help to walk through it and teach me and not make me
85 She made me feel like, okay, we are going to do this together. Cha rlotte reported that she and the ESE teacher remain good friends. She said this the became o ver the course of the year and to see his relationships with his peers develop. She also cultivated a the classroom. In addition, Charlotte stated that the families of other children in t he classroom took an interest in the young child and celebrated his progress. Personal outcomes. Charlotte reported that her critical experience showed her the potential for growth that could be achieved through inclusive settings She stated that having her first child with an IEP opened the door to working closely with the ESE teacher, which helped to strengthen her skills. It additionally provided social emotional opportunities for the child as well as opportunities for individualization and repetition It made her want to teach in one of t he blended classrooms. She said: [The blended classroom] makes the best of both worlds because you are both in the same classroom. But that experience helped me understand that to watch the other teacher meet those needs with that child was really an awesome thing and that is why I have such a good positive attitude that this would be such a good classroom having the blended classroom. Overall Charlotte reported that the experience was very positive and that she co ntinued to enjoy the inclusive setting and continued to purs ue opportunities to continue to develop professionally.
86 Outcomes for others. Charlotte reported positive outcomes for all parties inv olved including the child, and t he other children and families in her classroom It was a very positive experience to have him in my classroom because you got to watch him and his growth. And his growth, even though all of the children grow, his growth w as always so much more evident because of his, when he came to us he was so very low that he was almost super dependent on being able to be held and nurtured. And he grew into a very independent little boy who at first would just stand right beside the tea cher, whichever teacher he decided to take hold of that day, to this little boy who and just run out the door. She by volunteering in classroom activities She additionally shared that having a child with special needs in her class brought awareness to the other families of children in her classroom. She explained: I think it brought a lot of awareness to some of our families because when you have a special needs child in your classroom and our families, our Head Start families, are alwa y aw a big difference and they were never concerned that he would bring their children down. Thus she saw social emotional benefits across children and adults in her c lassroom. Diane Diane had a m d egree in Special Education. Prior to her Head Start position, she had worked as a teacher in another state for almost 8 years. In that capacity, she worked with students in special education using a variety of service delivery models. She was the special education co teacher in one position, and also worked in settings in which she delivered pull out (part time special education instruction outside of the general education classroom) and push in services ( part time
87 spe cial education instruction delivered in the general education classroom) She reported she was a firm believer in inclusion as a basic right for persons with disabilities. ed positive experiences as well as very difficult experiences with inclusion in her previous state. She felt that having proper support and staff were essential to making inclusion work and prevent children with disabilities being looked at negatively. Antecedent events/factors. Diane had been working for Head Start for five months at th e time of the interview. N ot only was it her first year in Head Start, it was also her first year in the Florida educational system. Critical incident. While Diane had previous experience with inclusion in the public school setting, she reported that her experience as a Head Start teacher further solidified her support for inclusion. Her experience with inclusion in Head Start was limited because of her short tenure with the program however she still felt her experience with the chi ld with an IEP in her c lass was significant Diane include children with disabilities when she applied for employment with Head Start. When she was assigned a classroom, Diane was informed that there was a child with that she knew how to plan for short and long term goals and individualize during her lesson planning. Diane also had an assistant with 11 years of experience in Head Start
88 and individualization, s he saw t he child make growth in her classroom. Personal outcomes. Because of her experience this year with Head Start, Diane positive for those children to be able to experie nce what all the other kids get to part of Head Start as a program. Outcomes for others. Diane reported positive outcomes for the child with an IEP. She reported the child made gains in communication and in her social relationships with peers. She also reported that the child was able to participate more during group activities and demonstrated a longer attention span. She the opportunities a vailable in the classroom, explaining: When I first started in November she had a lot of trouble communicating with her fellow peers and you could see how frustrating it was for her and basically she stopped talking to a few of them and she would just tur n her Now you can see she tries to communicate more, she initiates conversation with them, which is something totally different that what she was doing in the beginning. So it is g ood growth for her to be able to, besides hearing it thought that there are certain situations where children learning from other powerful. Evelyn Evelyn had worked in private daycare for 21 years, and had worked in Head Start for the past 5 years. She had earned her b Education the school year prior to the interview. During her time at the priva te daycare, she had worked w ith one child with a disability She reported the child had Down Syndrome and that she felt she had been successful in working with the parent and
89 helping the child grow and learn H er first experience s working with children with IEPs occurred in Head Start. Prior to her critical incident, she estimated she had worked with 6 or 7 children with IEPs. Antecedent events/factors. Evelyn had a c lassroom with all three year olds and s he had one full time as sistant. She reported she often helped identify students in need of more intensive services and referred them for evaluations. During the present school year, she had two children with IEPs and two who were in the mid dle of being evaluated She expressed s one classroom just because of their disabilities or IEPs or things like that so I like Criti cal incident. Evelyn reported her most significant experience with inclusion in Head Start happened during the prior school year. She had a child enroll in her classroom with an IEP who primarily spoke Spanish. She felt this was her most significant experi ence because she had been nervous in the beginning about her ability to meet his needs. She said in general, she worried about meeting the needs of children who were learning English, so seeing a child with an IEP who was learning English made her particul arly unsure of herself In the beginning of the school year, the child did not interact with the other children or speak. She used strategies to help him gain She also learned some Sp anish language from her daughter and the disabilities coordinator. She reported that by the end of the year, the child was speaking non stop and that he developed friendships with other children that further enhanced his learning.
90 Personal outcomes. Evely n reported that she went from being fearful regarding she was able to learn some Spanish vocabulary. Outcomes for others. The child in the critical incident went fro m being non verbal to communicating actively and effectively and having social relationships with his peers. His mother was pleased with his growth and wanted him to continue in the clas sroom until the end of the year instead of moving him to a fulltime ES E classroom. The Faye Faye had 3 years of experience in Head Start and 12 years of experience working with young children in other settings. This was her first year co teaching with an ESE teacher in a blended Head Start classroom. She had a b achelor s degree in Early Childhood Education. Prior to her time at Head Start, she owned a family childcare center that provided care to children with di sabilities. She reported that w orking with child care. Her childcare center worked with the Early Learning Co alition to complete developmental screenings and refer childre n suspected of having disabilities for further evaluation. Antecedent events/factors. Faye reported that her interest in working with children with disabilities began when her family realized her grandson had autism. She shared: ve an interest; I had a heart but not an interest. I have a grandson, an autistic grandson and that really piqued my re st of r e a l ly learning about inclusion and really making that a passion of focusing on h ow inclusion fit
91 into the world that I had to figure out how (child name) was going to fit into our pattern. She shared that her grandson received early intervention. A t first she thought it was a pain to work with outside professionals and she said she initially had little trust in them. She said her reluctance decreased once she learned how to work with her grandson and she began to see many positive changes in him Over time she developed strong relationships with early intervention professionals. Cri tical incident. Faye reported her most powerful experience involved a three year old child with autism that was in her classroom during the present school year. He was the most challenging child in her class. The child was physically aggressive to teachers and peers (e.g., biting, kicking, pushing) and was unable to sit still long enough to participate in classroom activities. He would sit on the rug and within a minute h e was jumping and bouncing and flipping In addition, the child only knew a few words to communicate and was not toilet trained She and the ESE teacher began communicating with the ESE department for support. She describ es some of the strategies they adopted : We started using the PECS and we started using a lot of pictures with him when we talk to him. We used short one word. We would put markers down to give him boundaries like we put yellow tape or a star or something to give him boundaries. If we wanted him to line up, he was always the leader first. First one in line and we gave him the yellow piece of tape down at the door just started really tailoring things to him. If we wanted him t o start on the computer, we made sure we were there with him. We paired with him a lot. Our high functioning child that we had in the classroom, she paired with him during center time so if there was a puzzle and those things started working. After several months, the child made s ignificant progress. Faye stated :
92 He is doing wonderful now. He is very independent, verbal, talking, not in sufficient, he takes care of himself. He goes to the restroom and pulls up his maneuvers around the classroom, can choose his center, go to his center, function at that center fine. Faye attributed his progress to having peers as role model s and to teacher modeling and scaffolding. She also reported a close relationship with his mother. Through her interactions with his mother, she improved her own practice in relating to parents and communicating positive information about the child. She shared: During the biting incident she would just come in and almost hated to tell her. Because everyday she wanted to know how did he do. We sent home weekly reports to let her know how things we we re working on at home and at first we found, we looked back at our notes and we thought wow, we were sending home he did this, and it was negative, and he did that, and it was negative. An d we looked and we thought, wow. A nd I thought as a grandmother ever y time I saw that I would feel defeated. So we had to change our way of doing things so we started sending home things that he was doing in the classroom, work that he had done, a picture we had done. We made sure that he had something to take home to show mom. Through the experience, Faye learned the value of communicating positive things about the child to his parent. She additionally said she realized it was important to help parents feel as though they are on the same team. She said: And the biting, I remember the first time he bit me she came in and she cried and she said to me, I just want him to be good and that still bothered me but just touched me that was just so, she wanted him to be okay, she wanted him to be normal. She said I just want him t o be normal. So she was very supportive and still is. She calls us everyday. She called us this morning as a matter of fact and she asks how he is doing, very supportive family. He has a lot of support. She shared that she want ed parents to feel that she c ares about what is happening to the parent and child so they feel supported rather than defeated. Faye also attributed progress to having an excellent team. As a blended classroom, they were staff ed with four adults. She shared:
93 I think being my first year in the blended classroom, it was wonderful to though and not having support. I am really blessed to have support the first time I experienced the blended classroom in Head Start and I think that is why it has been such a positive thing for me. Since her ESE co teacher was a first year teacher, she also reported they sought out additional support from the ESE department and from the Head Start Disabilities Coordinator. Personal outcomes. Faye reported that the experience solidified her desire to work in an inclusive classroom She did not initially volunteer for a blended classroom, she was assigned by administration. no, oh no. But watching from the beginning and seeing the progress I know that okay, I do want to do this. It made me really look inside myself and know this is what I want to She additionally improve d her communication with parents. Outcomes for others. As described previously t he child in the critical incident made tremendous growth. He learned to communicate verbally, perform self care skills independently (e.g., use bathroom and open milk) and pa rticipate in classroom activities and routines independently. He also developed re lationships with peers and showed strong relationship and they communicate d often about his progress and how to best support the child across home and school. Gina Gina had an Associate in Science Degree in Early Childhood Development and had worked for the district school board for 20 years, 15 of them for Head Start Although she had work ed for Head Start for a significant amount of time Gina reported that she was felt it was difficult to stay current with regard to the regulations and
94 requirements mandated by the Head Start program While she was not specific as to which requirements wer e burdensome, she seemed to have mixed feelings about the Head Start program. She was currently working toward her b shared that she had always worked with children with special needs throughout her career. She reported that she was mo tivated by the growth she sees in the children over the course of the year. Antecedent events/factors. This was the second school year that Gina had taught in a blended classroom with a full time ESE teacher and two assistants. She reported that she found the additional personnel in the classroom important because they have behavior problems and to just try to help them meet their IEP goals, we needed more staff to implement what they needed to d it was important for children with disabilities to have role models. Critical incident. Gina reported that the current school year was an excellent experience overall, because of the ratio of four adults to fifteen children. Of their fiftee n children, e ight had IEPs. Her critical incident occurred during the current school year and was especially rewarding because the child involved made significant progress. She reported that she had heard from teacher the previous year that his behavior was very challenging and that t he only activity they were able to engage him in was doing puzzles. kick, you know because he sits right in fron t of the teacher he would kick us. He would do outbursts at his peers, kind of be a loner and not participate in play activities with his She stated that she approached his mother and asked her to come in and
95 watch his behavior in the classroom a hat: We had to tell the mom that he needs to go to his pediatrician and we asked that she get the Connors form from her pediatrician which she did, she followed through on that and she took him to the pediatrician and he has now been diagnosed with ADHD and he is taking medication and it is just a big change from last year. Since taking medication, she reported his behavior has improved She attribute s his improvement to the medication, having peers as role models, and her setting high academic and behavior expectations for all children. Gina reported they are now focusing on pre academic skills such as naming colors and writing his name. Personal out comes Gina reported that the major outcome for her was a sense of accomplishment gained from seeing such a large improvement in the child from the beginning of the school year to the present. Outcomes for others. The outcome for the child in the incident was improved behavior and classroom participation. Gina reported he continued to struggle with pre academic goals. She additionally reported that his mother was pleased with his progress. Hazel Hazel began her career in a private preschool where she worked f or five years with infants through children age four. She had been working as a Head Start teacher for the past 10 years. She spent the majority of those years in a 3 year old classroom. She began her career in Head Start at the recommendation of her Aunt who worked with the program for many years and i s now retired. Hazel reported she planned to continue working for Head Start hoping to transfer to an office position eventually. She
96 was currently working on her b d Education in order to meet Head Start requirements. Hazel reported that she believed inclusion was important in helping children get ready for kindergarten and in meeting the needs of all children. She also reported that she thought inclusion might not be appropriate for all children, depending on the severity of needs of the child. She shared that her earliest experience working with children with disabilities was babysitting a child with special ne eds when she herself was a child. Antecedent events/factors. Hazel was teaching a three year old classroom with one assistant She had two children with IEPs in her class and one who was in the process of being evaluated. Critical incident. Hazel shared an experience that occurred during the present school year. She reported that in November she began a referral for an evaluation for a had concerns about his speech and communication. The child was recently found el igible for ESE s ervices After the child was found eligible for ESE, she reported that an ESE teacher wrote out the IEP and wrote goals for her to work on. She shared that she worked with him regularly on his pre academic and communication goals and though t it was positive that he made progress. She reported that through organization and planning she was able to find time to work with him on his goals. She found it frustrating that the referral, evaluation, and eligibility proc ess had taken so long; she par ticularly disliked that the timing was out of her control.
97 Personal outcomes. Hazel reported that it was positive for her to see the child make progress. Outcomes for others. Hazel reported that the child had made some progress in his speech and communic ation, but his progress in acquiring pre academic skills and knowledge was slo w. Summary brief background of each participant was provided, followed by description of an tecedents, the actual incident, and outcomes for participant and others. While children with disabilities in some context prior to the critical incident they selected. I n addition, all expressed positive attitudes toward inclusion. Another similarity was that all participants chose experiences they viewed as positive overall. All participants reported they were motivated by the growth they witnessed in the Head Start Chil dren in their care. Of the four participants that worked in blended classrooms, all mentioned how much they valued the opportunity during their interviews. The next chapter will describe the factors the contributed to effectiveness or ineffectiveness of th e inclusive experience.
98 Table 3 Participant Antecedents Incident Outcomes Anne First year Head Start teacher First year working with classroom of all three year olds Child with significant needs was placed in her classroom without notice or planning Worked with family and aide independence Found experience challenging, but positive Child made growth in her classroom but was transferred to self contained setting Beverly* Caretaker to family members with special needs Father of child without a disability wanted to remove his child from the class and doubted her ability to teach Strengthened personal resolve Developed positive relationship with father Child made growth, as did other children in classroom Charlotte* Had not worked with a child with an IEP Paired with ESE teacher she respected and admired Child had an IEP and significant learning needs. She worked closely with the ESE teacher next door to plan and meet his needs Strengthened commitment to inclusion Reported positive outcomes for child with disability, his family, and for peers Diane First year in Head Start (previous teaching experience out of state) Used IEP and assistant to help with planning and support child in classroom activities Strengthened her resolve to stay as a Head Start teacher Child made growth Evelyn Had worked with 6 or 7 children with IEPs as a Head Start teacher Child with an IEP only spoke Spanish and she felt insecure about her ability to meet his needs Increased confidence Child made significant growth
99 Table 3 1. Continued Participant Antecedents Incident Outcomes Faye* Grandson was diagnosed with Autism Child with autism demonstrated challenging behaviors Collaborated to put interventions and supports in place Solidified desire to stay in blended classroom Child made significant growth Developed positive relationship with mother Gina* Second year in blended classroom Child had low rates of engagement and high levels of challenging behaviors Teacher invited mother to classroom and recommended she speak to her pediatrician Child was treated for ADHD and his behavior improved Had sense of personal accomplishment Hazel Teacher in three year old classroom At the beginning of the year, Hazel and a parent referred a child for an evaluation Child as found eligible for ESE services Teacher implemented IEP Child made gains in speech and communication; progress in acquiring pre academic skills was slow *Indicates teacher had a blended classroom during the 2011 2012 school year.
100 CHAPTER 4 SUPPORTS AND BARRIER S Factors that Contributed to Effectiveness The second guiding research question f or this study addressed factors that contributed to the effectiveness or ineffectiveness of inclusion. Factors that contributed to the effectiveness of inclusion will be referred to as are factors reported by teachers that can reasonably be expected to have a positive impact on achieving the general aims of inclusion. Conversely, factors that contributed teachers that can reasonably be expected to have a negative impa ct on achieving the general aims of inclusion. The primary supports that emerged as categories from the critical incident interviews included: (1) use of classroom strategies and approaches, (2) structural supports, (3) access to peers, (4) practitioner v ariables, (5) relationships, (6) collaboration and (7) supportive parent/caregiver behaviors (see Figure 3 1) Supports will be discussed first and barriers will be discussed in a subsequent section. Use of Classroom Strategies and Approaches This catego ry refers to classroom approaches and strategies described by teachers as supportive of child growth and development or to the general aims of inclusion more broadly. Within this category, several subcategories were identified: (1) individualization, (2) a necdotal notes, (3) creation of a positive climate, and (4) use of a behavior management system. Individualization. Six teachers mentioned the importance of individualized instruction, strategies or supports that helped children participate in classroom activities. Several teachers reported a teacher
101 or aide helped the child make growth. Charlotte difference for him to be able to have that one on one. First of all I think it empower ed Three teachers mentioned how important it had been for them to identify and build on child interests in order to begin to engage the child in classroom activities. This included finding materials and activities that interested the child. While individualizing was reported by some participants as time consuming or difficult depending on the availability of time for planning or the ratio of adu lts to children other participants saw the value the of planning to meet individual students needs and implementing indi vidualized instruction For example, Faye place and individualizing for him in the classroom th en he started responding and we valued having the time and human resources to make it possible. Anecdotal notes. Three teachers mentioned using anecdotal n otes to record student progress Diane bits of information on where she These teachers shared that these notes helped them in planning for future activities. Positive climate. Three teachers mentioned the im portance of a positive climate i n making their classroom an effective inclusive environme nt acknowledging the role that adults lay in setting the tone and climate for the classroom A positive climate could be seen in how adults treat one another, how adults treat children, and how children treat one another.
102 Classroom behavior management sy stem. Gina identified her classroom management system as an important support for the children in her classroom, particularly for the child with a disability who was the focus of her critical incident. Her system included frequent review of rules using beh avior puppets, a stop light system for tracking child behavior, and stickers. Notably, this teacher also indicated challenging classroom behavior as a significant bar rier for children in her class Structural S upports This category was used when teachers referred to features of care and education that can be regulated Subcategories of structural supports included: (1) a blended service model, (2) departmental support, (3) informational support, and (4) adequate planning time. Blended service model. F our of the teachers interviewed worked in blended classrooms. As mentioned, t he district ESE Department and Head Start program had recently collaborated to form four co teach classrooms that teachers referred to as blended classrooms These classrooms we re co taught by an ESE teacher and Head Start teacher with an assistant from each program, for a total of four adults. Three of the teachers interviewed in this study were completing their first year with in a blended classroom, while one participant was in her second year Thus, for all participants it was a relatively new experience to be working in a blended model. P articipants spoke positively about the model and stated that they believed it supported effective inclusive practices Participants specific ally expressed that they saw the benefit of the model in reducing the ratio of adults to children Faye to individual
103 The reduced ratio created opportunities to individualize and meet child goals. Faye explained: You are able to do individualization having four people in the classroom It ly able to work on building up some areas for how you would d o it with two in the classroom. Gina Beyond the benefits related to the ratio of adults to children Participants expressed their appreciation for the sup port provided through the model because of the increased access to other professional s. Gina shared: I think being my first year being in the blended classroom, it was wonderful myself though and not having support. I am really blessed to have support the first time I e xperienced the blended classroom in Head Start and I think that is why it has been such a positive thing for me. While supportive relationships were mentioned elsewhere this category was used when teachers expressed the benefits they saw directly from the blended classroom. While two of the four participants of co teach classrooms chose critical incidents that preceded their experience in the blended classroom, all spoke of the model positively. For example, Charlotte reported her collaboration with an ESE teacher in her critical incident 15 years prior led to her willingness to be a teacher of a blended classroom She said that because of her critical incident she knew the co teach model would be an tive attitude that this would be a She saw the blended model as being
104 with access to the general education classroom. It see ms notable that all participants spoke highly of the experience. Departmental support. This subcategory referred to departmental support department. Participants reported acces sing departmental support when they had questions. For example, Diane Several participants mentioned that they were comfortable seeking out h elp from Head Start personnel in getting their needs met. Faye also said that to assist the focal child in her critical incident, she and the ESE teacher contacted the ESE department to obtain more information on implementing Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS). Informational support. Another structural support reported by participants was informational support. Two informational support. understand a Diane when she first start ed with the Head Start program in order to understand the nature ategies to use with the child. Adequate planning time. Two participants reported that having enough time to plan for instruction was an important support. Diane shared: time to plan because once the students leave, anywhere between 1:45 and 2:00 I have until 3:15 to plan. I have an hour and fifteen minutes every day
105 She contrasted the time for planning available wit h the Head Start program with her previous experience in a daycare. In the daycare setting she had no time to plan when children were not present. Evelyn also mentioned that she appreciated the hour and fifteen minute planning block, and that she also some times stayed after school to work late because she did not have family obligations. While these two participants expressed the amount of planning time was a support, this was not consistent across participant s as lack of time was mentioned as a barrier. Access to Peers This category was used when teachers mentioned interactions and relationships among peers as category, participants reported that these relationships materialized in different ways and these were represented in three subcat egories: peers as friends, peers as models, and peers as helpers Peers as friends. This subcategory was used when participants mentioned supportive friendships between the focal child and peers. T he majority of participants interviewed identified the benefits of peer friendships for all children, including children with disabilities Faye friends. He can call them by name. He can c all them to enter into his play and before he provides a context for children to learn and practice important skills. She further shared, riends are grabbing him and hugging him and that is something we have been seeing in the last three to four months, just the tender touches
106 were also seen as motivating. Diane explained that peer relationships provided a context for learning opportunities that were: More fun, I guess you would say. Because it will be just them walking the playground think it is so much more beneficial to them because it is a more fun way to learn. These friendships also provided a context for children without disabilities to learn about individual differ ences. Anne recalled how easily children accepted one another: I never had any that said anything. Like I had a new one that started and he out of that eye and that was all. There was never any teasing or any more questions tha n that, they just accepted him for who he was. Thus peer friendships provided important opportunities for all children in Peers as models. Par ticipants a lso reported t he benefits of having peers as positive models. Participants felt it was important for the children with disabilities to have opportunities to learn from peers. Diane shared: Besides hearing [appropriate communication] from teacher s, she is able to situations where children learning from children is very influential on them. It is very powerful with them. So I think that was a good help. Beverly children were learning from one another, and they learned better and they learned faster from one another. So the things we were trying to teach important, and sometime s even more important, than learning opportunities provided by adults.
107 Participants also shared their observations of how children with disabilities learned specific skills from watching, then imitating peers. Evelyn shared: He was ready to watch and he d doing, like I said. He modeled the children and would sit at the table and he would just kind of look around for a few minutes and realize what they were doing in the small group and then he would begin to do his activity or his writing or whatever they were doing at the time. Beverly similarly explained: She learned to put thing s away, when before she would just walk off and leave them. She had other kids her own age to model it for her. She would watch what they do, and she started picking up and cleaning up and putting things away. She was doing it so well. Participants also mentioned intentionally pairing children with disabilities with more capable peers. These opportunities were highly valued by participants in supporting Peers as helpers. This subcategory was used when teachers mentioned peers playing a helper role to a child with a disability. Gina described how children in her class helped a child with a disability as follows: They were all very careful with her, no one screamed at her. They were very protective of her and that is what made it work so well in the classroom. They all started being involved and if they saw her twitching, they would raise their hand, she needs to go to the restroom! They would tell me and so we had a lot of helpers in the classroom with that and I thought that was really good. Evelyn explained that in her classroom, They accepted him, they helped him and they even watched the aide and they would try what we did. We would have him speak slower so he could repeat and we would give him a lot of time to express himself because we to use and I think the other children picked up on it because a lot of times And they would try that.
108 Gina also shared that being able to help others had benefits to the children in the class that did not have d isabilities. Other participants echoed this observation of the benefits to all children. For example, Faye shared that being a helper provided opportunit ies for children to learn to be Practitioner Variables Participants reported personal variables that they believed impacted their effectiveness in implementing quality inclusive environments. This category contained t wo subcategories: teacher attitude and teacher personality. Teacher attitude. Participants often mentioned that they felt their attitude helped them succeed in achieving the general aims of inclusion. This included their personal commitment to inclusion. F or example, Diane said: I am very open to inclusion. I think it is very positive for those children to be a ble to experience whatever all the other kids get to experience. Being kind what everybody considers normal. I am very much for [inclusion]. could see how important the experience was for children. Also, seeing the growth in children was a reported motivator in persevering through challenges and in strengthening a commitment to inclusion and early childho od education. Teacher personality. Teachers also attributed their success to characteristics of their own personality that they felt helped them succeed in achieving the general aims of inclusion These attributes included being charming, patient, forgivin g, and nurturing. Additionally, several teachers men tioned the importance of being easy going and flexible.
109 Relationships Participants reported relationships were important in supporting inclusion. These included : teacher to child relationships, assistan t to ch ild relationships, school staff to c hild relationships, and teacher to community relationships. Teacher to child relationships. Three teachers mentioned that their relationship with the focal child in their incident helped to keep them motivated. F or example, Diane that this relationship helped her move forward her work with the child. T eachers felt an emotional connection or bond was an important support for their work; one teacher stated that her focal child in her my her to stay motivated Assistant to child relationship Anne reported that her assistant developed a close relationship with the focal child of her critical incident. She felt this helped support participation in her classroom. School staff to chil d relationship. Anne also reported that she felt that the school as a whole was welcoming to the focal child of her critical incident. She shared, even the teachers next door, janitors and everything would say hi to him. Very well at the pos itive att ention toward the child from school staff helped her to feel supported. Teacher to community relationships. Charlotte reported that she felt that the relationships she had built within her community helped to support her classroom practices. She share d th at because she was known in the community, she was able to build trust in relationships with families more quickly.
110 Collaboration This category was used when participants worked with others in pursuit of a shared goal. While relationships as discussed in the previous category are important to collaboration this code was used when participants reported individuals or teams came together to work towards a mutually desired outcome that supported inclusion. Subcategories included: team collaboration, teacher teacher collaboration, and teacher assistant collaboration. Team collaboration. Many participants described the importance of collaboration within their classroom teams and that teamwork was essential to their success. Collaboration took time to discuss a nd to reflect on how things were going in the classroom. Charlotte shared: We have a lot of meetings or sit because there are four of us, I see a lot of growth there. And I really think it is a team effort. You have to say alright these might be our differences but the classroom just work on the things that are alike, t hat we all have the goal that we want the children to prosper and to learn and to become better by the time they leave us we want them to be the best they can be. So that is what it takes. Team collaboration also required clear communication with a focus on a shared goal. Charlotte further stated: You have to be adult enough to say, if I do something that bothers you, and that works. And I think you have to be really upfront. I t hink you really Teamwork included helping o ne another if someone was having an off day. Beverly
111 one piece, it was also important that in general everyone contributed to the shared goal. Gina has to pitch in and be a part of it and that is what shared goal with clear communication was important to many of the participants. Teacher teacher collaboration. Two participants referenced collaborating with their ESE co teacher to develop or implement IEPs. These participants reported working together and sharing information and ideas in order to develop goals. Gina teacher] and I, we work tog ether to help develop the IEP. She talks Charlotte shared that she was grateful for the opportunity to collaborate with the ESE co helpful in planning. Teacher assistant collaboration. One teacher reported that collaboration with her assistant helped to support effective classroom practices. Diane shared: I work with the assistant and we bounce ideas back and forth off each other about how we can work with each student. If we are doing a lesson and we see that two or three students are not understanding the concept we will bounce ideas off each other say at center time or if it happens later in the different ways of engaging those students and having them get the concepts down.
112 She believed this collaborative relationship helped her to plan more effectively for all students. Supportive Parent/Caregiver Behaviors Participants reported that parents and caregivers also supported growth and development and the aims of inclusion more broadly. Within this category, subcategories included: teacher family relationship and in classroom support Teacher family relationship. Many of the partici pants spoke about the importance of their relationships with families. Participants valued having parents and caregivers very involved in the classrooms. Beverly explained, pare nts, I want to share experiences with parents. I want to give the parents the opportunity to be involved. Look, come look, not from the outside, from the inside. Come inside and be involved and you will see what is going on. Through this involvement, parti cipants reported they felt they were able to support child growth. One quality that participants valued was open communication. P articipants reported that having open communication with parents helped the m be more effective with the focal child in the clas sroom. Anne explained: She (the parent) was always really open about things, like events that happened at home. Like I just want you to know that he is really tired because he and his daddy had breakfast at like 4:00 this morning because he woke up and was hungry, so just little things like that, she was very open. This communication helped her to support the child in the classroom, but she also reported to be helpful. Sh e stated: I mean I really enjoyed how open his mom and grandma were about his progress. Like anything he did that day I would feel completely comfortable
113 was really helpful to ha ve that kind of relationship to share things like that. To share what he was challenged with that day. Several participants saw a relationship with families as a context to provide information to parents and to let them know about classroom expectations S hared expectations among teachers and parents were valued Gina explained the importance The parent has to be on board for what we expect from the kids. Now our expectations are higher so we want the parents to be on the same page as w e Strong relationships with parents were important to participants. In classroom support. Two participants reported that their relationships with parents involved having parents in the Head Start classroom to help support their children. Anne shared that the grandparent of her focal child came in and stayed in the classroom for the first two weeks in order to help him make the transition since it was his first time in school. Beverl y reported that the parent of her focal child was a regular volunteer in the classroom and that he became an advocate for the classroom and helping other parents get involved. Both participants perceived these actions as helpful. Factors that Contributed t o Ineffectiveness The second research question that guided this study also involved examining factors that contributed to ineffectiveness of the incident with inclusi on from the perspective of participants. Factors that contributed to ineffectiveness were referred to as barriers. Barriers are factors reported by teachers that can reasonably be expected to have a negative impact on achieving the general aims of inclusion. The primary barriers reported included: (1) challenging behavior, (2) unsupportive par ent behaviors, (3) inadequate structural supports, and (4) practitioner variables (see Figure 3 2)
114 Challenging Behavior Participants reported that different forms of challenging behavior made inclusion difficult. This included challenging behavior exhibi ted by a child with a disability, and challenging behavior from a group of children. Challenging child behavior. Three participants reported challenging behavior exhibited by a child with a disability made classroom instruction difficult. The behaviors th ey found challenging were physical aggression (hitting, kicking, biting) and being unable to sit long enough to participate in activities. Challenging group behavior. For some participants, difficulties with behavior included the challenge of managing sev eral children in the class Gina explained her frustration: asked them, and sometimes we many need an extra hand if one starts falling out on the floor crying and screaming. It is hard to teach and try to maintain the focus of the rest of the kids if someone is kicking and to keep going with the rest of the kids when one is falling out and not listening. I want everybody to listen and get it. I find that to be sometimes frustrating with me. I have to stop and keep trying to do discipline when I ignore an inappropriate behavior when you ar e trying to teach the lesson. Beverly similarly explained that on some days, the behavior of one child could instigate negative behaviors in several children She said: There were some times that you may get a day when a child might just come in with not feeling good and that child may trip up another child and there were some times that we would really have like three or four that were acting out and we would have to red irect things and cut some things out and stop what we were doing to brainstorm and bring back to rug and go over our feelings and emotions and how we feel today so we could calm everybody down.
115 Participants reported managing challenging behavior took an e motional toll and could be exhausting. Gina it is not easy. Like today was not an easy day at all. I mean, no days are easy but today was hard because we had more than one chi ld just not wa participants saw challenging behavior as a barrier to effective practice Unsupportive Parent/Caregiver Behaviors Participants reported behaviors by parents and caregivers that they perceived to be barriers. These included lack of involvement and communication. Teachers valued parent and caregiver involvement in classroom activities, and predictably, when involvement was absent, it was seen as a barrier. Participants also saw it as a barrier when parents were not involved in the Gina also encountered an initial barrier when a parent reported he did not want his child to in a classroom with children with disabilities. Inadequate Structural Supports Parti cipant s reported barriers related to structura l supports such as : the amount of professional/specialist support, time for planning the ratio of adults to children, and informational support Limited access to specialists. With regard to lack of professional/specialist support, participants reported that their interactions with the speech language pathologist were brief and infrequent, and that increased communication with specialists would be helpful. Limited time for planning. Limited time for planning was also a barrier for some participants. Some participants reported that paperwork and testing took were time consuming and took away from their ability to work with children. For example, Gina
116 stated they might need some more growth but just sitting down and doing testing and It should be noted that some participants reported adequate time for planning and that they did not find the paperwork and testing to be overwhelming. Perception varied across participants. Inadequate ratio. Anne reported additional personnel would be useful in helping her to get everything in the class done (e.g., getting lunches ready) and provide the support needed to engage all c hildren. Lack of informational support. Anne reported a major barrier encountered was I was thinking about this at night, I totally whole heartedly agree with inclusion, but having him start in my classroom with no prior warning, I guess would be the word, was very difficult. Like I totally believe in inclusion, but I just feel that teach ers should be been given some advance warning and assistance in planning. She also felt that she would have liked more information about his abilities and needs because sh e felt that she did not have a full understanding his abilities. Lack of Experience Anne reflected that her own paucity of experience might have impacted her effectiveness as it was her first year in Head Start and as a fulltime lead teacher She reporte d feeling overwhelmed by being new to the Head Start program and new to her inexperience was initially a barrier that the incident turned out positively. Interestingly, when asked about
117 whet her she felt coursework or professional development could have better prepared her, she s aid that she felt she needed experience, not knowledge. She shared: that you have to e xperience. [Classes] give you the laws and background and the things to kind of know where you are at, but as for the actual prepared until (pauses) and then every child is different. It seems that for this participant, she felt that her lack of experience was initially a barrier, but that it was important in preparing her to be more effective in the future. Summary al incidents that contributed to effectiveness (i.e., supports) or ineffectiveness (i.e., barriers) Supports are factors reported by teachers that can reasonably be expected to have a positive impact on achieving the general aims of inclusion. Conversely, barriers are factors reported by teachers that can reasonably be expected to have a negative impact on achieving the general aims of inclusion. The primary supports that emerged as categories from the critical incident interviews included: (1) use of clas sroom strategies and approaches, (2) structural supports, (3) access to peers, (4) practitioner variables, (5) relationships, (6) collaboration, and (7) supportive parent/caregiver behaviors (see Figure 3 1). The primary barriers reported included: (1) cha llenging behavior, (2) unsupportive parent behaviors, (3) inadequate structural supports, and (4) practitioner variables (see Figure 3 2).
118 Figure 4 1. Supports for inclusion identified by p articipants.
119 Figure 4 2. Barriers to inclusion reported by participants
120 C HAPTER 5 DISCUSSION Summary Philosophical, legal, and empirical evidence all under gird inclusion and associated practices. Inclusion involves providing all children access to educational opportunities within their schools and communities and extends to all children regardless of ability (CEC, 2006). The Division for Early Childhood (DEC) and the National Association for the Ed ucation of Young Children (NAEYC) developed a shared definition and vision for inclusion and the National Head Start Association additionally endorsed this statement defined as follows: Early childhood inclusion embodies the values, policies, and practic es that support the right of every infant and young child and his or her family, regardless of ability, to participate in a broad range of activities and contexts as full members of families, communities, and society (DEC/NAEYC, 2009, p. 2). The posi t ion statement further explicates that the de sired results of inclusion are to friendships, and development and learning to reach their full potential (DEC/NAEYC, 2009, p. 2). Th e position statement further specifies that the defining features of high quality early childhood programs and services include access, participation, and supports. Because this description was developed and endorsed by two major professional organizations concerned with early education and care, it was used as a foundation for understanding the desired outcomes in this study. Head Start was chosen as the context for this study because it represents an important context for many young children with disabil ities to receive services alongside
121 typically developing peers. Head Start data indicate that over 12% of the approximately 1 million children served by the program have an identified disability (Brekken & Corso, 2009). Despite a commitment to serving chil dren with disabilities research indicates programs and practi tioners face challenges in implementation and provision of quality services (Hurley & Horn, 2010). Researchers have investigated the values, attitudes and beliefs of teachers who work in inclus ive settings (Odom, 2004) perceived barriers and faci litators to inclusive practice in order to improve professional preparation and practice ( Pajares, 1992). The majority of previous studies employed surveys or questionnaires to capture participant beliefs about inclusion. However, few studies have examined practitioner s actual lived experiences with inclusion. This study used the critical incident technique (CIT) to capture exper iences teachers found critical to their understanding and beliefs about inclusion It further explored the characteristics and qualities of those experiences that functioned as supports or barriers to inclusive practice. Eight Head Start teachers with experience with inclusion were int erviewed across 3 sessions (one with inclusion. tical incidents with inclusion as reported in Chapter 3. Notably, all participants in the present study chose critical incidents that they viewed as positive experiences. Additionally, participants perceived that there were favorable outcomes for the child with a disability, his or her peers, pare nts and c aregivers, teaching assistants, other school staff as well This may have been a result of sampling
122 procedures, as teachers with negative experiences with inclusion might have been less likely to elect to parti cipate in the study. Analysis of the second research question identified barriers and supports that contributed to the effectiveness or ineffectiveness of inclusion from the perspective of participants. The factors that emerged as supportive of inclusion included: (1) use of classroom strategies and approaches, (2) structural supports, (3) child relationships with peers, (4) practitioner variables, (5) relationships with adults, (6) collaboration with adults, and (7) supportive parent/caregiver behaviors. The primary barriers that emerged as categories included: (1) challenging behavior, (2) unsupportive parent behaviors, (3) inadequate structural supports, and (4) lack of experience The rest of cal incidents as they relate to support for inclusion, identified barriers and supports, limitations of the study, and implications for research and practice. Critical Incidents and Support for Inclusion In describing the incidents that shaped their persp ectives on inclusion, a ll participants reported general ly favor able attitudes toward inclusion For example, Charlotte shared: I think inclusion is a very positive thing. I think that our children with differing abilities need positive role models. I also think that our attitude toward the children, all of the children, helps them have a better attitude toward each other. When you have that teamwork, everybody helping each other, I think it is a real positive thing. Previous research indicated that the maj ority of early childhood teachers support inclusion (Bruns & Mogharreban, 2007; Rafferty & Griffin, 2005; Rheams & Bain, 2009). However, not all studies reported universal support (Bennett, Deluca, & Bruns, 1997; Eiserman, 1995). While teachers in this st udy were supportive of inclusion, they varied
123 in their comfort and willingness to discuss their own philosophy of inclusion. Some were enthusiastic about an opportunity to share their views and communicated well developed ideas, while others seemed unsure how to describe their own feelings, beliefs, or philosophy and preferred to discuss more practical aspects of their work. Their responses seemed to reflect differences in amount of time they had spent thinking about inclusion as a philosophy as well as th eir interest in the topic. Because enrollment of children with disabilities is mandated by federal Head Start standards, teachers in this study were not free to make a choice to include children with disabilities in their classrooms as may be the case in p generally positive feelings toward inclusion may indicate higher levels of support than in previous studies, or may simply reflect their with disabilities be i ncluded in Head Start classrooms. Head Start critical incidents focused on day to day practices rather than a commitment to the ideal of inclusion For this particular teacher, the critical incident had an effect on her personal understanding of inclusion, moving her from a superficial acceptance of inclusion to a deeper level of support. However, her desire to teach children with disabilities did not arrive because of a personal commitment, but rather out of necessity. While all teachers expressed general support for inclusion, i t should be noted that support for inclusion was not specifically addressed as a research question, but rather emerged authentically, sometimes spontaneously, in discussions with
124 participants. The protocol asked participants to share an incident with inclusion that was significant in shaping their perspectives and to describe their personal outcomes related to the incident. P articipants varied in their interest in discussing how the incident impacted their personal philosophy on inclusion and many discussed practical outcomes. In general, participants were motivated by the growth they witnessed in the children in their care and shared the practical elements of their critical incident that they believed helpe d the child grow. Previous studies have indicated that teacher endorsement of inclusion is (Buysse, Wesley, Keyes, & Bailey, 1996; Eisermen et al.,1995; Gemmell Crosby & Hanzlik, 1994; H uang & Diamond, 2009; Rafferty & Griffin, 2005) and there was mention of conditional support by three teachers in this study. Two participants reported conditional support depending on the severity of the needs of the child For example, Anne ow that in some Hazel positive Diane reported conditional support depending on the skills and approach of the teacher She recalled an incident in her previous job where she saw a child with a disability being excluded and mistreated It seems this view might be less about a concern for inclusion as a philosophy and more related to a concern for the welfare of children with disabilities when placed in the hands of ineffective teachers. It should be noted that conditional support was not associated with any teacher
125 and previous experiences. Consistent with previous literature (e.g., Devore & Hanley Maxwell, 2000) several participants described specific experiences that may have set the stage for supportive attitudes toward inclusion. T wo participant s reported having a family member with a disability and three reported working with children with disabilities in community childcare settings prior to their tenure with Head Start. Previous studies indicated that teachers with strong professional commitments to inclusion reported personal experiences with inclusion that strengthened their commitments (Devore & Hanley Maxwell, 2000; Leatherman, 2007) and this observation was consistent with participant reports in the present study. In addition, a ll participants had experiences with children with disabilities, either personal or professional, that preceded their critical incident, and previous research (i.e., Bennett et al 1997) suggests that it is likely they had higher levels of relative confidence than teachers with less experience or teachers with a history of negative experiences. Despite the likelihood that participants were relatively confiden t in their ability to work with children with disabilities, three teachers described their critical incidents as one in which they initially lacked confidence in their ability to succeed. For these teachers, the incident was significant, at least in part, because they overcame their lack of confidence and ultimately experienced success, which in turn strengthened their support of inclusion. It likely follows that the positive experience increased their confidence in their ability to succeed in the future (B ennett et al 1997; Gemmell Crosby & Hanzlik, 1994) Beverly
126 Oh, am I in the right field? Am I doing the right thing? However, despite initial self doubt, she persevered and reported the inc ident turned out well for all involved. Similarly, Faye Thus the initial challenge made success all the more encouraging. Cu rrent findings seem to support previous research that while confidence and a positive attitude toward inclusion might contribute to positive experiences, this effect is likely bidirectional in that positive experiences likely also contribute to positive attitudes and enhanced confidence. It is also interesting to consider how a related to inclusion matches with her behaviors in the critical incident. For example, the focal child was tr ansferred out of Head Start to a self contained setting. This needs were significant enough to warrant transfer to a self contained preschool classroom that was run throug (ESE) program and was not affiliated with Head Start. This decision was made despite the fact that Anne perceived that the focal child had made progress in her classroom across developmental domains. A t the meeting the self contained setting was presented as being the best place for the child because of the lower ratio and availability of specialized instruction and support. As a first year teacher, Anne agreed with the team consensus and during the cri tical incident interview she did not seem to perceive that there was any conflict between her beliefs on inclusion and the outcomes
127 of the incident. Anne may have felt that she fulfilled her role as a teacher by providing a positive experience for the chil d, while lacking conviction in inclusion as an ideal. Alternatively, she may have seen herself as a relatively powerless part of a hierarchical system. Lieber and colleagues (1998) hypothesized that teachers define inclusion differently and act differentl y based on their definition. They found that although teachers often used similar language to describe inclusion, that they imbued these phrases with diverse meanings. Perhaps as a first year Head Start teacher whose beliefs and understandings of inclusion in Head Start were still developing, Anne incorporated the decision to move the child to specialized services into her framework for understanding inclusion in Head Start. Unfortunately, this may lead to a conclusion that only children with mild disabilit ies can be served in Head Start classrooms which is inconsistent with a philosophy of early childhood inclusion and with to identify, recruit, and enroll children with disabilities. interesting given her long tenure with Head Start. She had worked with children with disabilities in Head Start for over fifteen years and had taught children with diverse needs. She reported that she believed in inclusion because children with disabiliti es benefit from peer models and opportunities for peer relationships and friendships. Faye chose an incident during the current school year in which she prompted a parent to have a child evaluated for ADHD. It is interesting that out of her extensive histo ry working with children with disabilities in Head Start, she chose an incident whose success she largely attributed to a child being put on medication. Faye was very positive about the blended model and ma y have
128 selected this incident because it was her g reatest child success that occurred within the blended setting. Faye commented frequently during her interview that she had struggled in the past because of having too many children in her class to meet all of their needs adequately. Thus, Faye may have se lected her incident less because of its personal relevance to her in shaping her beliefs on inclusion and more because she wanted to provide support for the blended model due to her pragmatic concerns Faye was also a participant that was somewhat reluctan t in discussing inclusion as a philosophy and preferred to discuss classroom practices. Janko and Schwartz (1997) found in their interviews with professionals that the beliefs and behaviors of teachers related to inclusion were sometimes inconsistent with their stated philosophies. In addition, they found that the official policies of programs did ment (p. 6). The participants in the Janko and Schwartz (1997) study varied in their ability to perceive these inconsistencies, with some accepting inconsistencies as business as usual, others puzzling over how these barriers could be overcome, and still others who did not seem to recognize the inconsistencies at all. This variability in i nsight was also match behaviors in the critical incidents. Supports and Barriers Previous literature has explored the barriers and supports for inclusion through the ecological systems perspective ( c.f. Brofenbrenner, 1979) Within this approach researchers examine d the inclusion of children with disabilities through analysis of the range of contextual factors that affect inclusive practice s Brofenbrenner pose d that
129 another. Central to this model is the biosystem of the child. Previous research on inclusion has examined the biosystem in terms of the nature and severity of child disability (Odom et al., 2004). Next are the microsystems or immediate environments, in which the child dire ctly participates (e.g., school, childcare, and family systems). The mesosystem refers to the relations between microsystems. T he exosystem refers to the inf luences on the child or inclusive settings that indirectly influence the developing child (e.g., regulations or policies). The macrosystem is the broader social, political, and cultural forces that impact other levels of the system. Finally, the chronosyst em refers to the changes in systems over time (Brofenbrenner, 2005; Odom et al 2004). The majority of previous research has examined factors within inclusive preschool classrooms that represent important m icro system settings for young children with disab ilities (Odom et al., 2004) This study also focused at the microsystem level, but used the Critical Incident Technique to examine lived experiences with inclusion. Structural V ariables Previous literature has described structural and process variables t hat contribute to program quality (Huntsman, 2008) Structural supports are aspects of care and education that can be regulated while process variables refer to what actually occurs in the classroom, such as the quality of the child to adult and child to child interactions, Structural quality can set the stage for process quality. A primary research question in this study involved identifying factors that contributed to the effective ness or ineffectiveness of inclusion. Analysis of the critical incidents reported by participants in this study yielded categories that participants felt were important and relate to structural and process variables that have been previously identified in the literature
130 Individualized service model. One important structural support identified was the individualized service model. In a study of the ecological systems in which inclusion takes place, Odom and colleagues (1999) examined the forms of inclusion and found that they varied by organizational context and individualized service models. Organizational contexts included community childcare public school contexts, dual enrollments and Head Start. Examination of the indivi dualized service model yielded a p. 193 ). As mentioned, four of the teacher that participated in this study worked the Team Teaching Model, which is when: An early childhood teacher and a special education teacher both occupy teacher roles in the sam e classroom. They may collaborate in planning, jointly implement educational activities, and share classroom space. Related services are provided in the setting. Four of the other teachers interviewed taught in settings that seem to be best described as a n Early Childhood Teacher Model, which is when: An early childhood teacher assumes the primary responsibility for planning, implementing, and monitoring classroom activities for children with and without disabilities in his or her classroom with little con tact with other special education or related service personnel. Benefits of the blended model. Importantly, teachers who worked in the Team Teaching or Blended setting reported many benefits to th e model. These benefits included: a lower child to adult ra tio, which increased the opportunities for individualization and increased opportunity for collaboration and relationships with colleagues Lower child to adult ratios have been associated with higher global quality scores, higher process quality, and bett er child outcomes (Huntsman, 2008).
131 Participants who worked in the blended setting reported it was important in supporting desired outcomes in their critical incident. The individualized service model is a feature that can be regulated, that is it can be d etermined by program policy but it also connects to process variables in that it sets the stage for better quality instruction and for development of meaningful and productive relationships among key stakeholders. Other structural supports that were identi fied included: departmental support, informational support, and planning time. These structural supports can all be determined by program policy and set the stage for higher quality experiences for children. Importantly, participants identified the absence or shortage of these pieces as barriers. Process variables P childcare or educational setting (La Paro, Sexton, & Snyder, 1998). For example, process quality may be reflected in the engagement of children in developmentally appropriate activities, responsive relationships between children and caregivers, and high quality instructional interactions. Process quality is measured by observing what actually occurs in the early childcare setting. Examples of measures that attempt to capture dimensions of process quality are the Classroom Assessment Scoring System (CLASS; La Paro & Pianta, 2003) and to some extent some items on the Early Childhood Environmental Rating Scale (ECERS; Harms, Clifford, & Cryer, 1998). Process quality is an important indicator of program quality and is social emotional and cognitive outcomes (Huntsman, 2008). Classroom strate gies and approaches. A first major category identified that relates to process variables was use of classroom strategies and approaches. Within
132 this category there were several subcategories that included individualization, classroom behavior management sy stem, and creation of a positive climate. Individualization as referred to by participants in this study included individualized instruction, strategies or supports that teachers reportedly used to help children learn to participate in classroo m activitie s and routines. For example, Diane shared that to work make sure that [when I am] speaking to her and talking to her [that I have] have her full er that little extra time, and letting her know first that I am going Importantly, while this study did not assess the q uality of instruction delivered it was clear that many parti cipants valued individual iz ation When queried they did not provide much detail about specific instructional procedures they use d beyond that they provided one on one support to children or provided instruction on specific goals Use of anecdotal notes was important to teachers as a means of monitor ing child progress and assist ing in planning for future intervention. While teachers reportedly valued planning and individualizing instruction for children in their classrooms, they did not mention using tiered models to organize instruction and intervention, a practice that holds promise for delivering instruction by level of needed intensity (DEC/NAEYC, 2009). Participants further reported the importance of a positive climate. A positive climate is an important emotional support for children Charlotte Faye climat e is positive an light and fun and engaging [the children] are going to get with the
133 R elationships that are responsive, encouraging, and attentive are thought to be indicators of a quality environment (La Paro, Pianta, & Stuhlman, 2004). Access to peers. Access to peers was heavily emphasized by participants as supporting child learning and development that can also be thought of as having a process component Within this category, participants shared that relationships materialized in different ways and these were represented in three subcategories: peers as helpers, peers as friends, and peers as models. Seeing these relationships develop was motivating and inspiring to teachers, and they additionally saw their value in supporting the learning a nd development of children with and without disabilities. Providing a positive climate where children with and without disabilit ies can play and learn set the stage for genuine friendships that were of benefit to all children. Relationships In addition, relationships with colleagues were important. The DEC/NAEYC (2009) joint position statement on i nclusion emphasizes the importan ce of opportunities for collaboration and communication amongst stakeholders. While the supports mentioned by participants were not as broad or comprehensive as those delineated in the position statement, relationships and collaboration were key supports w inclu sive practice. Additionally, supportive parent/caregiver behaviors were valued Practitioner Variables Participants mentioned their own attitudes, values, and aspects of their personality that they believed supported desired outcomes. The
134 DEC/NAEYC (2009) joint position statement reports on the importance of a program to ensure that practitioners and staff operate under a similar set of assumptions, values, and beliefs about the most effective ways to support infants and reference a program philosophy, their own stated dedication to inclusion however inconsistent, represents an important beginning point for developing and committing to a shared philosophy. Developing a shared vision seems to be an important next step in moving the pr ogram forward. As Lieber and colleagues (1998) pointed out, teachers may use similar language to describe inclusion, but interpret these phrases with diverse meanings. By developing a shared culture and creating collaborati ve teams whose members discuss th eir philosophies and beliefs when (Lieber et al., 1998). Participants in this study were not always aware of inconsistencies in their stated beliefs and enacted practices within their classrooms. Lieber and colleages (2000) also found that time devoted to development of a shared vision is important for successful implementation and maintenance of inclusive programs. understandings between Head Start and the local education agency (LEA). LEAs are also responsible for special education services for children with disabilities ages three through five. Thus, there is a need to delineate the roles and responsibilities of each agency. The DEC/NAEYC Joint Positi on Statement on Inclusion (2009) highlights the importance of collaboration among stakeholders. Funding policies ar e recommended that pool resources in order to provide quality care. The position statement uses b lended early childhood education/early childhood special education programs as an
135 example of how this pooling may be effectively achieved. While study participants seems t o call attention to a need for continued examination of how Head Start and the LEA w ork together to coordinate care. Even when program philosophies are well articulated to support inclusive practices, unspoken rules and assumptions may lead to challenges i n implementation during day to day practice (Janko & Schwartz, 1997). Limitations This study used a qualitative research design and while methodological strategies (e.g., colleague examination, member checks) were used to enhance the credibility of the study, limitations exist The stories and perspectives captured in this study cannot be assumed to generalize to other Head Start settings. According to Merriam (1995), while the question of generalizability tends to plague qualitative research, it is impo rtant Participant s experiences with inclusion that were critical to them were unique and diverse, yet shared certain commonalities and yielded rich information about the perceived barriers and supports to their effective practice Consistent with CIT, this study used a semi structured interview protocol as recommended by Flanagan (1954). Most participants in this study reported critic al incidents that were practice oriented, and did not deeply discuss their philosophies related to inclusion. This may have been influenced by the interview protocol, as more open ended questions may have elic ited different responses. Another research design (e.g., case study) might have provided greater flexibility in capturing participant perspectives.
136 Future Research The supports and barriers identified in this study have practical applications, and m any ha ve been previously identified in the literature. One finding in this study that was heavily emphasized by participants was their belief in the strength of the blended model to support inclusive practice. As previously discussed, only four of the eight part icipants worked in these classrooms. While these four participants were very enthusiastic about the opportunity, it is possible that they were selected to be teachers in these classrooms because administration perceived them as having a strong teaching and interpersonal skill set. In addition, two participants volunteered for this position because of their commitment to inclusion, which may have heavily contributed to a successful experience with this model. F uture research might explore teacher perspectiv es or model effectiveness in different contexts. In addition, studies may wish to explore how teacher philosophies impact classroom behaviors by collecting observational data. Formal or standardized assessment of teaching quality was beyond the scope of th e present study. One finding that was heavily emphasized in previous literature was teacher desire for professional development and several studies researched potential topics of interest (Bruns & Mogharreban, 2007; Bennett et al., 1997; Buysse et al., 1996; Dinnebeil et al., 1998; Gemmell Crosby & Hanzlik, 1994; Leatherman, 2007; Seery et al., 200 0) Interestingly, no teacher in this study mentioned formal training as a support or lack of training as a barrier in relation to her critical incide nt. Most of the incidents were driven by an emotional component, and participants did not emphasize technical knowledge or education. Given the finding that many early childhood settings do not meet standards for high quality ( Odom et al., 2004 ), professio nal development is highly emphasized as
13 7 a method for improving quality (Buysse & Hollingsworth, 2009 ) As the field moves toward prolonged professional development delivered via coaching this seems to align well with the emphasis by participants on quali ty relationships as an important source of support that was found in this study (Snyder, Hemmeter, & McLaughlin, 2011) Future research may wish to explore the contexts in which professional development intersects with a critical experience that influences inclusive practice.
138 APPENDIX A INFORMED CONSENT Protocol Title: Critical Incidents Around Inclusion: Experiences of Head Start Teachers Please read this consent document carefully before you decide to participate in this study. Purpose of the research study: To identify important experiences and effective and ineffective practices to support inclusion from the perspective of Head Start teachers What you will be asked to do in the study: To answer and discuss 10 interview questions. Time re quired: 45 9 0 minutes Risks and Benefits: No more than minimal risk. There is no direct benefit to the participant in this research However, this research can add to the understanding of how inclusive practices are enacted in preschool classrooms and id entify implementation supports practitioners believe are important for facilitating their use of effective practices. Compensation: There is no compensation for participating in the study. Confidentiality: Your identity will be kept confidential to th e extent pr ovided by law. The names of the participants will not be used in any research reports or presentations. Voluntary participation: Your participation in this study is completely voluntary. There is no penalty for not participating. Right to wit hdraw from the study: You have the right to withdraw from the study at anytime without consequence. You do not have to answer any questions you do not want to answer. Whom to contact if you have questions about the study: Katrina Moore, Graduate Student Department of Special Education, School Psychology, & Early Childhood, 1403 Norman Hall, Box 117050, Gainesville, Fl 32611 7050; ph (813) 514 3600 Whom to contact about your rights as a research participant in the study: UFIRB Office, Box 112250, Univ ersity of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611 2250; ph 392 0433. I have read the procedure outlined above. I voluntarily agree to participate in this study and have received a copy of this description.
139 ____________________ _________________ _____________________________________
140 APPENDIX B FLYER FOR TEACHERS Hello: My name is Katrina Moore and I am a graduate student in the Department of Special Education, School Psychology & Early Childhood Studies at the University of Florida I am interested in meeting with Head Start teachers who are willing to discuss their experiences su pporting young children with disabilities in inclusive programs. The purpose of this study is to identify important experiences practitioners have had related to inclusion and to describe fully their experiences. Each participant will be asked to participa te in three interviews that will last about 30 minutes to an hour and will be audio taped Interviews will be conducted at convenient times and locations. Participants will receive a $10 gift card to Walmart at the conclusion of the interview. T hrough this research I hope to generate knowledge that will help identify and document important experiences and effective practices to support inclusion. If you are interested, please contact me at the phone number or email below. Katrina Moore KatrinaM@ufl.edu (813) 514 3600 Thank you for your consideration.
141 APPENDIX C INTERVIEW PROTOCOL Inclusion refers to the practice of including young children with disabilities in settings and activities with their peers who do not have identified disabilities. Inclusion can take many different forms and involves providing children with disabilities ac cess to a wide range of learning opportunities, activities and settings; supporting participation through individualized accommodations and supports; and professional development and collaboration help to ensure access and participation (DEC/NAEYC, 2009). Interview One: I am interested in hearing about your experience teaching as well as your experience including young children with disabilities in the classroom or in the community. 1. Please describe your teaching and training experiences. 2. Please tell me about your experience with Head Start. 3. Please describe your experience with children with disabilities. Interview Two: I would also like to hear about an experience with inclusion that was very important or you about this experience you had with inclusion that was significant in shaping your perspective. 1. Please describe the children involved in this experience including the child(ren) with disabilities (approximate age, area of concern or disability, etc.). 2. Approximately how long ago did this experience happen? 3. What preceded and contributed to your inclusion experience? 4. What happened? Tell me about your inclusion experience. 5. Describe how this inclusion experience affected you. (What was the impact or outcome of this experience, either positive and/or negative)? 6. How did this experience affect the child/children? (What was the impact or outcome of this experience, either positive and/or negative)? 7. How did this experience affect the family/families? (What was the impact or outcome of this experience, either positive or negative)?
142 8. How did this experience affect other team members with whom you work (What was the impact or outcome of this experience, either positive or negative)? 9. Tell me about what c ontributed to making the experience effective or ineffective. 10. Please provide any other information you think is relevant. Do you have any questions or comments? Interview Three: The purpose of this interview is to review the transcripts from our time to gether and for you to make any changes or add any information you feel is relevant and would add to my understanding of your experiences. We will review the transcripts together and I will share a summary of the information you have shared. 1. Are there any changes you would like to add to the transcripts? 2. Do you have additional information to share regarding your experience? 3. Would you like to add or change any information provided in my summary?
143 APPENDIX D DEMOGRAPHIC SURVEY Thank you for taking the time to complete this questionnaire. Please answer each question as thoroughly as possible. Age (in years): 25 or younger 26 40 41 55 56 or older Gender: Male Female Race/Ethnicity: White/Non Hispanic Black or African America n Hispanic or Latino Multi racial Asian/Pacific Islander American Indian or Alaska Native Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander Other: ________________________________ Level of Education: Please indicate all levels of education completed. Degree Major/Area of Study High School ________________________________ ________________________________ ________________________________ Please list all teaching certi ficates or endorsements that you hold. ______________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________
144 _____ _________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________ How long have you worked in your current position? _________ Years _________ Months What is the total number of years and months you have worked in early childhood settings? _________ Years _________ Months Please list any other teaching experience outside of your early childhood experiences. Years _______ Setting ______________________________________________ ____ Years _______ Setting __________________________________________________ Years _______ Setting __________________________________________________
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155 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH Katrina Moore was born in Highland Park, Illinois. Daughter of John and Rita Moore, she grew up with a younger brother Geoffrey Thomas Moore. Her family moved to Tampa, Florida in 1992 where she attended middle and high school. She attended the University of Florida and earned a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science in 2004 After graduation, Katrina worked as a first gr ade teacher and later as a case manager for persons with mental illness. She began her graduate studies at the University of Florida in 2007 and earned her Master of Education (M.Ed.) in school psychology in 2011. To complete her doctoral training, Katrina returned to the School District of Hillsborough County as an intern with the S chool P sychology D epartment and completed a yearlong internship. She received her Ph.D. from the University of Florida in the summer of 2013.