Exploring full-service school teachers' self-efficacy within an inclusive education system
Payne-Van Staden, Isabel
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The study aimed to explore full-service school teachers’ sense of self-efficacy in teaching within an inclusive education system. This study formed part of a follow up qualitative phase of an international collaborative research project between South Africa, Finland, China, Slovenia, Lithuania and England. The main purpose of this comparative project was to produce a knowledge base that sheds light on the nature of the development of inclusive education in different countries from a teacher’s perspective. The data from the first quantitative phase indicated that many South African teachers experience a lack of self-efficacy in the implementation of inclusive education. Inclusive education has brought many challenges for full-service school teachers. Classrooms now have a wider range of diverse learning needs and this impacts significantly on classroom practice. This situation often creates stress and can exacerbate feelings of inefficiency. When teachers acquire abilities, skills and professional expertise they often accept the responsibilities of inclusive education and subsequently become more confident about inclusion which in turn empowers them to be more effective in teaching. Adequate professional development and sufficient support can, therefore, help teachers to feel more equipped to address and consequently experience positive self-efficacy beliefs. Teachers with improved self-efficacy will, therefore, become more motivated to implement inclusive education successfully. Consequently, in this research teachers’ sense of self-efficacy within an inclusive education environment with specific reference to South African teachers was further explored. The purpose of my research was to explore factors that influence full-service school teachers’ sense of self-efficacy, enabling or disabling them to implement inclusive education successfully. Bandura’s social cognitive theory of self-efficacy as well as Bronfenbrenner’s bio-ecological framework formed the theoretical framework of this study. To achieve this purpose, a qualitative interpretive design was decided upon by employing a multiple case study (two full service schools) as strategy of inquiry. Twenty one teachers voluntarily participated in this research, eleven from the first school and ten from the second school. Data was collected through qualitative data generation methods which included focus group and individual interviews, collages and an open questionnaire. The findings from the literature review as well as the empirical data revealed that self-efficacy as a concept was best described and understood in relating low with high teacher self-efficacy. A teacher with a high sense of self-efficacy can be viewed as a person who exhibits and portrays certain traits and skills. It was evident that sufficient knowledge about what inclusive education entails, intra- and inter-personal skills, as well as values that take the best interest of the learner into consideration, are essential for teachers to experience a high sense of self-efficacy in an inclusive education environment. The findings also indicated that certain ecosystemic factors are currently enabling and disabling teachers’ sense of self-efficacy to implement inclusive education successfully. These factors were reflected in the specific needs of teachers to be more self-effective in an inclusive education system. This included more and effective continuous professional development opportunities (CPD) for professional and personal development; increased and improved support from the Department of Basic Education (DBE) (provincial and district) as well as the school and peers; improved collaboration with parents, NGO’s and HEI’s; a more flexible curriculum; and more acknowledgement for achievements from the school, parents and the DBE. These needs were addressed in recommendations for teachers themselves, the schools and the DBE in order to develop and enhance teachers’ sense of self-efficacy, within an inclusive full-service school.
- Education