Abstract

The purpose of this study is to examine attitudes towards inclusion of students with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASDs) and self-efficacy beliefs of preservice teachers. Background factors will be explored in relation to both attitudes towards inclusion and self efficacy beliefs. ASDs are becoming the fastest growing developmental disabilities with 1 out of every 150 births being diagnosed as having one of these disorders.

ASDs are typically defined as developmental disorders and can range in symptoms from mild to severe. They are identified by abnormal or impaired development in social interaction and communication combined with a restricted repertoire of activities and interests. As a result, more children with ASDs are in need of educational services. Preservice teachers will be surveyed for their level of efficacy as well as attitudes towards inclusion of children with autism spectrum disorders.

Preservice Teachers' Efficacy: A Correlate of Attitudes towards Inclusion of Students with Autism Spectrum Disorder

Chapter 1: Introduction

This study will focus on self-efficacy beliefs preservice teachers’ and their attitudes towards inclusion of students with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASDs). Historically, inclusion studies have broadly focused on students with general disabilities without differentiation of the 13 disability categories as listed in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act of 2004 (IDEA).

It is necessary to briefly address special education law in order to understand how students with exceptionalities are placed and serviced within the education system (either in special education, general education, or a combination of classes). IDEA is the federal legislation that regulates the education of students with disabilities (Woolfolk, 2010). It was originally enacted by Congress in 1975 to ensure that children with disabilities had the same opportunity as students without disabilities (Woolfolk, 2010).

The law has seen many revisions throughout the years. The most recent amendments to IDEA were passed by Congress in December 2004. The final regulations were published in August 2006 and termed the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act of 2004 (IDEIA 2004) (Public Law No. 108-446). IDEIA 2004 guides how states and school districts identify and provide special education and related services to children with disabilities (http://www.nichcy.org/idea.htm). IDEIA 2004 specifically addresses where students with disabilities should be educated and also requires schools to provide a free and appropriate education (FAPE) for all students (Woolfolk, 2010).

Although the law does not specifically use the terminology inclusion, it does use the term least restrictive environment (LRE) when speaking of placement for students with disabilities (Inzano, 1999). The law regarding placing students within the LRE has generated many questions as to exactly what constitutes an LRE.

According to the law, in an LRE, the student is to be placed with non-disabled peers as much as appropriate throughout the school day (IDEIA, 2004). In addition, the student can only be separated from nondisabled peers if the nature or severity of their disability impedes upon their education (IDEIA, 2004; http://www.findcounseling.com/journal/sped/least.html). Based upon this law, there appears to be a push to teach children with disabilities within the regular education classrooms (Villa, Thousand, Nevin, & Liston, 2005 & Liston, 2005). As a result of this, there will be a paradigm shift moving away from segregation to integration where students with and without disabilities will be taught together (Giddens, 2001).

Inclusive education is identified by the integration of all students, including those with disabilities, into the general education classroom (Avramidis & Norwich 2002; Woolfolk, 2010). Inclusion is often confused with the notion of mainstreaming. Schnorr (1990) indicated that mainstreaming and inclusion each deal with students with disabilities in the regular classrooms, the responsibilities of the general education teacher is different for both. In mainstreaming, the regular class teacher is responsible for some of the instruction of the student with exceptionalities while the special education teacher is primarily responsible for the student’s instruction (Lipsky & Gartner, 1989).

This is quite different than inclusion. Through inclusion, the regular class teacher is responsible for nearly all of the instruction of the student with special needs. The special education teacher serves as a support to the regular education teacher (Salisbury et al., 1995). For the purposes of this study, inclusion will be defined as full term placement in mainstream general education classes with appropriate special education support services.

By studying disability categories under a broad umbrella, it is difficult to differentiate attitudes towards inclusion of specific disability categories. Inclusion of students based on specific disability categories is limited and has not been fully analyzed in current research studies. Research has largely focused on teacher attitudes towards inclusion of students with learning disabilities (Avramidis, Bayliss, et al 2000; Bender, Vail, et al, 1995; Bradshaw & Mundia 2006; Buell, Hallam, et al 1999; Burke & Sutherland 2004; Campbell, Gilmore et al 2003; Clough & Lindsay 1991; Elhoweris & Alsheikh 2006; Hammond & Ingalls 2003; Jobe, Rust, et al. 1996; Kadell & Wiebe 2001; Kalyva, Gojkovic, et al 2007; Kwapy 2004; Reasons 2005; Romer 2004; Ross-Hill 2007; Sebesta 2002; Shade & Stewart 2001; Walpole 2006).

There have been some studies focusing on emotional and behavioral difficulties within the general education classrooms (Avramidis, Bayliss, & Burden 2000; Clough & Lindsay 1991; Hastings & Oakford 2003; Soodak et al. 1998; Stoiber et al. 1998); cognitive impairments (Center & Ward 1987; Thomas 1985), and mild physical disabilities (Center & Ward 1987; Forlin 1995). The remaining special education categories have not been the focus of much research (Autism Spectrum Disorder, Blind or Low Vision; Deaf or Hard of hearing; Deaf-Blind; Developmentally Delayed; Language or Speech impairment; Multiple Disabilities; Other health impairment; Orthopedic impairment; and Traumatic brain injury). This study will investigate the attitudes of pre-service teachers toward inclusion of students with ASDs.

ASDs fall within the Pervasive Developmental Disorders based upon the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders – Fourth Edition (DSM-IV, p. 14; 2005). The terms ASDs and Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) are often used synonymously (Pieranagelo & Giuliani, 2007). Pervasive Developmental Disorder is a general term that refers to a spectrum of disorders that differ with respect to the number and type of symptoms or age of onset (DSM-IV, pg. 69). Pervasive Developmental Disorders include Autistic Disorder, Rett’s Disorder, Childhood Disintegrative Disorder, Asperger’s Disorder, and Pervasive Developmental Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (DSM-IV, p. 14; 2005). ASDs are typically defined as developmental disorders in which behavior characteristics range in syndrome expression and the symptoms change as the child develops on a continuum from mild to severe (Volkmar, Paul, Klin, & Cohen, 2005). “They are typically characterized by severe and pervasive impairment in several areas of development that include reciprocal and social interaction skills, communication skills, or the presence of stereotyped behavior, interests, and activities”(DSM-IV, pg 69; 2005).

Four million children are born in the United States every year and of these four million children; 560,000 individuals between the ages of 0-21 have an ASD (http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/autism/faq_prevalence.htm). Based on prevalence statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) from 2007, one out of every 150 children in the United States has autism (http://www.autism-society.org/site/PageServer?pagename=about_whatis_factsstats). Due to the increase in diagnosis of ASDs, more children are in need of specialized education programs. In 2006, the CDC reported 484,299 individuals between the ages 3 through 21 received services under the ‘autism’ classification for special education services (https://www.ideadata.org/tables30th/ar_1-3.htm).

Additional data from the CDC reported the state of Indiana serviced 159,679 students under IDEA in 2006 between the ages of 6 and 21. Of these students, 7,391 were identified as having an ASD (https://www.ideadata.org/tables30th/ar_1-3.htm). Illinois reported serving 289,611 students under IDEA in 2006 between the ages of 6 and 21. Of these students, 9,398 students were identified as having an ASD (https://www.ideadata.org/tables30th/ar_1-3.htm). Michigan reported serving 217,673 under IDEA in 2006 between the ages of 6 and 21. Of these students, 9,723 were identified as having an ASD (https://www.ideadata.org/tables30th/ar_1-3.htm).

The needs of students with ASDs vary and should be identified and addressed within their educational programming. As stated earlier, ASDs are a group of developmental disabilities that are defined by significant impairments in social interaction, communication, and unusual behaviors (DSM-IV, pg. 69). This is of particular concern when looking at the best learning environment for students with ASDs. Researchers and educators agree that children with ASDs benefit from early intervention services (National Research Council, 2001; Rapin, 1997; Rogers, 1996; Strain, Wolery & Izeman, 1998). It has been found to be beneficial to place students with ASDs in the general education classroom so they have early interventions as well as appropriate role models of social skills (Klinger & Dawson, 2005).

At the same time, this presents a problem because students with ASDs are often not accepted into the general education class. Rejection increases with the students’ age and severity of their symptoms which increases their tendency to become socially isolated (Burack, Root, & Zigler, 1997 as cited in Volkmar, Paul, Klin, Cohen, 2005). Parents, teachers, and students need to work together to determine which educational services are needed and specifically, to afford them with the greatest possibilities for future transitions (Bock & Myles, 1999; Crowley, 2000; Bowe, 2005 as cited in Volkmar, Paul, Klin, Cohen, 2005). Educational placement options for students with ASDs need to be a place where they receive the most benefit as well as keeping in accordance with the law requiring LRE.

The increase of students with special needs within general education classrooms has spurred changes in attitudes of teachers, parents, and students regarding the appropriate placement for students with disabilities to receive an education. Research has shown that teacher attitudes towards inclusion have a significant impact upon whether or not inclusion is a success or failure within the classroom (Avramidis & Norwich 2002; Bacon & Schultz 1991; Barton, 1992; Barton & Wiczenski 1993; Bishop, 1986; Carroll, Forlin, & Jobling 2003; Chow & Winzer, 1992; Coates, 1989; Cook, 2001; Cook, Semmel, & Gerber 1999; Good & Brophy 1997; Hannah & Pliner, 1983; Hayes & Gunn, 1988; Idol, Nevin & Paolucci-Whitcomb 1994; Roa & Lim, 1999; Salend 2001; Schumm et al. 1994; Semmel, Abernathy, Butera, & Lesar, 1991; Shade & Stewart, 2000; Wiczenski, 1993; Van Reusen, Shoho, & Barker 2001; William & Algozine, 1977; Wood, 1989). Attitude research pertaining to inclusion of students with disabilities has provided widely varied results (Bennett et al, 1997; Garriott, Miller, & Snyder, 2003; Leyser & Tappendorf, 2001; Rea et al. 2002; Shier, 2002).

Professional groups vary considerably in their perceptions of which children are most likely to be successful with the inclusion process (Bochner & Pieterse 1989). There are educators who support the inclusion of students with disabilities and indicate it has positive benefits for students (Avramidis et al, 2000; Chalmers, 1991; Frederickson, Dunsmuir, Lang & Monsen 2004; Leyser & Tappendorf 2001; Rodgers, 1987; Rojewski & Pollard, 1993; Ward et al, 1994; Villa et al, 1996; York, Vandercook, MacDonald, Heise-Neff & Caughey, 1992).

If teachers’ attitudes toward inclusion are positive, then the experience of their students will also be positive (Anderson, Chitwood, & Hayden 1997; Alexander & Strain, 1978). Conversely, many educators are not as accepting of inclusion and hold negative attitudes towards inclusion (Alghazo, Dodeen, & Algaryouti, 2003; Berryman, 1989; Bradshaw, 2004; Buell, Hallam, & Gamel-McCormick, 1999; Center & Ward, 1987; Coates, 1989; D’Alonzo, Giordano & Cross, 1996; D’Alonzo & Ledon 1992; Dixon, 1999; Forlin, Douglas, & Hattie, 1996; Gersten, Walker & Darch, 1988; Hammond & Ingalls 2003; Hayes & Gunn, 1988; Horne & Ricciardo, 1988; Jamieson, 1984; Jobe, Rust, & Brissie, 1996; Larrivee & Cook, 1979; Leyser & Tappendorf, 2001; Luseno, 2000; Minke et al, 1996; Murphy, 1996; Reiter et al, 1998; Schumm & Vaughn 1991; Semmel et al, 1991; Thomas, 1985; Vaughn, Schumm, Jallad, Slusher & Saumell, 1996). If the teachers’ attitudes towards inclusion are negative, then the experience of their students will be unsuccessful (Anderson, Chitwood, & Hayden 1997; Alexander & Strain, 1978). Forlin et al (1999) indicated that teachers’ attitudes towards individuals with disabilities suggest that negative attitudes lead to lower expectations of that student.

Research has also shown teachers attitudes toward inclusion were strongly influenced by the nature of the student’s disabilities (Avramidis, Bayliss, & Burden, 2000; Bradshaw and Mundia 2006; Center & Ward, 1987; Dean, Elrod & Blackbourn, 1999; Jobe, Rust & Brissie, 1996; Mak, 2003; Scruggs & Mastropieri, 1996; Soodak, Podell, & Lehman, 1998). Several studies have shown that specific disability areas negatively affected teacher attitudes towards inclusion. Thomas (1985) studied teachers in England and found they opposed integration of students with intellectual difficulties. This opposition has been replicated in several subsequent studies (Avramidis, Bayliss, & Burden, 2000; Center & Ward, 1987; Clough and Lindsay, 1991; Forlin, 1995; Hayes & Gunn, 1988; Kwapy, 2004; Soodak et al., 1998; Stoiber et al., 1998). Research also shows that teachers had difficulty with children who had emotional and behavioral difficulties (Avramidis et al, 2000; Bowman, 1986; Clough & Lindsay, 1991; Forlin, 1995; Hastings & Oakford, 2003; Hayes & Gunn, 1988; Heflin & Bullock, 1999; Kwapy, 2004; Soodak et al., 1998; Stoiber et al, 1998).

Center and Ward (1987) found that teachers within their research study were reluctant to include students with more severe physical disabilities or students with intellectual disabilities; however, they were willing to accept the inclusion of students with mild physical disabilities. As a result of the mixed results of research on inclusion, it is important to identify attitudes towards inclusion of students, specifically with ASDs, within the general education classroom.

To date, there has been a lack of research on ASDs and teacher attitudes towards inclusion. With the movement within the educational system to integrate all students with disabilities into regular education classrooms, it is going to be important to evaluate teacher attitudes toward inclusion of students with ASDs as the prevalence rate for this specific disability is on the rise.

Multiple factors have been found to affect teachers’ attitudes (Salend & Duhaney, 1999). These factors primarily relate to the child, teacher, and school. Several factors seem to consistently arise in research regarding attitudes towards inclusion of students with disabilities and include teacher efficacy, the type of disability, and the individual’s teacher preparation program. These areas will be the focus of this research study.

Teacher efficacy has been a focus in many research studies (Allinder, 1994; Allinder, 1995; Ashton, 1984; Ashton & Webb, 1986; Brownell & Pajares, 1999; Gibson & Dembo, 1984; Pajares, 1992; Soodak, Podell & Lehman, 1998). Teacher efficacy is a teacher’s individual beliefs in their capabilities to reach all of their students, regardless of disability and teach all types of students (Armor et al., 1976; Ashton, 1984; Ashton & Webb; 1986; Berman & McLaughlin, 1977; Coladarci & Breton, 1997; Gibson & Dembo, 1984; Tschannen-Moran, Woolfolk-Hoy, & Hoy, 1998; Woolfolk, 2010). Many studies have noted that a teacher’s sense of efficacy can have a direct positive affect on student achievement (Anderson, Greene, & Loewen, 1988; Ashton, 1984; Midgley, Feldlaufer, & Eccles, 1989; Woolfolk, 2010) and is a principal factor impacting classroom effectiveness (Allinder, 1993; Ashton & Webb, 1986; Brownell & Pajares, 1999; Gibson & Dembo, 1984; Pajares, 1992).

There has been limited research as to the effect teacher efficacy has upon the students with ASDs. Research on general disability areas has shown that as a teacher’s personal efficacy increases, they become less anxious about including students with disabilities into their classrooms (Allinder, 1994; Soodak, Podell & Lehman, 1998). Other research studies have found that teachers often lack confidence in their instructional skills when dealing with a student with a disability (Buell, Hallam, & Gamel-McCormick, 1999; Center & Ward 1987) thus decreasing their self efficacy.

By identifying links between teacher efficacy and teacher attitudes towards inclusion of students with ASDs; more information can be provided to teachers to help them feel confident as well as successful in teaching students with ASDs within their classrooms.

Another factor affecting teacher attitudes towards inclusion stems from their teacher preparation programs. Much of the current research on inclusion of students with disabilities has shown that general educators often feel confused when asked to make accommodations for students with disabilities within their classes (Lombard et al., 1998). Educators have indicated that they feel unprepared to implement inclusion as a result of a lack of preparation in education programs (Avramidis, Bayliss & Burden, 2000; Bender & Ukeje, 1989; Bender, Vail, & Scott 1995; Betancourt-Smith 1994; Bruneau-Balderrama, 1997; Buell et al, 1999; Center & Ward, 1987; Creal, 2000; Edelen-Smith, Prater, & Sileo 1993; Evans, Townsend, Duchnowski, & Hocutt, 1996; Ferguson, 1995; Forlin et al. 1999; Garfinkle & Schwartz, 2002; Glass 1996; Grbich & Sykes, 1992; Hammond & Ingalls, 2003; Hastings, Hewes, Lock & Witting, 1996; Johnston, Proctor, & Corey 1994; King-Sears & Cummings, 1996; Kwapy, 2004; Lanier & Lanier 1996; Mastropieri & Scruggs, 2000; Minke, Bear, Deemer & Griffin, 1996; Nevin, Cohen, Salazar & Marshall, 2007; Olson, 2003; O’Shea & O’Shea, 1997; Pugach & Seidl, 1995; Reber, Marshak, & Glor-Scheib, 1995; Reed & Monda-Amaya, 1995; Reitz & Kerr, 1991; Salend, 2001; Schumm et al. 1994; Schumm & Vaughn, 1992; Schuum & Vaughn, 1995; Scruggs & Mastropieri, 1996; Shanker, 1994; Sindelar, 1995; Singh, 2001; Slusher & Saumell 1996; Snyder, 1990; Soodak, Podell & Lehman, 1998; Swoboda, 2000; Tait & Purdie 2000; Taylor, Richards, Goldstein, & Schilit 1997; Vaughn, Schumm, Jallad, Wang, Reynolds, & Walberg, 1994; Vaughn, Schumm, Jallad, Slusher, & Saumell, 1996; Wang, Reynolds & Walberg, 1994; Wanzenried, 1998).

Currently, many educators remain insufficiently informed about the practice and theory of inclusion as well as the effect it has on all students within the classroom. Part of teacher preparation programs includes instilling a sense of knowledge and experience of working with students with disabilities. Those with experience working with students with disabilities tend to have more positive attitudes toward inclusion (Beh-Pajooh, 1991; Forlin, Fogarty & Carroll, 1999; Gallagher 1985; Gregory, 1997; Hastings et al., 1996; Hastings & Graham, 1995; LeRoy & Simpson 1996; Pernell, McIntyre, & Bader 1985; Sack 1998; Rees, Spreen & Harnadek, 1991; Shoho, Katims, & Wilks 1997).

If teachers feel as though they are unprepared to accommodate students with disabilities; there needs to be a change in teacher preparation programs to ensure that all teachers feel confident and prepared to teach students with exceptionalities. By changing teacher education programs and adding more required coursework regarding students with exceptionalities, teachers should be better equipped to make accommodations and interventions for exceptional students.

It is important to account for preservice teachers’ attitudes and beliefs in order to rectify any ill conceived notions about inclusion of children with ASDs. By identifying attitudes towards inclusion of students with ASDs, the inclusion process can be improved. By identifying factors that lead to negative attitudes towards inclusion and dispelling any myths associated with inclusion of students with ASDs, these students may be better served within the general education classroom. In addition, the attitudes towards inclusion may pinpoint weaknesses within teacher preparation programs.

By identifying weaknesses, teacher education programs may be able to change or revise classes and curriculum to better meet the needs of future educators. Due to the increase in students identified with ASDs, laws mandating students be taught in the LRE, more general education teachers will have to make accommodations for students with ASDs within their classrooms. By identifying teacher attitudes towards inclusion of students with ASDs, teacher curriculum can be changed and in-services can be added to programming to improve teacher attitudes towards inclusion.

Statement of the Problem

This study will focus on self-efficacy of preservice teachers and their attitudes towards inclusion of students with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASDs). Current research shows a range of attitudes towards inclusion of students with disabilities. There is a lack of research regarding teacher attitudes towards the various disability categories; specifically ASDs. Inclusion of students based on specific disability categories, ASDs, has been limited. With the increase in diagnosis of children with ASDs; there will likely be an increase in the placement of students with ASDs into general education classrooms.

As a result, general education teachers will likely be responsible for teaching students with ASDs within their classrooms. By identifying attitudes towards inclusion of students with ASDs, the inclusion process can be improved. By identifying factors that lead to negative attitudes towards inclusion, such as teacher efficacy beliefs, and dispelling any myths associated with inclusion of students with ASDs, these students may be better served within the general education classroom. In addition, the attitudes towards inclusion may pinpoint weaknesses within teacher training programs. By identifying weaknesses, teacher education programs may be able to use this information to implement changes or revisions to classes and curriculum to better meet the needs of future educators.

Purpose of the Study

The primary purpose of this study is to investigate preservice teachers’ sense of efficacy and their attitudes towards inclusion of students with ASDs. Relationships between teacher attitudes towards inclusion, teacher efficacy, the type of student disability, teacher preparation programs, and demographic information will be explored. This study aims to identify preservice teacher attitudes toward inclusion of students with ASDs and their level of teacher efficacy.

Additionally, it will explore factors that influence attitudes of preservice teachers toward inclusion of students with ASDs. By understanding the factors that influence preservice teacher attitudes, teacher preparation programs can better prepare teachers for students with exceptionalities, particularly ASDs within the classrooms.

Research Questions

What are preservice teachers’ attitudes towards inclusion of students with ASDs within the general education classroom?

Secondary Questions:

What is the relationship between teacher efficacy and teacher attitudes towards inclusion of students with ASDs?

What factors are related to preservice teachers’ attitudes towards inclusion of students with ASDs?

What is the relationship between the amount of college preparation courses and teacher attitudes towards inclusion of students with ASDs?

Is there a relationship between having a special education background and attitudes towards inclusion of students with ASDs?

Is there a relationship between having a special education background and teacher efficacy?

Rationale

Inclusive education integrates all students, regardless of disability, into the general education classroom. Integration of students with disabilities requires teachers to make accommodations and modifications for students in order for them to be successful within the general education classroom. The teacher’s level of efficacy has been found to affect their willingness to make modifications and accommodations for students with disabilities and thus affect their attitudes toward inclusion.

This study will investigate preservice teachers’ sense of efficacy and its correlation with attitudes towards inclusion of students with ASDs. Current studies focus on the integration of students with disabilities without differentiating specific disability categories. This study will allow for differentiation of ASDs from the remaining disability categories. Findings from this study will be beneficial for teacher preparation programs.

Bandura (1986, 1994, 1997) suggested that predications about behavior outcomes affect the individual’s goals, effort, and motivation to complete a task. Predications of behavior are highly influenced by a person’s self-efficacy (Woolfolk, 2010). Self-efficacy has been defined as the belief in one’s capabilities to organize and execute the course of action required to manage prospective situations (Bandura, 1995). As a result, people are more likely to engage in behaviors that they believe they are capable of completing successfully. If a person believes they are able to complete an activity with success, they have high self-efficacy; conversely, if they do not feel they are able to complete certain behaviors successfully, they have low self-efficacy. Individuals tend to seek behaviors that they have success with and will put more effort and persistence to activities that they consider to be successful. Self-efficacy is also influenced by a person’s previous successes or failures with an activity, feedback from others regarding their performance, and success or failure of other people around them (Woolfolk, 2010).

For inclusion to be successful, teachers will need to observe a successful implementation of inclusion. In addition, they will have to feel confident in their own abilities to implement inclusion. This confidence will likely come from their teacher education training as well as role models indicating a successful implementation of inclusion. If a teacher does not believe he or she is able to implement inclusion within their classroom, the inclusion process is likely to fail.

This has implications for the students within their classrooms. Students without disabilities are likely to model the teacher’s negative attitude towards inclusion and imitate behavior; at the same time, if the teacher has a positive attitude toward inclusion, the children would imitate that behavior. The self-efficacy of the teacher and their resulting actions has a large impact for the successful inclusion of students with ASDs within the general education class.

Conceptual Framework

This study is rooted in the theories of Albert Bandura, a cognitive theorist. His theories on social learning, social cognition, and self-efficacy have an influence this study. Bandura’s social cognitive theory and his construct of self efficacy (Bandura 1977) help explain how teacher’s attitudes towards inclusion would potentially have an effect upon the students within their classrooms.

Bandura’s (1977) theory of self-efficacy is closely tied with teacher sense of efficacy. Teacher sense of efficacy is the belief that a teacher can reach all of his or her students, regardless of disability and teach all types of students (Woolfolk, 2010). Teacher sense of efficacy has a major impact upon the students within a teacher’s classroom. A high sense of teacher efficacy would indicate a teacher believes that he or she is capable to teach their students. Teachers with a high sense of teacher efficacy believe they can teach all of their students, regardless of disability (Woolfolk, 2010).

Significance of the Study

Due to revisions of federal regulations regarding placement of special education students within the LRE, children with disabilities are spending a majority of their day in the general education classroom. This study is an investigation of preservice teachers’ sense of efficacy and attitudes regarding inclusion of students with ASDs. It is valuable to determine attitudes of preservice teacher regarding the placement of students with ASDs due to research currently citing teacher attitudes strongly effect the success of students (Avramidis & Norwich, 2002; Bacon & Schultz, 1991; Chow & Winzer, 1992; Coates, 1989; Cook, Semmel, & Gerber, 1999; Good & Brophy, 1997; Hayes & Gunn; 1988; Idol, Nevin, & Paolucci-Whitcomb, 1994; Roa & Lim, 1999; Salend, 2001; Semmel, Abernathy, Butera, & Lesar, 1991; Shade & Stewart, 2000; Silberman, 1971; Van Reusen, Shoho, & Barker, 2001; William & Algozine, 1977).

Previously, students who needed modifications or adjustments within the classroom were separated from the non-disabled students and placed in special education classrooms. Changes in the law have provided a directive that all students must be educated in the LRE, part of the Education for All Handicapped Children Act (PL 94-142). This law states that individuals, regardless of the severity of their disabilities, are entitled to receive services from the public school systems at no cost to the parents (Public Law No. 94-142). With more students being placed in general education classrooms, it is important for future educators to have positive attitudes towards successful inclusion of students with ASDs.

The results of this study may help in the development of effective educational curriculum at universities and colleges with teacher education programs. Education programs need to be committed to producing highly qualified and prepared future educators. This means being prepared to teach and understand the unique needs required by students with ASDs within the classroom. Results from this study may help preservice teachers to gain insight into their attitudes towards inclusion and their efficacy beliefs.

Definitions and Terminology

Accommodation: “A change in testing materials or procedures that enables students to participate in assessments in ways that reflect their skills and abilities rather than their disabilities” (Salvia, Ysseldyke & Bolt, 2007, p. 682).

Americans with Disabilities Act (Coladarci & Breton): Public Law No. 10-325 (1 January 2009). “Prohibits discrimination against persons with disabilities in employment, transportation, public access, local government, and telecommunications” (Woolfolk, 2010, p. 129).

Autism: “Developmental disability significantly affecting verbal and nonverbal communication and social interaction, generally evident before age 3 and ranging from mild to major” (Woolfolk, 2007, p. 613).

Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASDs): A group of five related developmental disorders that share common core deficits or difficulties in social relationships, communication, and ritualistic behaviors; differentiated from one another primarily by the age of onset and severity of various systems; includes autistic disorder, Asperger syndrome, Rett syndrome, childhood disintegrative disorder, and pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS) (Heward, 2006).

Efficacy: A person’s belief that he or she is capable of achieving a goal. Because they believe they are capable, they then modify their behavior in order to be successful in achieving their goal (Bandura, 1977).

Exceptional Students: “Students who have abilities or problems so significant that they require special education or other services to reach their potential” (Woolfolk, 2007, p. 616).

Free and Appropriate Public Education (FAPE): “All children, regardless of the severity of their disability, must be provided an education appropriate to their unique needs at no cost to the parent(s)/guardian(s). Included in this principle is the concept of related services, which requires that children receive, for example, occupational therapy as well as other services as necessary in order to benefit from special education” (Gargiulo, 2006, pg 50)

Full Inclusion: This term describes a general education classroom setting in which both students with and without disabilities receive instruction. Students remain in this classroom for the entire school day and are not pulled out to a special education setting to receive academic instruction.

IDEIA: Public Law No. 108-446 (3 December 2004). The Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEIA) is a law ensuring services to children with disabilities throughout the nation. “The latest amendment of PL 94-142, guarantees a free public education to all children regardless of disability” (Woolfolk, 2010, p. 124).

Inclusion: In this study, inclusion refers to a process whereby individuals with disabilities receive instruction in regular education classrooms along with their nondisabled peers. The students with autism may have paraprofessionals and supports within the general education classroom. Inclusion defined is “the integration of all students, including those with severe disabilities, into regular classes” (Woolfolk, 2010, p. 557).

Inclusive Classroom: In this study, inclusive classrooms are where students who have IEPs receive instruction from regular education teachers within the general education classroom. “It is an educational setting that involves membership in general education classrooms with chronological age appropriate classmates, having individualized and relevant learning objectives, and being provided with the support necessary to learn” (Inzanno, 1999).

Individualized Education Program (IEP): “Annually revised program for an exceptional student, detailing present achievement level, goals, and strategies, drawn up by teachers, parents, specialists, and (if possible), the student” (Woolfolk, 2007, p. 617).

Least Restrictive Environment (LRE): The regular education classroom, along with nondisabled peers, in the school that they would attend if they were not disabled, unless alternative placement is necessary, and specified in an individualized education plan (IDEA, Sec. 300.550-300.552).

Mainstreaming: A term used to describe the selective placement of special education students in one or more "regular" education classes rather than segregated classrooms. “Teaching children with disabilities in regular classes for part or all of the school day” (Woolfolk, 2010).

Modifications: Are changes in the course materials or instruction that allow a student to learn at their own level (Parker, 2006).

No Child Left Behind (NCLB): Public Law No. 107-110 (8 January 2002). This is the most recent authorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). “Requires that all students in grades 3 through 8 take standardized achievement tests in reading and mathematics every year; in addition, one more exam will be required in high school” (Woolfolk, 2010, p. 519).

Placement: “The setting in which a child with disabilities is educated. Placement includes the school, the classroom, related services, community based services, and the amount of time a student will spend with peers who do not have disabilities” (Calvin & Luker, 2003).

Self-Contained Classroom: Is a classroom where a special education teacher teaches special education students.

Special Education: Individually planned, specialized, intensive, outcome-directed instruction. When practiced most effectively and ethically, special education is also characterized by the systematic use of research-based instructional methods, the application of which is guided by frequent measures of student performance (Heward, 2006).

Teacher’s attitudes towards inclusion: A teacher’s thoughts or feelings towards working with students who have disabilities within the regular education classroom (Wood, 2007).

Teachers’ sense of Efficacy: “A teacher’s belief that he or she can reach even the most difficult students and help them learn” (Woolfolk, 2010, p. 541).

General Methodology

This quantitative study will focus on the relationship between teacher efficacy and teacher attitudes towards inclusion of students with ASDs. This study will focus on quantitative designs. Correlations will be used to measure the linear relationships between variables. Multiple regressions will be used to determine whether attitudes towards inclusion can be predicted from self efficacy, teacher preparation programs, type of disability, and special education background versus general education background. A predictive model will be developed for the data and will be used to predict the values of the dependent variable (teacher attitudes towards inclusion of students with ASDs) from the independent variables (teacher efficacy, teacher preparation programs, and special education backgrounds).

Limitations

This study will take place at various University settings across the states of Indiana, Illinois, and Michigan. A limitation of this study will be the narrow Midwestern population. As a result, it might be difficult to generalize these results to other areas of the country. Also, the demographics make-up of the pre-service teachers might be different than other areas of the nation limiting generalization of the results. Another limitation will be that the data might be biased due to the use of self-reports within the study. Participants may rate themselves more favorably causing the data to be skewed.

Participants in the research survey will include elementary and secondary education majors and minors at several universities across Indiana, Illinois, and Michigan. This may have limited the ability to generalize results to teachers working in other states. Another limitation will be the preservice teachers’ course of study; elementary education major’s may receive more support than secondary elementary majors. In addition, the surveys used within this research study will be revised from their original version. These revisions may have an effect on the reliabilities and validities of the original surveys and may be different from published data.

Assumptions

It is assumed that a significant number of teacher candidates within the education departments of the universities contacted will volunteer to be part of this study which will enable a significant sample group.

Individuals will respond honestly and accurately to the questionnaire.

Respondents are representative of teacher preparation programs.

It is assumed that the teachers would receive the questionnaire and that they were the person who actually completed the questionnaire.

It is assumed that the instruments will adequately measure the variables of interest.

It is assumed that the reliability and validity of the survey scales used within the study will be retained despite revisions.

Summary

This quantitative study will focus on the relationship between efficacy of preservice teachers and attitudes towards inclusion of students with ASDs. In addition, several variables will be explored to identify their impact upon the inclusion of students with ASDs. These variables include the type of teacher preparation program the preservice teacher experienced (Buell, Hallam, & Gamel-McCormick, 1999; Carroll, Forlin, & Jobling, 2003; Freytag, 2001; Reasons, 2005; Reber, 1995; Reitz & Kerr, 1991), how many courses the preservice teacher had pertaining to inclusion of students with disabilities, and whether they had special education background or experience working with students with disabilities (Sack, 1998; Scruggs & Mastropieri, 1996; Shoho & Barker, 2000; Taylor, et al., 1997).

Teacher efficacy will focus on how preservice teachers felt about inclusion of students with ASDs within their general education classrooms. The research question will examine whether there is a relationship between teacher efficacy and preservice teachers’ attitudes towards inclusion.

Organization of the Study

The next section, Chapter 2, will review the relevant literature to this study. The literature review will cover a brief history of special education and special education law; a brief history of ASDs; teacher attitudes towards inclusion of students with disabilities; and self-efficacy as developed by Bandura and how it relates to teacher efficacy. This is followed by Chapter 3, which includes descriptions of the research design, participants of the study, instruments selected, procedures, hypotheses, data collection, and data analysis. Chapter 4 will review the research results and Chapter 5 will provide a summary, conclusions and recommendations of this study.

Chapter 2: Review of Literature

History of Disabilities and Special Education

Historically, society has segregated and mistreated children with special needs. Individuals with disabilities have typically been looked upon as being different from the rest of society. Many cultures, customs, and laws encouraged the segregation of individuals with disabilities from society. Segregation goes as far back as Plato and Aristotle who agreed that it was important to purify the human race (Despart, 1965; Garland, 1995). The Greeks and Romans had similar fears of individuals with disabilities. They believed that children who were born deformed or who had developmental problems were sent by the gods to punish the parents (Garland, 1995).

Some ancient cultures believed in killing their young children if they were born with disabilities (Shapiro, 1999). Research by Dunn (1968) found that segregation was typically used to “dispose” of children who were not from socially acceptable backgrounds. Segregation even went so far as to use sterilization procedures beginning in the 19th century to end procreation of individuals with disabilities (Shapiro, 1995). Compulsory sterilization programs were implemented by the government in a forced attempt to surgically sterilize individuals deemed to be carriers of defective genetic traits (Laughlin, 1922). The United States was the first country to complete compulsory sterilization programs for the purpose of eugenics (http://www.experiencefestival.com/a/Compulsory_sterilization_-_United_States_of_America/id/1249753).

Eugenics is a scientific field involving the controlled breeding of humans in order to achieve desirable traits in future generations (Laughlin, 1922). During the eugenics movement, many individuals with disabilities were sterilized against their will and many times without their knowledge; often while they were in the hospital for other reasons (Probert, 2002). Much sterilization took place in prisons and mental institutions (Laughlin, 1922). Some states passed laws requiring sterilization of individuals with disabilities who were residents of state institutions (Burgdorf & Burgdorf, 1977). Indiana was the first state to enact sterilization legislation, this was in 1907 (Probert, 2002). By the year 1934, nearly 3000 individuals had undergone compulsory sterilization.

Sterilization rates across the country were relatively low until the 1927 Supreme Court case Buck v. Bell. This court case legitimized forced sterilization of mentally handicapped patients at an institution in Virginia (Buck v. Bell, 274 U.S. 200 (1927). Sterilizations increased until Skinner v. Oklahoma, a Supreme Court case, ruled against punitive sterilization in 1942 (Skinner v. Oklahoma, 316 U.S. 535 (1942). Public opinion towards sterilization procedures became negative after World War II, and compulsory sterilizations decreased although continued in a few states until the early 1960s (Probert, 2002). Several states continued to have sterilization laws after this; however they were rarely used. In the end, over 64,000 individuals were sterilized under state compulsory sterilization programs in the United States (http://www.bambooweb.com/articles/c/o/Compulsory_sterilization.html).

Segregation was not confined to institutions alone; but spread to the education system. Until 1975, individuals with special needs were often excluded from the regular education classroom (Curtis, 2005). Many different types of students with special needs were served together in special education classrooms away from their normal developing peers. (http://www.wrightslaw.com/bks/lawbk/ch3.history.pdf). Many times children in the segregated classrooms were from cultural and racial minority groups. In 2004, six million children ages 6-21 were serviced under IDEA. Of these children, 14 percent were American Indians/Alaska Natives, 13 percent were Black, 9 percent White, 8 percent Hispanic, and 5 percent Asians/Pacific Islander (http://nces.ed.gov/pubs2007/minoritytrends/ind_2_8.asp).

Several federal educational laws were later implemented to help end the segregation of students with disabilities. The Elementary and Secondary Act (ESA) was passed in 1965 by the federal government to provide funding to school systems so they could help children who needed extra services and supports in order to benefit from the public school system (Sands, Koleski, & French 2000). The No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) of 2001 was the most recent authorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act or ESA which was initially passed in 1965 (Public Law No. 107-110). NCLB is based on four pillars. These pillars are based on “stronger accountability for results, more freedom for states and communities, proven education methods, and more choices for parents” (http://www.ed.gov/nclb/overview/intro/4pillars.html).

All states are working to close the achievement gap and make sure all students, regardless of disability, achieve academic proficiency. Schools that do not make progress must provide additional services to supplement the student in learning (Public Law No. 107-110). NCLB has given states more flexibility in how they spend federal money. The money can be used to fund teaching grants, technology, special reading programs, etc. (.http://www.ed.gov/nclb/overview/intro/4pillars.html). These laws have enabled students with disabilities, specifically ASDs, to participate in the general education classroom.

In 1975, the federal government passed the Education for All Handicapped Children Act (P.L. No. 94-142). This law required public schools to ensure that all children, “regardless of disability, be entitled to a free and appropriate public education from the age of three through their 22nd birthday (Sands et al., 2000). In 1975, Public Law No. 94-142 was passed which provided all students with a free and appropriate education (FAPE) and required schools to educate all students in the Least Restrictive Environment (LRE). Students with special needs were not to be placed in ‘special education classes’ all day; rather, they were to be educated with their non-disabled peers as much as possible. This is further explained by Public Law 94-142, which states:

To the maximum extent appropriate, children with disabilitiesare to be educated with children who are nondisabled; and that special classes, separate schooling, or other removal of children from the regular educational environment occurs only if the nature or severity of the disability is such that the education in regular classes with the use of supplemental aids and services cannot be achieved satisfactorily (34 C.F.R. 300.550).

This law sparked the trend of inclusion of students with disabilities into general education classes. Unfortunately, many educators have less than positive attitudes about inclusion of students with disabilities (Alghazo, Dodeen, & Algaryouti, 2003; Berryman, 1989; Bradshaw, 2004; Buell, Hallam, & Gamel-McCormick, 1999; Center & Ward, 1987; Coates, 1989; D’Alonzo, Giordano & Cross, 1996; D’Alonzo & Ledon 1992; Dixon, 1999; Forlin, Douglas, & Hattie, 1996; Gersten, Walker & Darch, 1988; Hammond & Ingalls 2003; Hayes & Gunn, 1988; Horne & Ricciardo, 1988; Jamieson, 1984; Jobb, Rust, & Brissie, 1996; Larrivee & Cook, 1979; Leyser & Tappendorf, 2001; Luseno, 2000; Minke et al, 1996; Murphy, 1996; Reiter et al, 1998; Schumm & Vaughn 1991; Semmel et al, 1991; Thomas, 1985; Vaughn, Schumm, Jallad, Slusher & Saumell, 1996).

P.L. 94-142 has been reauthorized several times since 1975. In 1986, the law was revised to extend the ages of services through the public school system through the individual’s 22nd birthday (Public Law 94-142). In, 1990, the law went through an additional revision and was renamed to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). During this revision, legislators added into law that transition planning was required for individuals into their adult life (Public Law 94-142). In 1997, IDEA was reauthorized as IDEA 97.

This law authorized spending on personnel preparation programs at the higher-education level, authorized expenditures to school districts to help provide the range of services that students with disabilities required (Sands et al., 2000). The most recent revision of the law occurred in 2004 and was titled The Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEIA; 2004). This revision also encouraged the inclusion of exceptional learners into the classroom. IDEIA 2004’s (2004) major goal is to ensure that every child who is identified as having special needs is guaranteed a free appropriate education.

History of Autism Spectrum Disorders

ASDs fall under the Pervasive Developmental Disorders based upon the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders – Fourth Edition (DSM-IV, p. 14, 2005). Pervasive Developmental Disorder is a term that defines the spectrum of disorders which differ with symptoms, severity, and onset (DSM-IV, p. 69, 2005). Pervasive Developmental Disorders include: Autism, Asperger’s Disorder, Rett’s Disorder, Childhood Disintegrative Disorder, and Pervasive Developmental Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (DSM-IV, p. 14, 2005).

ASDs are defined as developmental disorders in which behavior characteristics vary in syndrome expression and severity and range on a continuum from mild to severe (Volkmar, Rhea, Klin, Cohen, 2005). ASDs are typically characterized by severe and pervasive impairment in several areas of development that include reciprocal and social interaction skills, communication skills, or the presence of stereotyped behavior, interests, and activities (DSM-IV, p. 69, 2005). There are several speculations as to the etiology, treatment, and interventions for autism.

Diagnosing autism can be difficult because not all individuals show every symptom of autism and their symptoms are not manifested in the same manner. Autism has been hypothesized to be a result of poor mothering, biological factors, reactions to immunizations, and genetic predispositions. There are just as many theories pertaining to the treatment and therapy of autism.

The word ‘autism’ and ‘autistic’ are derived from the Greek word ‘autos,’ which means self, and was coined in 1911 by a psychiatrist, Eugen Bleuler (Sicile-Kira, 2004). He used the terms to describe an aspect of childhood schizophrenia where individuals withdraw totally from the outside world into themselves (Sicile-Kira, 2004). Autism was distinguished as a separate entity from schizophrenia in 1971; however, the relationship with schizophrenia is far from being resolved (Sicile-Kira, 2004).

Autism has a unique history with Leo Kanner and Hans Asperger leading the field with its discovery. They began their work in the early 1940s and were the first researchers within the autism field (Sicile-Kira, 2004). Kanner was an Austrian psychiatrist who introduced the term ‘early infantile autism’ for a type of disorder that was unrecognized as a clinical entity. Hans Asperger was an Austrian pediatrician who studied ‘autistic psychopathology’, which was later termed autism.

They each simultaneously identified a set of similar characteristics of autistic children, independently of one another, and described exactly the same type of disturbed child (Frith, 1997). Up until their research, no one paid much attention to this subgroup of individuals. Kanner identified autism as a distinct neurological condition, while Hans Asperger was convinced that the syndrome was genetically transmitted (Frith, 1997). Kanner published his original paper on autism in 1943 and it became extremely well known while Asperger published his doctoral thesis using the word ‘autistic’ to describe the group of boys within his study in 1944.

His paper was strangely ignored while Kanner’s gained in popularity. It has only been within the past decade that interest has developed for Asperger’s paper (Frith, 1997). It later became a landmark in the developmental concept of autism and part of the classic literature of child psychiatry (Frith, 1997). There was a great deal of overlap between Asperger (1944) and Kanner’s (1943) views of autism. Each of them identified the prominent features used to identify individuals with autism. These features included: poor social interaction, failure of communication, stereotypical behaviors, isolated special interests, and resistance to change (Frith, 1997).

Bruno Bettelheim was a Hungarian psychotherapist in the mid to late 1940’s who studied autism. He developed theories as to the cause of autism and determined that it was a result of cold unfeeling parents. He believed autism was a mental illness rather than a biological disorder (Sicile-Kira, 2004). His theories were widely accepted for nearly two decades. Luckily, psychiatry’s perception of autism was changed with the work completed by Doctor Bernard Rimland. His son was diagnosed with autism and Dr. Rimland dedicated his studies to the disorder. His work lead to the insistence that autism is a biological disorder and not an emotional illness, as Bettelheim previously suggested (Sicile-Kira, 1997).

Bettelheim’s theory of poor parenting as the primary cause of autism was disproved. Dr. Rimland continued to research the causes and possible treatments for autism and founded the Autism Society of America and the Autism Research Institute in 1967 (Sicile-Kira, 1997).

Autism has drastically increased as a diagnosed disability within the population. Some researchers believe autism has been around for centuries; however, there was not an accurate method for diagnosing it until recently and it remained largely undiagnosed (Frith, 2003). Others believe environmental factors, better diagnosing criteria, or reactions to vaccinations may have contributed to the increase. Researchers have analyzed post-dictal studies and found evidence of autism. Victor, the Wild Boy of Aveyron, is an example of an individual who would have likely been diagnosed with autism (Frith, 2003).

Memoirs from his caretaker, Jean-Marc Gaspard Itard, indicated difficulties with judgment, imagination, and memory. He had difficulties with relating to other people and had an unusually sensitive perception of certain sounds. He was described as indifferent to many of the childhood activities that most other children enjoyed. He did not speak, answer questions, or respond to sounds made around him. He often chose to be alone, or to sleep instead of interacting with others. In many instances, individuals with autism may tolerate extremes of pain, hunger, and temperature without complaint (Frith, 2003).

This would account for his survival in the wild for such an extended period of time alone. Although Victor’s difficulties could be a result of being a child from the wilderness, the argument could be made that autism was at the core of his difficulties relating with others as well as his inability to make gains despite extensive interventions from Jean-Marc Gaspard Itard (Frith, 2003).

Diagnosing autism can be difficult because not all children show all of the symptoms of autism, nor do they express them in the same manner. In addition, various disciplines define autism differently (i.e. Psychiatric versus educational criteria). Due to the fact that autism is considered a spectrum disorder, it is often up to the diagnostician to determine the extent of the individual’s symptoms and to what degree they fall on the continuum or outside the normal range of development. Berney (2000) argued whether or not autism and Asperger’s Syndrome are really two separate disorders or simply the poles of a single continuum. Szatmari et al. (2000) suggested that the differences between Asperger’s syndrome and autism might be largely a matter of timing as it appears as though the two groups are on different, parallel courses.

Berney (2000) goes on to suggest that there is a high probability that children identified with autism at an early age may be more likely to be diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome once they develop language. There are also disagreements about the diagnosis between autism and Asperger’s Syndrome that arises when there is a failure to appreciate how the clinical picture may change with age. Between the ages of 5 and 6 years old, individuals gradually abandon the echolalia and learn spontaneously to use personal pronouns with adequate reference (Frith 2003). This picture changes from one of autism to that of Asperger’s syndrome.

Three reasons for the lack of agreement over the diagnosis of autism have been considered: use of different diagnostic criteria, subjectivity of the symptoms used as diagnostic criteria, and changes in the clinical picture with age (Frith, 2003). The behavioral manifestations can vary with age and ability, but the core features remain (Frith, 2003). It appears as though ASDs are a disorder that has no clear boundaries. Wing (1988) has argued that rather than thinking rigidly in terms of a discrete syndrome of autism, we should be aware that there is a continuum of autistic disorders (Bishop 1989).

Individuals with autism display qualitative impairments in reciprocal social interaction as well as with verbal and nonverbal communication. They also engage in patterns of repetitive, stereotypic activities (Szatmari, Bryson, Streiner, Wilson, Archer, & Ryerse 2000). Manifestations of the disorder vary greatly depending on the developmental level and chronological age of the individual (Gresham, Beebe-Frankenberger, MacMillan 1999).

There are no miracle cures for autism. No pills, shots, or other therapies can ‘cure’ autism because a cure to control and/or prevent autism does not exist (Koegel 2004). Although there is no cure for autism, research has shown that it can be effectively managed using comprehensive behavioral and educational treatment programs (Garfinkle & Schwartz, 2002; .

Prevalence of Autism

For decades, ASDs were believed to be rare. So rare, that prior to 2004 it was believed that 4 to 5 per 10,000 children were identified as having an ASD (http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/autism/faq_prevalence.htm). Further investigation by the Centers for Disease Centers for Prevention (CDC) and the American Academy of pediatrics (AAP) found in 2004 that prevalence rates for ASDs were between 2 and 6 per 1,000 children (http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/autism/faq_prevalence.htm; Bryson, Rogers, & Fombonne, 2003). It is evident that more and more children are being identified with an ASD. Currently, ASDs are the second most common serious developmental disability after mental handicaps and has become the fastest growing developmental disability effecting 1 to 1.5 million Americans (http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/autism/faq_prevalence.htm).

Based on prevalence statistics from the CDC from 2007and the Autism Society of America, one out of every 150 children in the United States is identified with an ASD (http://www.autism-society.org/site/PageServer?pagename=about_whatis_factsstats). Four million children are born in the United States every year. Of these four million children; 560,000 individuals between the ages of 0-21 have ASD. (http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/autism/faq_prevalence.htm). There has been in increase in the number of children with ASD being serviced in special education programs. “Between 1994 and 2006, the number of 6 to 17 year old children classified has having an ASD in public special education programs increased from 22,664 to 211,610 (http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/autism/faq_prevalence.htm). Based on CDC data from 2006, the state of Indiana serviced 179,043 students under IDEIA. Of these students, 8,189 students between the ages of 3 and 21 were serviced under IDEIA, specifically ASD (http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/autism/faq_prevalence.htm).

The Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring (ADDM) Network was put together by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to determine the prevalence of ASD in the United States (http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/autism/addm.htm). The goals of the ADDM Network are to provide a baseline for ASDs, to describe the population of children with ASDs, to compare ASD prevalence in different groups of children and different areas of the country, to identify changes in ASD prevalence over time, and to understand the impact of autism and related conditions in the United States (http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/autism/addm.htm). The ADDM Network evaluated six sites to determine the prevalence of ASDs for children who were 8 years old in 2000. An additional eight sites were used to determine ASDs for children who were 8 years old in 2002 (Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network Surveillance Year 2002 Principal Investigators).

ADDM’s (2002) research found the prevalence to be 6.7 per 1,000 8 year olds in 2000 and 6.6 per 1,000 8 year olds in 2002. That is about 1 in 150 children in those communities. Approximately 4.5 percent of 8 year old children in the United States were identified as having an ASD (Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network Surveillance Year 2002 Principal Investigators). The ADDM Network (2002) found that ASD prevalence was higher among boys than among girls, ranging from three to more than five boys for every girl with ASD (Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network Surveillance Year 2002 Principal Investigators). This ratio was also supported in numerous research studies (Bertrand, Mars, Boyle, Bore, Yeargin, Allsopp, Decoufle, 2001; Fombonne’s 2003; Lord, Schopler & Revicki, 1982; Volkmar, Szatmari & Sparrow, 1993). ASD prevalence among white non-Hispanic children ranged from 4.5 per 1,000 in West Virginia to 11.0 per 1,000 in New Jersey. For black non-Hispanic children, ASD prevalence ranged from 5.3 per 1,000 in Georgia to 10.6 per 1,000 in New Jersey (http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/dd/addmprevalence.htm).

It is important to note that the ADDM data does not represent a national sample and their prevalence estimates may not be generalized to every community within the United States. These rates may be higher or lower in certain areas (http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/autism/faq_prevalence.htm).

It is evident that ASDs are wide spread and effect many individuals. With the push towards inclusion due to laws such as IDEA and NCLB, many of the services that students with ASDs have will take place in the general education classroom. Previous research studies have focused specifically on teacher attitudes toward inclusion of students with learning disabilities. Very few studies have focused on other exceptionality categories; specifically ASDs. There has been little research that has been completed on other disability categories.

With an increase in the identification of students with ASDs, more students with ASDs will be included in general education classrooms. As a result, teachers will be servicing more students with ASDs in the general education classroom. Additional research needs to be completed on teacher attitudes towards inclusion of students with ASDs.

Given the impact of teacher attitude on student academic, social, and behavioral success, school personnel (general and special education administrators) must carefully consider teacher attitudes when placing students with ASDs in general education settings. The general education classroom is quickly becoming the a popular placement choice for many students with ASDs. This can often be overwhelming for teachers who are not trained or informed of the difficulties accompanied by students with ASDs (Friedlander, 2008).

Teacher Attitudes towards Inclusion

Research has shown teachers’ attitudes impact the educational outcomes of their students (Ashton & Webb, 1986; Avramidis & Norwich, 2002; Bacon & Schultz, 1991; Berman & McLaughlin, 1977; Coates, 1989; Gibson & Dembo, 1984; Good & Brophy, 1997; Greene, Anderson, & Loewen, 1988; Hoy & Woolfolk, 1993; Moore & Esselman, 1992; Ross, 1992; Semmel, Abernathy, Butera, & Lesar, 1991; Silberman, 1971; Soar & Soar, 1982). Thus, researchers have concluded that teachers’ attitudes towards inclusion are one of the most crucial variables in its success (Avramidis & Norwich 2002; Bacon & Schultz 1991; Barton, 1992; Barton & Wiczenski 1993; Bishop, 1986; Carroll, Forlin, & Jobling 2003; Chow & Winzer, 1992; Coates, 1989; Cook, 2001; Cook, Semmel, & Gerber 1999; Good & Brophy 1997; Hannah & Pliner, 1983; Hayes & Gunn, 1988; Idol, Nevin & Paolucci-Whitcomb 1994; Roa & Lim, 1999; Salend 2001; Schumm et al. 1994; Semmel, Abernathy, Butera, & Lesar, 1991; Shade & Stewart, 2000; Wiczenski, 1993; Van Reusen, Shoho, & Barker 2001; William & Algozine, 1977; Wood, 1989).

Teacher attitudes towards inclusion impact the educational outcomes of their students as well as determine the success or failure of inclusion programs; therefore; it is critical to study teachers’ attitudes towards inclusion of students with disabilities. Research shows that educators’ differ greatly in their attitudes towards inclusion of students with disabilities (Bennett et al, 1997; Garriott, Miller, & Snyder, 2003; Leyser & Tappendorf, 2001; Rea et al., 2002; Shier, 2002).

Several studies have cited findings of educators’ with positive attitudes towards inclusion of students with disabilities (Avramidis et al, 2000; Chalmers, 1991; Frederickson, Dunsmuir, Lang & Monsen 2004; Leyser & Tappendorf 2001; Rodgers, 1987; Rojewski & Pollard, 1993; Ward et al, 1994; Villa et al, 1996; York, Vandercook, MacDonald, Heise-Neff & Caughey, 1992). Advocates for inclusion indicate that inclusive education programs increase the student’s motivation to learn. Inclusion also exposes students to socially appropriate peer models which help them regulate their behavior (Davis, 1992). Davern and Schnorr (1991) stated that when 'regular' students are separated from students with special needs, they are being denied the opportunity of getting to know children of disabilities and view them as a part of the community.

Frederickson, Dunsmuir, Lang, and Monsen (2004) reported academic and social advantages as positive benefits of returning pupils with special educational needs from special to mainstream settings. Proponents say that once included in classrooms with higher expectations, appropriate role models, and true opportunities for generalization of skills, students with disabilities will experience improved outcomes (Walther-Thomas, Korinek, McLaughlin, & Williams 2000). There have been many positive changes in students as a result of inclusion.

This includes improved self-esteem, a sense of belonging, more social competence (Banerji & Dailey, 1995; Vaidya & Zaslavsky, 2000). Advocates for the inclusion movement believe mainstreaming students with disabilities helps develop critical social skills and provides positive role models for students with disabilities.

Historically, teachers have not been favorable towards the policy of inclusion of children with special needs within the regular classroom. Many research studies have shown that educators have less than positive attitudes towards including special education students in the regular education classroom (Alghazo, Dodeen, & Algaryouti, 2003; Berryman, 1989; Bradshaw, 2004; Buell, Hallam, & Gamel-McCormick 1999; Center & Ward, 1987; Coates, 1989; D’Alonzo, Giordano & Cross, 1996; D’Alonzo & Ledon 1992; Dixon, 1999; Forlin, Douglas, & Hattie, 1996; Gersten, Walker & Darch, 1988; Hammond & Ingalls 2003; Hayes & Gunn, 1988; Horne & Ricciardo, 1988; Jamieson, 1984; Jobe, Rust, & Brissie, 1996; Larrivee & Cook, 1979; Leyser & Tappendorf, 2001; Luseno, 2000; Minke et al, 1996; Murphy, 1996; Reiter et al, 1998; Schumm & Vaughn 1991; Semmel et al, 1991; Thomas, 1985; Vaughn, Schumm, Jallad, Slusher & Saumell, 1996).

This research is critical as teachers' non-supportive attitudes negatively influence the success of inclusion programs being implemented in the schools. Inclusionary practices may be defeated if general education teachers do not have positive attitudes toward these practices (Shade & Stewart, 2001). Negative attitudes towards inclusion could affect the amount of instructional time given to the disabled and nondisabled students, and thereby impede learning and achievement (Hines & Johnston, 1996; Marston, 1996). A teacher with a negative attitude towards inclusion of students with disabilities often does not result in a positive experience for the student (Kwapy, 2004). With more and more children being integrated into general education classrooms, it is essential for their successful inclusion that their teachers be willing to work with them (Marshall, Stojanovik, & Ralph, 2002).

Inclusion and mainstreaming practices have placed an increased responsibility on general education teachers for students with disabilities within their classrooms. The teacher is responsible for making the adaptations and modifications within the classroom that are often necessary for a student with a disability (Schallert, 2004). Additionally, other factors include availability of support services (Bender, Vial & Scott, 1995; Janney, 1995; LeRoy & Simpson, 1996; Tait & Purdie, 2000); overcrowded classrooms, lack of pre-prepared teaching materials, inflexible timetable; inadequate time for planning and meeting, and inadequate specialist support (Avramidis et al, 2000; Bradshaw, 2003; Vaughn et al., 1996) and teachers’ concerns about deficiencies in their own training and preparation in the skills required to support inclusive educational practice (Bender, Vial & Scott, 1995; Tait & Purdie, 2000).

In a review of the research, Stab and Peck (1994) found that teachers are concerned that inclusion will decrease the academic achievement of typical students, reduce teacher time with typical students, and cause typical students to emulate inappropriate behaviors to students with disabilities. However, Staub and Peck (1994) contend that research consistently demonstrates that academic achievement of typical students in inclusive settings does not decline, nor does inclusion affect time allocated to the students by the teachers. Further, typical students rarely model inappropriate behaviors of students with disabilities. Rather, students with disabilities are more likely to model the appropriate behaviors of the typical students (Garriott, Miller, & Snyder, 2003)

Many experts agree that full acceptance of students with disabilities will only occur after a change of attitudes occurs in teachers, administrators, and students (Beattie, Anderson, & Antonak, 1997). Given the impact of teacher attitude on student academic and social success, it is critical that the attitude of the teacher be considered when placing students with ASDs in general education settings (Simpson, Boer-Ott, Smith-Myles, 2003).

Factors Influencing Attitudes towards Inclusion

There are several factors that consistently arise in research that effect teacher attitudes towards inclusion of students with disabilities. The main factors that affect attitudes towards inclusion and focused within this study include: teachers’ sense of efficacy; type of disability, and university based teacher preparation programs.

Teacher Efficacy

Teacher efficacy is defined as a teacher’s individual belief in their capabilities to teach all of their students, regardless of disability (Armor et al., 1976; Berman & McLaughlin, 1977; Gibson & Dembo, 1984; Tschannen Moran, Woolfolk Hoy, & Hoy, 1998; Woolfolk, 2010). Teacher efficacy has been identified as a principal factor impacting classroom effectiveness (Allinder, 1993; Ashton & Webb, 1986; Brownell & Pajares, 1999; Gibson & Dembo, 1984; Pajares, 1992). Teacher efficacy is rooted in social learning theories by Rotter (1966) and Bandura (1977, 1986, and 1997) and has since served as the foundation for efficacy models and research.

Bandura, a cognitive theorist, studied changes in behavior of people. Bandura’s social learning theory has an influence on the current study. His theory was later renamed the social cognitive theory and helped explain how teacher efficacy and attitudes towards inclusion could potentially have an effect upon students with disabilities within general education classrooms (Bandura, 1977, 1986, and 1997). Bandura’s (1989, 1991) social cognitive theory encompasses attention, motivation, memory, and environmental factors. As a result, his theory includes both cognitive and behavioral frameworks.

Social cognitive theory is based on the notion that children learn though participation in various social interactions as well as through observing other’s behavior and takes place within a social context (Bandura, 1986, 1989, 1991). Bandura (1989) believed behaviors were acquired from observing other individuals, then imitating the observed behavior. Through observational learning, individuals first watch the behavior, organize and rehearse the modeled behavior, and then enact the behavior (Bandura, 1989). Individuals are more likely to model a behavior if it results in outcomes that they value and with which they identify (Tschannen-Moran, 2001). Unless people believe that they can produce desired effects by their actions, they have little incentive to act (Bandura, Barbaranelli, Caprara, & Pastorelli, 1996).

Bandura later expanded his social cognitive theory to the concept of self-efficacy (Bandura, 1997). Self-efficacy is a person’s belief that he or she has the capabilities to perform in a way that allows him or her to be successful at a task (Bandura, 1977). Efficacy beliefs are an active and learned system of beliefs and change according to the situation and the task (Bandura, 1997). People are more likely to engage in behaviors that they believe they are capable of completing successfully. If a person believes they are able to complete an activity with success, they have high self-efficacy; conversely, if they do not feel they are able to complete certain behaviors successfully, they have low self efficacy (Tschannen-Moran, 2001). Self efficacy is often influenced by a person’s previous successes or failures with an activity, feedback from others regarding their performance, and success or failure of other people around them (Tschannen-Moran, 2001).

The concept of teacher efficacy stems from self-efficacy and Bandura’s social cognitive theory (Bandura, 1986). For this research, self-efficacy in the classroom has been termed teacher efficacy. Teacher efficacy is the teacher’s belief that they can perform specific teaching tasks at a specified level and affect student performance of all their students (Armor et al., 1976; Ashton, 1984; Ashton & Webb; 1986; Berman & McLaughlin, 1977; Coladarci & Brenton, 1997; Gibson & Dembo, 1984; Tschannen Moran, Woolfolk-Hoy, & Hoy, 1998). Teacher efficacy research has been related to student achievement and educational outcomes (Armor et al., 1976; Ashton & Webb, 1986; Berman, et al., 1977; Coladarci & Brenton, 1997; Moore & Esselman, 1992; Ross, 1992) and has been identified as a variable that relates most consistently to teaching and learning (Woolfolk & Hoy, 1990).

Teacher efficacy has also been shown to influence teacher attitudes towards inclusion and foster academic achievement (Ashton et al, 1982; Ashton & Webb, 1986; Bender & Ukeje, 1989; Berman & McLaughlin, 1977; Gibson & Dembo, 1984; Greene, Anderson, & Loewen, 1988; Moore & Esselman, 1992; Hoy & Woolfolk, 1993; Ross, 1992; Soar & Soar, 1982; Tschannen- Moran, Woolfolk Hoy, & Hoy, 1998).

Teacher efficacy has a major impact upon the students within a teacher’s classroom. A high sense of teacher efficacy would indicate a teacher believes that he or she is capable to teach their students. A lack of efficacy is a factor that creates concern for general education teachers regarding serving students in inclusive settings (Buell, Hallam, & Gamel-McCormick, 1999). A low sense of teacher efficacy would indicate a teacher does not believe he or she is capable to teach their students. This is of critical importance when it comes to inclusion of students with disabilities. When teachers do not believe inclusion can work, they will not have incentive to implement it within their classrooms.

Positive teacher efficacy has been associated with academic achievement, student motivation and students’ own sense of efficacy in their abilities (Anderson, Greene, & Loewen, 1988; Ashton, 1984; Midglye, Feldlaufer, & Eccles, 1989; Woolfolk, 2010). Teachers with a greater sense of efficacy were less likely to refer students within their classrooms for special education services (Meijer & Foster, 1988; Soodak et al, 1998). High efficacy teachers can effectively meet the needs of exceptional learners in general education classrooms with or without the benefit of training or support in special education (Jordan, Stanovich, & Roach, 1997). Teachers with positive self-efficacy are better at implementing behavior management strategies (Emmer & Hickman 1991; Jordan, Kircaali-Iftar, & Diamond, 1993).

Teachers with high self-efficacy are able to challenge and motivate their students to learn more than teachers with a low self efficacy (Bandura, 1994). Findings by Bender, et al, (1995) suggest that teachers who are more supportive of inclusion have higher teaching efficacy (Bender & Ukeje, 1989).

Teachers with low self-efficacy have more difficulty working with exceptional students because they do not feel they can be successful (Deemer, 2004). Motivation and discouragement is partly determined by people’s beliefs that they can attain the goals they set for themselves. Those who harbor self-doubts about their capabilities are easily dissuaded by failure. Those who are assured of their capabilities intensify their efforts when they fail to achieve their goal and they persist until they succeed (Bandura, 1989).

Teacher efficacy was initially measured as a construct by researchers from the RAND Corporation in the mid 1970’s. The RAND Corporation developed a scale based on Rotter’s (1966) locus of control theory and attempted to measure teacher efficacy (Berman & McLaughlin, 1977; Armor et al, 1976; Tschannen-Moran, Woolfolk-Hoy & Hoy, 1998). Ashton and Webb (1982) also studied teacher efficacy using Bandura’s (1977) social learning theory and use it to study teacher efficacy.

They used a measure of efficacy expanding upon the RAND Corporation and addressed teaching efficacy and personal efficacy; two constructs of the scale (Berman & McLaughlin, 1977). Ashton and Webb’s (1982) research was furthered by Gibson and Dembo (1984) who developed a scale to measure the two dimensions of efficacy. Woolfolk and Hoy (1990) revised Gibson and Dembo’s scale to make it more appropriate for use by prospective teachers.

Students with ASDs are at risk for school failure simply due to the nature of their disability therefore teacher efficacy regarding inclusion is an area of importance. The efficacy level of the teacher will have a large impact for the successful inclusion of students with ASDs within the general education class. More information regarding the relationship between teacher efficacy and teacher attitudes towards inclusion is necessary so specific information and training can be provided to teachers so they will feel more confident and successful in teaching students with disabilities within their classroom (Wood, 2007).

Preparation of Pre-Service Teachers

Literature reviews indicated that attitudes of general education teachers are one of the most important predictors of successful integration of students with disabilities (Avramidis & Norwich 2002; Bacon & Schultz 1991; Barton, 1992; Barton & Wiczenski 1993; Bishop, 1986; Carroll, Forlin, & Jobling 2003; Chow & Winzer, 1992; Coates, 1989; Cook, 2001; Cook, Semmel, & Gerber 1999; Good & Brophy 1997; Hannah & Pliner, 1983; Hayes & Gunn, 1988; Idol, Nevin & Paolucci-Whitcomb 1994; Roa & Lim, 1999; Salend 2001; Schumm et al. 1994; Semmel, Abernathy, Butera, & Lesar, 1991; Shade & Stewart, 2000; Van Reusen, Shoho, & Barker 2001; Wiczenski, 1993; William & Algozzine, 1977; Wood, 1989). Pre-service programs should emphasize and concentrate on enhancing teachers attitudes towards inclusion because attitudes towards inclusion are essential in the success of educating students with disabilities in regular education classrooms (Fender & Feidler, 1990; Hoover, 1986; Kauffmann & Hallahan, 1981; Simpson, Whelen, & Sabel, 1993; Tait & Purdie, 2000; Turnbull & Schultz, 1979). Teacher preparation programs do have an influence on teacher attitudes within the classrooms (Bender, Vail & Scott, 1995; Wilczenski, 1991).

A movement to include more students with special needs within general education classes has caused some educators to question their ability to effectively serve students with various disabilities (Ivey, 2002; Bruskewitz, 1998). Shade and Stewart (2001) found that teachers surveyed believe students with special education needs should be educated in the regular education classroom; however, they did not feel that the teachers in the general education classrooms were prepared to supply their education.

Preservice teachers have voiced that they do not have the skills and are not prepared due to a lack of adequate teacher training to successfully teach students with disabilities (Avramidis, Bayliss & Burden, 2000; Bender & Ukeje, 1989; Bender, Vail, & Scott 1995; Betancourt-Smith 1994; Bruneau & Balderrama, 1997; Buell et al, 1999; Center & Ward, 1987; Creal, 2000; Edelen-Smith, Prater, & Sileo 1993; Evans, Townsnd, Duchnowski, & Hocutt, 1996; Ferguson, 1995; Forlin et al. 1999; Garfinkle & Schwartz, 2002; Glass 1996; Grbich & Sykes, 1992; Hammond & Ingalls, 2003; Hastings, Hewes, Lock & Witting, 1996; Johnston, Proctor, & Corey 1994; King-Sears, 1995; Kwapy, 2004; Lanier & Lanier 1996; Mastropieri & Scruggs, 2000; Minke, Bear, Deemer & Griffin, 1996; Nevin, Cohen, Salazar & Marshall, 2007; Olson, 2003; O’Shea & O’Shea, cited in Tapasak & Walther-Thomas, 1999; Pugach & Seidl, 1995; Reber, Marshak, & Glor-Scheib, 1995; Reed & Monda-Amaya, 1995; Reitz & Kerr, 1991; Salend, 2001; Schumm et al. 1994; Schumm & Vaughn, 1992; Schuum & Vaughn, 1995; Scruggs & Mastropieri, 1996; Shanker, 1994; Sindelar, 1995; Singh, 2001; Slusher & Saumell 1996; Snyder, 1990; Soodak, Podell & Lehman, 1998; Swoboda, 2000; Tait & Purdie 2000; Taylor, Richards, Goldstein, & Schilit 1997; Vaughn, Schumm, Jallad, Wang, Reynolds, & Walberg, 1994; Vaughn, Schumm, Jallad, Slusher, & Saumell, 1996; Wang, Reynolds & Walberg, 1994; Wanzenried, 1998).

There is a lack of teachers who are prepared to provide the quality inclusive educational services to students with disabilities (Evans, Townsend, Duchnowski & Hocutt, 1996; King-Sears, 1995; Pugach & Seidl, 1995; Sindelar, 1995). Specifically, the U.S. Department of Education (1999) reported that 78 percent of general education teachers who have students with disabilities in their classrooms feel unprepared to deal with their individual needs. A lack of personnel prepared to provide services to students with disabilities, particularly ASDs, act as a barrier to inclusion (Evans, Townsend, Duchnowski, & Hocutt, 1996; King-Sears, 1995; Pugach & Seidl, 1995; Sindelar, 1995). Often times general education teachers do not feel confident in their ability to fulfill tasks required for successful inclusion of students with disabilities (Buell, Hallam, & Gamel-McCormick, 1999). Teachers want to be taught accommodative strategies that they can use to meet the needs of students with disabilities (Betancourt-Smith, 1994).

Further research has found that regular education teachers did not feel able to accommodate students with special needs within their classroom (Campbell et al., 2003) and lacked confidence in their instructional skills (Center & Ward, 1987). Other research found that teachers did not believe they had sufficient time, skills, training and resources necessary for integrating students with disabilities (Scruggs and Mastropieri, 1996; Bender, Vial & Scott, 1995; Tait & Purdie, 2000). Teachers need more training in order to be prepared to include students with disabilities into the general education classroom (Shade & Stewart, 2001; Shier, 2002).

Most general education preservice teachers receive minimal coursework in special education (Garriott, Miller & Snyder 2003). Currently in the United States, at least half of the states require at least one special education course for pursuing certification in regular education (Dumas, Evans, & Weible, 1990; Ganschow, Weber, & Davis, 1984; S.D. Jones & Messenheimer-Young, 1989; S.L. Swartz, Hidalgo, & Hays, 1991-1992). Research found that preservice and in-service teachers who had completed at least one course exposing them to special and inclusive education had more positive attitudes towards individuals with disabilities (Bradshaw & Mundia, 2006; Shade & Stewart, 2001).

Only six states require specific courses on inclusionary practices for regular education teacher certification (Katysiyannis, Conderman, & Fran, 1995). The majority of states have not modified certification requirements for the preparation of teachers in integrated settings (Ganschow, Weber & Davis, 1984; Kearney & Durand, 1992). At least ten states still do not require a course in special education despite statistics that indicate eighty percent of students with mild disabilities are placed in the general education classroom (Shade & Steward, 2001). Shier (2002) found that 60 percent of secondary teachers and 66 percent of primary teachers did not have a class or training to help them deal with special education students.

Traditional teacher preparation programs contain only information-based courses, designed to prepare teachers to work with children with special needs and do not include field work. These programs increase the knowledge base of students; however, they have little impact on attitudes towards disability (Forlin et al., 1999; Hastings, Hewes, Lock & Witting, 1996; Tait & Purdie, 2000). University teacher preparation programs tend to over-emphasize knowledge acquisition to the detriment of equipping teachers with practical skills for teaching a diverse population of students in their classrooms (Edelen-Smith, Prater & Sileo, 1993; Reed & Monda-Amaya, 1995; Reitz & Kerr, 1991). Classroom teachers need to feel comfortable and competent at adapting curriculum for students with disabilities (Stanovich & Jordan, 2002).

The most effective way to alter attitudes towards inclusion is to present information based courses with field work and direct contact with people with disabilities (Burke & Sutherland, 2004; Ford, Pugach, & Otis-Wilborn, 2001; Mayhew, 1994; Rees et al., 1991; Westwood, 1984). Van Reusen et al (2001) found that positive teacher attitudes towards inclusion were related to the teachers’ level of training and experience in working with students with disabilities.

Research has indicated that the level of contact between teachers and students with disabilities is a significant factor in determining positive attitudes towards inclusion (Beh-Pajooh, 1991; Forlin, Fogarty & Carroll, 1999; Gregory, 1997; Hastings & Graham, 1995; Hastings et al., 1996; Pernice & Lys, 1996). However, many programs have inadequate or inappropriate field based experiences and do not expose preservice teachers to individuals with disabilities (Buck, Morsink, Griffin, Hines, & Lenk, 1992; D’Alonzo, et al., 1996; Edelen-Smith et al., 1993).

Some studies have observed a relationship between teachers’ knowledge and experience and their acceptance or resistance of including students with disabilities into general education classrooms (Gallagher, 1985; LeRoy & Simpson, 1996; Pernell, McIntyre, & Bader, 1985; Stoler, 1992; Taylor, Richards, Goldstein & Schilit, 1997; Sack, 1998). In studies where teachers had active experiences with inclusion, teachers favored inclusion showing that teacher commitment emerges after they have experience with inclusion (LeRoy & Simpson, 1996; Villa et al., 1996). Avramidis, Bayliss, and Burden’s (2000) study found that teachers with active experience with inclusion held significantly more positive attitudes towards inclusion than those from randomly selected schools. Also, the level of professional development of the respondents was found to be significantly related to their attitude towards inclusion (Avramidis, Bayliss, & Burden, 2000).

Attitudes towards inclusion have been found to be directly impacted by the amount of education they receive through training programs (Avramidis, Bayliss & Burden, 2000; Burke & Sutherland, 2004; Jobe, Rust, & Brissie, 1996; Jung, FIND YEAR; Leyser & Tappendorf, 2001; Reber, Marshak, & Glor-Scheib, 1995; Wilczenski, 1991). The more training an individual has the more positive attitudes towards inclusion. They also tend to be more successful with inclusion practices (Burke & Sutherland, 2004; DeBettencourt, 1999; Dev & Scruggs, 1997). In order to achieve successful inclusion outcomes, teachers must receive adequate preparation (Bender, Vail & Scott, 1995). Teacher education programs need to focus on promoting positive teacher attitudes towards inclusion of students with exceptionalities (Elhoweris & Alsheikh, 2006).

Preservice training has been identified as a major factor impacting overall teacher efficacy beliefs (Freytag, 2001). Freytag (2001) found teacher efficacy scores are significantly impacted by the number of preservice courses a teacher completes that address the inclusionary practices. Preservice and in-service teachers who had completed at least one course exposing them to special and inclusive education had a much better attitude toward people with disabilities (Bradshaw & Mundia, 2006; Shade & Steward, 2001). Teacher efficacy was also increased by taking an extra class in education (Hoy & Woolfolk, 1993). Studies reported attitude changes and more willingness to accommodate special education students with additional training (Avramidis, Bayless & Burden, 2000; Burke & Sutherland, 2004; Jobe, Rust, & Brissie, 1996; Leyser & Tappendorf, 2001; Parker, 2006).

Special Education versus General Education

Research studies have reported significant differences in attitudes towards inclusion of students with disabilities between special education and general education teachers (Taylor, Richards, Goldstein & Schilit, 1997).

Positive attitudes about inclusion appear related to the levels of special education training, and knowledge and experience working with students with disabilities (Sack, 1998; Scruggs & Mastropieri, 1996; Shoho & Barker, 2000; Taylor, et al, 1997). Teachers with more positive attitudes towards inclusion reported the highest level of special education training and experience working with students with disabilities (Shoho & Barker, 2000).

Research has found that special education teachers are more confident and prepared for inclusion of students with disabilities (Bandy & Boyer, 1994; Buell, Hallam, & Gamel-McCormick, 1999; Green & Stoneman, 1989; Fritz & Miller, 1995; Sindelar, 1995). Special education teachers have more positive views about inclusion than general education teachers (Fuchs & Fuchs, 1994). Also, special education teachers receive extensive training regarding inclusion of students with disabilities (Shier, 2002).

General Education Teachers

General education teachers tend to be less supportive of inclusion than special education teachers (Davis & Maheady, 1991; Garvar-Pinhas & Schmelkin, 1989; Schmelkin, 1981). General education teachers have not participated in the same types of preservice training programs as special education teachers and often feel less confident in their ability to meet the needs of students with disabilities (Buell, Hallam, & Gabel-McCormick,1999; Freytag, 2001). General education teachers have demanded an increased understanding of various types of disabilities and how to interact with students with disabilities within the general education classroom (Sabornie & deBettencourt, 1997).

As a result of the lack of training, many general education teachers feel less confident in their ability to include and make modifications and accommodations for students with disabilities (Buell, Hallam, & Gamel-McCormick, 1999; Freytag, 2001). This also led general education teachers to have a more negative attitude towards inclusion of students with disabilities than their special education counterparts (Chamberlain, 1995). If teachers gain additional knowledge about including students with disabilities into their classrooms and how to address their learning needs, they may have less negative attitudes towards inclusion (Shoho, Katims, & Wilks, 1997).

Many teacher education models have a separation in the education of general education and special education students (Carroll, Forlin, & Jobling, 2003). Preservice programs must provide both general and special education teachers with appropriate instruction as well as supervised experiences in order to develop the appropriate skills to make inclusion successful (O’Shea & O’Shea cited in Tapasak & Walther-Thomas, 1999). One option is to require preservice teachers to become duel certified in both general and special education (Turner, 2003). Another option would be to offer a required course for preservice teachers to focus on how to teach students with disabilities and including instructional strategies and learning styles (Shade & Stewart, 2001).

Shoho, Katims, and Wilks (1997) suggested increasing the knowledge base of educators about students with disabilities in ways to meet their learning needs. Those teachers who had an increase knowledge base of students with disabilities had more positive attitudes towards inclusion (Shade & Steward, 2001). Salend (2001) suggested university programs use disability simulation strategies which give preservice teachers an opportunity to experience how it feels to have a disability. Another method is to use films and videos demonstrating successful inclusion programs to promote more positive attitudes (Elhoweris & Alsheikh, 2006).

By providing pre-service teachers with the skill and knowledge they need to address diversity needs within their classrooms; their attitudes towards inclusion may positively change. Results indicated the level of the professional development of the respondents was found to be significantly related to their attitude towards inclusion (Avramidis & Bayliss, 2000).

Teachers set the tone for the classroom and the success of inclusion will depend upon the attitudes of the teachers as they interact with students with disabilities in their classrooms (Lombard, Miller, & Hazelkorn, 1998; Milton & Rohl, 1999).

Type of Disability

It has long been accepted that teachers’ attitudes and expectations impact upon their students’ educational outcomes (Ashton & Webb, 1986; Avramidis & Norwich, 2002; Bacon & Schultz, 1991; Berman & McLaughlin, 1977; Coates, 1989; Gibson & Dembo, 1984; Good & Brophy, 1997; Greene, Anderson, & Loewen, 1988; Hoy & Woolfolk, 1993; Moore & Esselman, 1992; Ross, 1992; Semmel, Abernathy, Butera, & Lesar, 1991; Silberman, 1971; Soar & Soar, 1982).

Research has shown that teachers’ attitudes towards inclusion vary according to the disability type (Avramidis, Bayliss, & Burden, 2000; Bradshaw and Mundia 2006; Center & Ward, 1987; Dean, Elrod & Blackbourn, 1999; Jobe, Rust & Brissie, 1996; Mak, 2003; Scruggs & Mastropieri, 1996; Soodak, Podell, & Lehman, 1998) and severity of the disability (Forlin et al, 1996; Rainforth, 2000; Scruggs & Mastropieri, 1996).

Studies have indicated that teachers had positive attitudes about including only those children whose characteristics were not likely to require extra instructional or management skills on the part of the teacher (Forlin, 1995; Lusano, 2001; Schumm, Vaughn, Haager, McDowell, Rothlein & Saumell, 1999; Vaughn, Schumm, Jallad, Slusher & Saumell, 1996). Children with less severe special needs, who are also less demanding in terms of teachers' time commitment, are generally viewed more positively as candidates for inclusion (Avramidis, Bayliss, & Burden, 2000; Soodak et al., 1998; Stoiber et al., 1998).

Several teacher survey studies found that the least favorable students for inclusion were those with severe mental and multiple handicaps, (Avaramidis, Bayliss, & Burden, 2000; Diebold & VanEschenback, 1991; Jobe. Rust, & Brissie, 1996; Shotel, Iano, & McGeltigan, 1972; Thomas, 1985). Additional research shows that teachers were less accepting of students with severe disabilities (Center & Ward, 1987; Forlin et al, 1996; Gemmel-Crosby & Hanzlik, 1994; Scruggs & Mastropieri, 1996; Stoiber et al, 1998; Ward et al, 1994). Some teachers believed that students with severe and/or multiple handicaps would be disruptive to the general education class and require too much attention (Scruggs & Mastropieri, 1996).

In addition, children with intellectual disabilities were typically rated less positively by samples of teachers and student teachers (Avramidis, Bayliss, & Burden, 2000; Center & Ward, 1987; Clough and Lindsay, 1991; Forlin, 1995; Hayes & Gunn, 1988; Kwapy, 2004; Soodak et al., 1998; Stoiber et al., 1998; Thomas, 1985). Teachers reported that they felt threatened by the inclusion of students with cognitive disabilities (Kwapy, 2004).

Research has found that teachers ranked emotional and behavioral difficulties as difficult to include within the general education classes (Avramidis et al, 2000; Bowman, 1986; Clough & Lindsay, 1991; Forlin, 1995; Hastings & Oakford, 2003; Hayes & Gunn, 1988; Heflin & Bullock, 1999; Kwapy, 2004; Soodak et al., 1998; Stoiber et al, 1998). They feel resentment that these students are placed in their classrooms without the proper training or support (Creal, 2000; Glass, 1996). In addition to being rated less positively in regards to inclusion; children with emotional and behavioral problems were viewed as causing more concern and stress for the teacher than other types of disabilities (Avramidis, Bayliss, & Burden; 2000; Forlin, 1995). In several survey studies of teachers, it was found that children with emotional and behavioral problems were rated as likely to have a more negative impact on other children, the teacher, and the classroom environment (Avramidis, Bayliss & Burden, 2000; Clough & Lindsay, 1991; Hastings & Oakford 2003; Soodak et al, 1988; Stoiber et al, 1998).

Research on the inclusion of students with learning disabilities has been varied. Some teachers have been found to be more favorable toward the integration of students with learning disabilities (Diebold & VanEschenback, 1991; Shotel, Iano, & McGeltigan, 1972). Conversely, other studies have found teachers’ to have study found that teachers have less than positive attitudes towards integration of students with learning disabilities (Bowman, 1986; Clough & Lindsay, 1991). Kwapy’s (2004) study reported teachers’ feeling frustrated by the inclusion of students with learning disabilities.

Research has shown that medical and physical conditions were seen as most easy to manage and teachers’ had more positive attitudes towards integration of students with physical and sensory impairments. (Avaramidis, Bayliss, & Burden; Jobe, Rust,& Brissie, 1996; Bowman, 1986; Thomas, 1985).

Research by Simpson, Boer-Ott, and Smith-Myles (2003) focused on inclusion of students with ASDs. Inclusion of students with ASDs requires careful planning in order for inclusive education to be successful (Simpson, Boer-Ott, & Smith-Myles, 2003). It was reported that educators who were otherwise skilled and competent, felt less than capable of accommodating for students with ASDs in their classrooms (Spears, Tollefson, & Simpson, 2001).

Chapter 3: Methodology

This chapter provides a description of the procedures utilized in collecting and analyzing the data for this study. Collected data was used to address the research questions.

The present study will attempt to determine pre-service teachers’ self-efficacy as a correlate of teachers’ attitudes towards inclusion of students with ASDs using a quantitative design. The quantitative data will utilize data collected by surveys. This method of collecting information was selected because standardized questions allowed each participant to receive the same questions in the same format. The variables to be compared are the scores on The Opinions Relative to the Integration of Students with Disabilities scale (ORI), the scores on The Teacher’s Sense of Efficacy Scale (TSES), and demographic information.

The relationship between the TSES and ORI will also be investigated relative to the demographic survey data. Demographic information will include: age, gender, ethnicity, teacher education program (education level), and special education background (number of special education classes completed), and personal experience working with students with disabilities.

This section describes the population, operational definition of variables, instruments used, procedures, and hypotheses utilized in this study. Copies of both instruments used are located in Appendices __________.

Description of Population

In order to investigate preservice teachers’ sense of efficacy as a correlation of teacher attitudes towards inclusion of students with ASDs, preservice teachers will be selected from several schools within a 50 mile radius of the researcher’s residence. A purposive sampling will be used and participants will be recruited by emailing the chairs of the education departments at their respective universities. Surveys will be sent to elementary and secondary teachers. All preservice teachers will be asked to participate in this study regardless of gender, ethnicity, or progress within their particular major/minor. A large sample will be selected because typically the rate of return can be low. A minimum of _____ surveys were necessary for adequate data for analysis and were received. The surveys will be sent to the chair of the education department to distribute to all preservice teachers on their campus. The sample for this study will include students from several universities and colleges within the Midwestern states of Indiana, Illinois and Michigan. The data collection will take place during the fall semester (August-December) of 2009. The participants of this research survey will include ________ education students from the various Midwest universities_____. The sample will include both public and private university settings.

Operational Definition of Variables

Two standardized scales will be used during this study and included The Opinions Relative to the Integration of Students with Disabilities scale (ORI) by Larrivee and Antonak and the Teacher Sense of Efficacy Scale (TSES) by Tschannen-Moran and Woolfolk-Hoy.

The dependent variable for this study is identified as preservice teacher attitudes towards inclusion of students with ASDs as rated on the ORI. An independent variable for this study is identified as self-efficacy of preservice teachers as rated on the TSES. A demographic survey will be distributed to the preservice teachers to measure additional independent variables and included the following data: age, gender, ethnicity, teacher education program (education level), and special education background (number of special education classes completed), and personal experience working with students with disabilities.

The following terms and definitions are essential information for the reader. They enable a better understanding of the research study. This section also provides the reader knowledge of how these terms apply to this research project. These terms include:

Age: The chronological age of the preservice teacher.

Data: Information acquired through research. Data gathered through this research project was utilized in determining self-efficacy as a correlate of teacher attitudes towards inclusion of students with ASDs.

Ethnicity: The preservice teacher’s identity with or membership with a particular racial, national, or cultural group: 1) Caucasian, 2) Hispanic, 3) Asian, 4) Pacific Islander, 5) African American, 6) Native American, 8) Other ___.

Gender: The biological sex of the preservice teacher (male and female).

Education level: The level of education of the preservice teacher was coded in years ranging from first-year university student through graduation: 1) Freshman, 2) Sophomore, 3) Junior, 4) Senior, 5) Fifth year senior, 6) Other _______.

Likert Scale: A Likert Scale is an instrument that measured and rated preservice teachers’ levels of agreement (e.g., strongly agree, agree, undecided, or strongly agree) with various statements. This system of quantitative data collection is often used to measure attitudes in research studies (Cite).

Number of Special Education Classes Completed: Several of the universities/colleges surveyed had specific requirements for elementary and secondary students. Special education coursework was coded per number of classes completed: 1) None, 2) One class, 3) Two classes, 4) Three classes, 4) Four classes, 5) Five or more classes.

Personal experiences with persons with disabilities: 1) None, 2) Acquaintance (neighbor), 3) Casual (fellow student, co-worker), 4) close (roommate, relative), 5) intimate (sibling, significant other).

Survey: An instrument used to gather data, information or opinions. The survey utilized in this study includes a demographic survey, Opinions Relative to Integration of Students with Disabilities (ORI), and Teacher’s Sense of Efficacy Scale (TSES).

Instruments Used

The demographic survey, Opinions Relative to Integration of Students with Disabilities (ORI), and Teacher’s Sense of Efficacy Scale (TSES) will be used as survey instruments within this study. Permission to distribute the ORI and TES surveys will be obtained by the researcher (see Appendix ___).

An internet link to the surveys will be sent to the chair of the education department to distribute to the preservice teachers on their campus. The internet link will include an attached letter of instructions, the demographic survey, the ORI, and TSES for the chair to distribute (See Appendix ___). The letter of instructions attached to the surveys will indicate that completion of the survey constituted informed consent.

The preservice teachers will complete a basic demographic information survey. This survey is located in Appendix _____. The demographic survey will measure the variables of age, gender, ethnicity, teacher sense of self efficacy, teacher education program (education level), and special education background (number of special education classes completed), and personal experience working with students with disabilities. In addition to the demographic information survey, two questionnaires will be utilized, the ORI and the TSES.

The first survey which will be utilized is an adapted version of the ORI used to measure preservice teachers’ attitudes towards inclusion of students with ASDs. Previous research studies have included a variety of tests measuring attitudes towards inclusion. Many of the research studies used a version of the Opinions Relative to Mainstreaming Special Needs Children by Antonak and Larrivee (1979). This original scale included 30 items. Further studies by Antonak and Larrivee (1995) found that their revised 25 item version was more reliable than the original version. The current version of this scale, Opinions Relative to Integration of Students with Disabilities (ORI) scale (Antonak & Larivee, 1995) was used within this study (located in Appendix _____).

The scale was revised from the original Opinions Relative to Mainstreaming scale, which was designed by Larrivee and Cook (1979). The ORI was designed by Antonak and Larrivee (1995) and it has 25 items that respondent’s rate on a Likert scale. The scale is a 6 point continuum, which ranges from +3 to -3. The +3 means strongly agree and the -3 means strongly disagree.

The ORI questionnaire measured teachers’ attitudes and opinions as it relates to students with disabilities being included into general education classrooms. The ORI consists of 25 items, 12 of the items have a disagree response and 13 have an agree response. The 25 questions were reduced into four subcategories by Antonak & Larivee (1995). The four categories included: Benefits of Integration (Factor 1), Integrated Classroom Management (Factor 2), Perceived Ability to Teach Students with Disabilities (Factor 3), and Special Versus Integrated General Education (Factor 4). The ORI scale yields a total score which indicates a person’s overall attitude towards inclusion of students with disabilities. The higher a person’s total score, the more positively he or she feels about inclusion. Conversely, the lower a person’s total score, the less positively he or she feels about inclusion.

The original version of the ORI has been found to be both a reliable and valid measure. It has been used in many research studies pertaining to attitudes towards inclusion. Research by Antonak and Larrivee (1995) show that the item and scale analysis using Spearman-Brown corrected split-half reliability of the ORI was 0.82 and the Cronbach’s coefficient alpha homogeneity coefficient was 0.88. Validity of the ORI was tested using hierarchical multiple-regression analysis. The overall distribution of the attitudes scores was found to be within the normal range (Antonak & Larrivee, 1995). The Spearman-Brown coefficient was 0.83 (Antonak & Larrivee, 1995).

Adaptations made to the ORI survey attempted to focus the survey from general disability areas to specifically students with autism spectrum disorders. The wording was changed from “students with disabilities” to “students with autism spectrum disorders” This was in an effort to focus on teacher candidates opinions relative to the integration of students with ASDs rather than the entire spectrum of disability categories. These adaptations should not significantly change the reliability or validation of the original scale.

The second survey which will be utilized is the TSES used to measure preservice teachers’ sense of efficacy. Teacher efficacy has been identified as an important contributor to the educational achievement of students. Teacher efficacy within this study will be measured in the form of a questionnaire. There were also a variety of questionnaires given in previous research studies pertaining to teacher efficacy. One of the earliest attempts to measure dimensions of teacher efficacy was conducted by Gibson and Dembo (1984) who developed the TES based on Ashton and Webb’s conceptual model (year?).

Many of the tests used full or shortened versions of the Teacher Efficacy Scale (TES). The teacher efficacy scale (TES) was one of the earliest attempts to measure the dimensions of teacher self-efficacy. The TES is the most commonly used and was said to be developed in accordance with Bandura’s theory of self efficacy (1977). The TES was originally developed by Gibson and Dembo (1984). The original TES scale was a 30 item questionnaire using a Likert scale format. The questions were divided into personal and teacher efficacy.

The TES was said to have 2 factors: Personal Teaching Efficacy and General Teaching Efficacy. However, there is recent evidence that theoretical and psychometric issues may invalidate findings based on those measures (Brouwers & Tomic, 2003; Deemer & Minke, 1999; Dellinger, 2005; Dellinger, Bobbett, Olivier, & Ellett, 2008; Denzine, Cooney & McKenzie, 2005; Guskey & Passaro, 1994;). Questions have been raised about the factor structure and item content of the scale. Several researchers have identified concerns regarding the factor structure of the TES (Guskey & Passaro, 1994; Woolfolk & Hoy, 1990).

Adaptations made to the TES survey will attempt to focus the survey from general disability areas to specifically students with autism spectrum disorders. The wording was changed from “students” to “students with autism spectrum disorders” This was in an effort to focus on teacher candidates opinions relative to the integration of students with ASDs rather than the entire spectrum of disability categories. These adaptations should not significantly change the reliability or validation of the original scale.

A study by Flood (2007) compared psychometric characteristics of teacher efficacy scales. The goal was to determine how well the teacher efficacy scales measure the construct of teacher self-efficacy. The original Teacher Efficacy Scale (TES) by Gibson and Dembo (1984) contained 30 items on a 6-point Likert scale. It measured 2 factors: Personal teaching efficacy and general teaching efficacy. The internal consistency reliability for the overall TES using Cronbach’s alpha was as follows 0.79 (Flood, 2007). The Responsibility for Student Achievement (RSA) by Guskey (1981) also included 30 alternative weighting items with either a positive or negative student achievement experience.

The internal consistency reliability for the overall RSA using Cronbach’s alpha was 0.791 for the R+ subscale (internal responsibility for success) and 0.881 for the R- subscale (internal responsibility for student failure) (Flood, 2007). The Bandura Teacher Efficacy Scale (BTES) by Bandura (undated) consisted of 28 items rated on a 0-100 scale. The internal consistency reliability using Cronbach’s alpha was 0.94, 0.95, and 0.92 (based on the average score of 30 items (Hoy & Spero, 2005). The Teacher Sense of Efficacy Scale (TSES) by Tschannen-Moran & Woolfolk-Hoy (2001) consisted of 24 items within the Long form and 12 items for the Short form. The TSES had an internal consistency reliability using Cronbach’s alpha of 0.94 for the Long form and 0.90 for the short form.

The current study used the Teacher’s Sense of Efficacy Scale (TSES). This questionnaire was designed by Tschannen-Moran and Woolfolk-Hoy (cite). The internal consistency reliability of overall TSES score is 0.94 (Tschannen-Moran & Woolfolk-Hoy, 2001). The Efficacy for Instructional Strategies TSES subscale yielded an alpha of 0.91 as reported by Tschannen-Moran & Woolfolk-Hoy, 2001). The Efficacy for Classroom Management subscale produced an alpha of 0.90 (Tschannen-Moran & Woolfolk-Hoy, 2001). Overall, these are good to excellent internal consistency scores for the TSES subscales as well as excellent internal consistency for the composite TSES. It is anticipated that adaptations made will not have a significant impact on the scale’s reliability and validity.

Procedures

An internet link to the demographic information survey, the Teacher Sense of Efficacy Scale, and the Opinions Relative to the Integration of Students with Disabilities questionnaires will be sent to the chairs of the education department for distribution to preservice teachers within their education program. Preservice teachers will be directed to the internet link for the surveys. The internet link will open to an introduction page explaining the research study and a letter of consent to participate within the study.

Students will be prompted to print a copy of the letter of consent to keep for their records. Upon completing the consent page, the students will be directed to the survey page. At the top of the survey page, directions will state that participants are to answer each question and will refer participants to a response key, which will be used for making their responses.

To protect the privacy and confidentiality of participants, each survey will be given an identification number and names will not appear on the data collection instruments. An incentive for participation in the study will be offered to anyone who returns his or her survey. All respondents will be eligible for a drawing in which they received a gift certificate to Target. The names will be drawn randomly from those that returned the surveys. There will be email notification to the winners.

Data Collection

Quantitative research data will be gathered through online surveys. The chairs of education departments at various universities will be sent an email link to the survey data. The chairs of the education department will distribute the survey link to the preservice teachers within their program. A demographic survey, The Opinions Relative to the Integration of Students with Disabilities scale (ORI) and the Teacher’s Sense of Efficacy Scale (TSES) will be administered taking approximately 30 minutes to complete. The surveys will be administered in a Likert scale format. Space will be provided on the survey instrument for the respondents to indicate any attitudes or feelings towards inclusion they would like to include.

Null Hypothesis

It is hypothesized that there will be a strong positive relationship between the level of teacher efficacy and the level of attitude towards inclusion of students with ASDs. Preservice teachers with a high level of teacher efficacy would have a positive attitude towards inclusion of students with ASDs. Preservice teachers with a low level of teacher efficacy would have a negative attitude towards inclusion of students with ASDs. It is also hypothesized that there will be a positive relationship between the number of classes completed regarding disability training and both teacher attitudes towards inclusion and teacher efficacy.

Statistical Analysis

Data analysis in this study will be conducted using the statistical analysis software Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS) Version 12.0 for Windows. A frequency count of demographic information will also be conducted. Demographic data will include: age, gender, ethnicity, teacher sense of self efficacy, teacher education program (education level), and special education background (number of special education classes completed), and personal experience working with students with disabilities.

A one way analysis of variance (Roberts, et al.) will be employed to identify any effect for age, gender, contact with students with disabilities, course of study, and education level. In addition, a multivariate analysis of variance (MANOVA) will be employed to determine any effects for these variables and the ORI and TSES scales. A chi-square analysis of the data will be completed to check for significant differences in observed and expected frequencies of the demographic data.

The Opinions Relative to the Integration of Students with Disabilities (ORI) and the Teacher’s Sense of Efficacy Scale (TSES) questionnaires will be scored to determine the preservice teachers’ sense of efficacy and their attitudes towards inclusion. A correlation coefficient will be used to analyze the scores. Correlation coefficients were used to measure whether the variables within the study were interrelated. The correlation coefficient will tell if there was a relationship between the data, how strong the relationship is, as well as the direction and shape of the relationship. The variables for this study will be the ORI and the TSES scores.

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