Preparing general teachers to work in inclusive classrooms: An exploratory collective case study of two Elementary and Early Childhood (K-grade 3) teacher education programmes in the United Arab Emirates

Kaltham Rashed Alyateem Almehairi

Programme: PhD in Education

Year of Graduation :2018

 

Preparing general teachers to work in inclusive classrooms: An exploratory collective case study of two Elementary and Early Childhood (K-grade 3) teacher education programmes in the United Arab Emirates

 

This exploratory case study investigated the current state of how teacher programmes in two government universities in the UAE were preparing prospective teachers to work in inclusive classrooms. Curricula used in course work and how inclusive teaching strategies and practices are addressed in these curricula were examined. The study also explored pre-service teachers and faculty views about the contribution of these programmes to prepare prospective teachers to teach in inclusive settings. This study employed a qualitative research approach and a multi-case study methodology that takes interpretivism as its philosophical foundation.  Data was collected by the methods of document analysis, interviews with faculty members in elementary and early-childhood (Pre K-grade 3) programmes, and focus groups with the pre-service teachers. Findings showed that there were no clear philosophies of inclusive education with regards to students with special needs guiding both programmes’ frameworks. There were also major differences between the two cases in the contribution to the process of preparing their teachers for inclusive schools. The differences were mostly in linking theoretical content with practice, the quantity and the quality of field experiences, collaboration between faculty of elementary and special education, and the alignment between course objectives, outcomes, and educational resources regarding inclusive practices. One distinct finding in Programme (A) was that the faculty views about inclusion inclined to consider mainstreaming for students with disabilities rather than full membership to be educated in general classrooms. This view was in contrast with the views of faculty in Programme (B) which showed a strong commitment toward the principles of equity and equality in education which consequently was reflected in teaching practices. The importance of this study is to raise awareness about the offerings of teacher education programmes in the UAE regarding preparing teachers for inclusion, and the need to make foundational changes in curriculum content to meet this aim and additionally, to pay more attention to the elementary pre-service teachers’ opinions about their preparation to teach in inclusive schools.

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