Perspectives on inclusion: Implications for educators

Linda M Boland, University of Pennsylvania


This descriptive study used ethnographic research methodology to identify perceptions on inclusion from practicing principals, teachers, specialists, school nurses, and student teachers. It inquired into ways administrators and school personnel feel their responsibilities contributed to inclusive practices and educational outcomes. Not a random sample, this six-month study was conducted in three demographically similar, central Pennsylvania elementary schools that had demonstrated consistent commitment to inclusion. They were not prototypes of full inclusion, but rather were evolving through integration. Respondents consisted of three principals; a minimum of five regular education teachers from each school; two to four special education teachers from each location; several special class instructors (e.g. art, music, physical education); speech therapists; and each site's nurse. Respondents' perceptions were identified through multiple data sources: semi-structured, audio-taped interviews; document analysis; observations; and journals. To achieve a diverse perspective, the researcher asked identical, broad questions to interviewees. Respondents voiced positive and negative effects of inclusion. Findings were organized into six themes about perspectives on inclusion and the implications for both direct-line educators and periphery personnel such as nurses and bus drivers. Themes included: Role Clarification (principals, special education teachers); Features of Inclusion (service delivery, what inclusion looks like); General Educational Concerns (support, class climate, hopes and fears, concerns of personnel, identification of possibilities for change and constraints); Personnel Issues (professional preparation and training, working through staff resistance, teacher empowerment); Pupil Issues (concerns for the "average" student, peer tutors, transition); and Societal Considerations (impact on home life and the community). These findings may be early-process enablers for school districts that want to move forward in making informed decisions about serving the educational and peripheral needs of students perceived to have "special" needs. An appendix provides interview questions and related documents.

Subject Area

Special education

Recommended Citation

Boland, Linda M, "Perspectives on inclusion: Implications for educators" (1996). Dissertations available from ProQuest. AAI9627887.