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Pedagogy of Inclusion: A Quest for Inclusive Teaching and Learning

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Abstract

Since the advent of the philosophy of inclusion and the inception of inclusive education, following a number of international developments such as the signing of the Salamanca Statement in 1994, attempts worldwide to define the elusive concept of inclusive pedagogy have been largely unsuccessful. This qualitative study therefore seeks to highlight the state of current debates around the development of the notion of inclusive pedagogy, its definition, conception and operationalization. A detailed review of the current literature was conducted to synthesise a conceptual framework. Interviews were conducted with six purposefully selected inclusive practitioners in secondary schools in one education district of South Africa. An inductive analytical framework was used to analyse the data. The main findings of the study indicate that there is no universally accepted definition of inclusive pedagogy but that its meaning is contextually, philosophically and operationally determined. The study demonstrates that more research is required to redefine the notion of inclusive pedagogy. Keywords: Behaviouristic teaching, inclusion, inclusive pedagogy, constructivist teaching.
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Pedagogy of Inclusion: A Quest for Inclusive Teaching and Learning
TM Makoelle
Department of Educational Psychology, University of Johannesburg
tmakoelle@uj.ac.za
Doi:10.5901/mjss.2014.v5n20p1259
Abstract
Since the advent of the philosophy of inclusion and the inception of inclusive education, following a number of international
developments such as the signing of the Salamanca Statement in 1994, attempts worldwide to define the elusive concept of
inclusive pedagogy have been largely unsuccessful. This qualitative study therefore seeks to highlight the state of current
debates around the development of the notion of inclusive pedagogy, its definition, conception and operationalization. A
detailed review of the current literature was conducted to synthesise a conceptual framework. Interviews were conducted with
six purposefully selected inclusive practitioners in secondary schools in one education district of South Africa. An inductive
analytical framework was used to analyse the data. The main findings of the study indicate that there is no universally accepted
definition of inclusive pedagogy but that its meaning is contextually, philosophically and operationally determined. The study
demonstrates that more research is required to redefine the notion of inclusive pedagogy.
Keywords: Behaviouristic teaching, inclusion, inclusive pedagogy, constructivist teaching.
1. Introduction
From a global perspective, the notion of inclusion seems to be conceptualised differently as countries have varying
contexts which influence how it is understood and implemented (Artiles and Dyson, 2005; Dyson, 2001; Florian and
Kershner, 2009; Nel et al., 2011). The concept is regarded as context-bound and there is confusion about its use and
meaning. (Clough and Corbett 2000; O’Brien 2001). Ainscow (2010) refers to inclusion as a process of reorganising the
school to be responsive to the needs of all its learners, while other researchers conceptualise inclusion as a way of
achieving the goal of creating an inclusive society (Artiles and Kozleski, 2007).
Attempts have been made to universalise the definition of inclusion. For example, UNESCO (2001: 8) states that
inclusion acknowledges that all children can learn and that all need some form of support for learning. The UNESCO
understanding of inclusion seems to converge with the elements of definitions referred above in the sense that, in both
instances, prominence is given to aspects such as the notion of equality, access to and provision of education to all
regardless of background, and a curriculum responsive to the needs of all learners. These aspects seem to transcend the
definitions of inclusive education worldwide, despite the varied and diverse contexts referred to earlier.
These different interpretations have made it impossible to formulate a universal definition of inclusion. The
multitude of definitions of inclusion have resulted in different practices of inclusion at pedagogical level, thus prompting
questions about the nature of inclusive pedagogic practice, a question which is pertinent to this study. For example, there
is a perspective by Farrell (1997), Rief and Heimburge (2006) and others that inclusion involves applying special-
education strategies within the mainstream schools; however, there is a counter-argument that inclusion is an alternative
approach to special education, goes beyond such strategies, and draws on the creativity and novelty of teachers to
enhance meaningful learning (Ainscow, 2010; Ballard, 1999).
As a result of the arguments discussed above, five main theoretical positions are dominant in the literature. The
different perspectives on inclusion have been influenced by the way any given society construes the meaning of
inclusion. Over the years, this has been looked at from different angles and in terms of various approaches or models.
According to Clough and Corbett (2000:34), the main dimensions of inclusive perspectives are the following:
Curriculum approaches model: This model involves viewing the curriculum as having the potential to act as a
barrier to learning by itself if the curriculum is not inclusive and not targeted towards a diverse learner population (Mara
and Mara, 2012).
School improvement strategies model: The way the school is organised could act as a barrier to learning as well.
For example, there is a growing tendency to focus on pass rates, ostensibly in the interests of raising standards, and to
exclude those whose performance is perceived to be weak (Ainscow et al., 2012).
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Disability model: The physical or psychological attributes of the learner render him or her a victim of exclusion; for
example, learners with perceived physical or psychological disabilities (e.g. the deaf) are deliberately excluded (Barnes &
Sheldon, 2010; Walmsley, 2001).
Pedagogical model: This approach stems from the medical deficit model, in terms of which teaching and learning
are designed to address the learners’ medically diagnosed shortcomings. According to this model, the learner is
perceived to have a handicap which hampers effective learning.
Socio-ecological model: This model, which developed as a critical response to the medical deficit model, perceives
the learner’s social context as being at the core of accepting diversity and allowing his or her participation regardless of
individual differences (Ainscow and Cesar, 2006; Landsberg, Kruger and Swart, 2011; Reindal, 2008).
The research literature indicates that there has been a steady shift from the medical to the socio-ecological model.
However, despite these developments and paradigm shifts, there remains the highly contested issue of how full
participation and inclusion can be achieved, resulting in further debates about the existence of an inclusive pedagogy.
The different philosophical positions mentioned above have resulted in divergent definitions of inclusion and therefore
divergent pedagogies; for example, Klibthong (2012: 46), quoting Booth et al., and Kalambouka et al. (2012) presents a
helpful synthesis of the definitions of inclusion from various leading authors in the field of inclusion and demonstrate how
they have an effect on the nature of pedagogy, namely:
Full inclusion: Typically, this form involves developing all children, including thosewith additional needs, to
participate fully in a programme or service that caters for all.
The cluster model: A group of children with additional needs participate in a programme that operates alongside a
mainstream programme.
Reverse inclusion: A few typically developing children participate in a programme that caters largely for children
with additional needs.
Social inclusion: Children with additional needs are catered for in special settings and come together with typically
developing children at times for social experiences (Guralnick cited in Kennedy et al., 2011: 39). The different kinds of
definitions mentioned above are derived from thought orientations as quoted from Clough and Corbett (2000). However,
these variations and contestations about what inclusion is and is not have invited a critique of the notion of inclusion and
whether the pedagogy can be purely inclusive. For instance, Thomas and Loxley (2001: 41), echoed by Knight (1999),
provide a critique of inclusion by arguing that there is inconsistency between the principle of inclusion and evidence that it
works.
Virtually identical sentiments have lately been echoed by Hornby (2012). In responding to Warnock’s (2005) report,
Hornby (2012) articulates negative comments about inclusion, in a recent publication, Farrell (2010) similarly critiques the
notion of inclusion, thus raising doubts and questions about the merits of inclusive education as opposed to those of
special needs education. The varied philosophical positions and definitions have an effect on the manner in which
inclusive pedagogy is constructed in the classroom. This conundrum prompts the following questions:
Is there a pedagogy that is purely inclusive?
When can inclusive pedagogy enhance inclusive teaching and learning environments?
2. Understanding Inclusive Pedagogy
Inclusive pedagogy is defined as an approach intended to promote a culture of accommodating all and ensuring practice
based on the use of diverse teaching strategies (Corbett, 2001). It is associated with a connective pedagogy—that is,
connecting learners with their own learning first, and then connecting their learning to the curriculum (Corbett, 2001).
Inclusive pedagogy is a process whereby the learners constantly engage with the learning material, drawing on their
experiences (Nilholm & Alm, 2010). The material is presented as close as possible to reality and the learners are not
passive recipients of knowledge but are allowed to attach subjective meaning to it.
In this article, inclusive pedagogy refers to the totality of teaching methods, approaches, forms and principles that
enhance learner participation. Teaching inclusively is central to this approach. Furthermore, inclusive pedagogy is also
assumed to encompass beliefs and conceptions about what constitutes inclusive teaching and learning. However, there
is still a debate raging around the question whether is there a pedagogy that is purely inclusive (Florian, 2009). Many UK
authors such as Florian (2007), Farrell (1997), Nind et al. (2003), and Rief and Heimburge (2006) and have written about
the inclusive strategies of teaching learners with special educational needs while borrowing strategies from special-
education discourse. By contrast, Engelbrecht (1999) (Republic of South Africa) and other UK authors such as Ainscow
(2010), Ainscow and Booth (2002), Ainscow and Howes (2003), and Dyson (2001) and argue that inclusive practices
could be developed by encouraging participation and collaboration. For example, the Index for Inclusion (Ainscow and
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Booth, 2002) has served as a point of reference in this regard.
2.1 Traditional strategies-oriented view of inclusive pedagogy
The view that inclusion, as part of an inclusive education system, is about adopting certain teaching strategies derives
from the traditional approach to teaching informed by the behaviouristic approach to pedagogy. This teaching approach is
aimed at changing the behaviour of the learners. Learning is regarded as bringing about a change of behaviour in the
lerarner (Bekele and Melesse, 2011; Merrett and Wheldall, 2012). Behavioural teaching is an approach that occurs within
the context of three premises, namely setting conditions, antecedence and the consequences. It is a method that
emphasises the objective curriculum and it is often criticised for not being suitable for all areas of the curriculum (Farrell,
1997). It denies the learners the right to choose the learning material and regards teachers as more knowledgeable that
the learners in contradistinction to the notion of “self-advocacy”, which is a critical process that ensures that all learners
are included in the classroom. It does little to encourage interaction between the teacher and the learner.
According to Farrell (1997), in order to include all learners in a lesson, it would be helpful if teachers could use
behavioural teaching activities such as prompting, reinforcement and task analysis (Moore, 2012). Motivation is one of
the phenomena that teachers could employ to manipulate the behaviour of learners. Rewarding learners could ensure
that all learners are engaged in a lesson. Learners should be encouraged to take their learning seriously and be in control
of it. They should be given the opportunity to demonstrate how they have learned. The notion of “trial and error” (that is,
trying to do things for oneself) is critical in encouraging learners to lead their own learning (Farrell, 1997).
Various teaching strategies intended to modify learner behaviour are applied to support learners in the teaching
and learning process; for example, the differentiated approach to teaching; reciprocal teaching; scaffolding instruction; the
use of technology to aid inclusion; multiple intelligence; multi-level instruction; and multi-sensory instruction. Teachers
have to vary their teaching according to the needs of the learners.
Varying the available methods and technologies provides a good basis for including all the learners in the class.
For instance, differentiated instruction is often defined as taking place in a general-education classroom that makes use
of a wide variety of instructional options aimed at the increasingly diverse learning needs that typically characterise an
inclusive class nowadays (Bender, 2008; D’Amico, 2010; Hart, 1996; Rief and Heimburge, 2006). To implement
differentiated instruction, the “cubing” method is used. Cubing is a method that helps learners to look at a phenomenon
from six different perspectives, depending on how difficult it is to accommodate learner differences. Differentiated
teaching is a proactive method that it is designed to respond to the needs of all learners. As such, it may inform the
teaching and learning material, flexible groupings, and varied teaching methods and approaches (Rief and Heimburge,
2006). Reciprocal teaching is described as rotating the position of an instructional leader between the teacher and the
learner (Bender, 2008). Even though the individual learner may be taught how to direct his or her own learning, the
teacher may use scaffolding to aid the learning of all the learners. Scaffolding is the process of assisting the learner to
acquire new knowledge using his or her prior knowledge as a foundation (Bender, 2008).
Modern classrooms are equipped with the required technological devices to aid instruction, and teachers have to
use such devices to ensure that all learners have access to the teaching material. For example, two technologies that
appear to be dominant in the inclusive research literature are computer-assisted instruction (CAI) and information-
communication technology (ICT). The former (CAI) uses computers to conduct lessons, capture learner performances
and give feedback about learner progress, while ICTs such as web quests, spreadsheets and graphic presentations are
lately being used to support instruction.
Currently the universal design is popular. This is a framework used to adapt technology to the needs of all learners,
for example modified keyboards, speech recognition, text speech, scalable fonts, and the virtual environment.(Florian,
2007). Furthermore, the use of computer-assisted instruction highlights the significance of this kind of technology in
building concept maps and organising study guides. Different software programs are being developed, and the use of
multimedia technology in promoting learning is growing. Similarly, the use of the Internet makes it possible for learners to
meet ‘cyberpals’, publish their work, search websites for information, receive online mentoring by experts, and share
class projects with others. Most teachers regard technology as a tool to aid their work and not as a replacement for the
teacher (Bender 2008). While it is important for teachers to plan how they would promote participation among the
learners in their classrooms, learners should not depend on these devices to a degree that hinders the learning process
(Nind and Kellett, 2003).
The theory of multiple intelligence developed by Gardner (1983) holds that intelligence manifests itself in nine
different ways, namely verbal-linguistic, mathematical-logical, musical, visual-spatial, bodily-kinaesthetic, interpersonal,
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intrapersonal, naturalistic and existential (Bartolo et al., 2007; Vayrynen, 2003). Not all learners are at the same level of
the learning experience. Consequently, teachers have to determine the level of the learners’ learning experiences in
order to adjust and modify their teaching to suit the needs of all the learners. Multi-level instruction is a strategy that
teachers may use in responding to the varied levels of the learners’ learning experiences. This form of instruction allows
the learners to work at their own level of experience (Vayrynen, 2003).
The use of the senses is regarded as one of the prominent practices of the teaching process. Multi-sensory
instruction is described as teaching that involves all the senses; that is, seeing, hearing, tasting, touching and smelling
(Rief and Heimburge, 2006). Since learners use different senses to learn, teachers have to ensure that they are given a
chance to use these senses during the learning process. In language teaching, the learner depends primarily on the use
of perception and cognition to process information (Combley, 2001). The retention of the information learned is
consolidated through the use of the senses. Teachers therefore have to plan which learning and teaching aids to use to
enhance the use of the senses by the learners. Florian and Black-Hawkins (2011) draw attention to two different
strategies which they purport enhance inclusion: (a) Work choice requires the classroom teacher to consult with
colleagues to learn how to differentiate learning tasks so that specific accommodations for students with special
educational needs can be made; (b) Play zone refers to an area of the classroom where a range of active play choices
are provided. Teachers select activities that are matched to individual student needs.
Teaching is a process whereby teachers impart knowledge to the learners or facilitate their learning process. Booth
(cited in Ainscow and Sebba, 1992) believes that traditional teaching styles could be used to enhance inclusion but points
out that it requires a measure of flexibility and awareness to switch approaches in such a manner that the needs of all
learners are responded to. Therefore a more constructivist approach to pedagogy is advocated.
2.2 Constructivist view of inclusive pedagogy
Modern constructivist approaches to teaching emphasise two-way interaction in the sense that learners are not the
passive recipients of knowledge but also have to make a contribution to their own learning. Muijs and Reynolds (2001:
28) refer to the former approach as “direct instruction” and the latter as “interactive teaching”
Constant interactive analysis is an important aspect of curriculum delivery (Brandon, 2011). Such an interactive
analysis occurs within the framework of an interactive teaching approach. For interaction to be effective in the class,
teachers have to acknowledge questioning and elicit responses from the learner (Muijs and Reynolds, 2001). Interactive
teaching: fosters inclusion because the learners are catered for in the curriculum rather than being compelled to adjust to
the curriculum (Nind and Kellett, 2003); focuses on the participation of the learner and places less emphasis on the
outcome; is essentially teaching which is not tightly structured but creates environments which allow the learners to learn
through the spontaneous use of language, play and free exploration of their environments; is a natural way of learning in
the absence of a prescriptive structure (Farrell, 1997).
Teachers use different teaching approaches to interact with learners. The choice of a particular teaching approach
or strategy is guided by the nature of the learning material, type of learners, and the ability of the teacher to manage the
process.
Every teacher adopts a particular teaching approach to teach specific subject material to a designated group of
learners. Promoting inclusion in the classroom may require the teacher to analyse which strategies best promote
inclusion. Sebba and Ainscow (1992) argue that the use of different teaching approaches could enhance inclusion. For
instance, collaborative teaching is seen as an important prerequisite for inclusion to take place (Boyle et al., 2012;
Loreman, Deppeler and Harvey, 2005; Walsh, 2012).
The cornerstone of collaboration is communication, which requires a voluntary, mutual and creative decision-
making process on the part of the teacher for it to occur effectively (Loreman et al., 2005). Collaborative teaching is
described as teaching by two or more teachers delivering instruction to a diverse class of learners (Florian, 2007).
Teachers should be willing to establish professional communities of learning with shared goals. They should be prepared
to plan and share the responsibility of teaching (Leonard and Leonard, 2003; Murawski and Dieker, 2004; Smith 2004).
The advantage of collaboration is that the expertise, knowledge, experiences and the abilities of all teachers can be
effectively utilised. It reduces the load of the individual teacher since the work is shared by the team. It also has a positive
effect on the esteem and the confidence of the teacher. More experienced teachers assist their less experienced
colleagues, thereby improving the chances of good classroom teaching and management.
The notion of promoting partnerships with the learners to foster collaboration between teachers and learners is
important because it fosters mutual learning (Jelly, Fuller and Bryers, 2000). Collaboration and cooperation between the
teacher and the learner may have a profound effect on the thinking ability of the learner (Savolainen et al., 2012). The
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work of Reuven Feuerstein`s instrumental enrichment (IE)—which has a positive influence on aspects such as the self-
esteem of learners, improved behaviour in the class and better attainment—is a good example in this regard. The
learners are taught to think critically and solve problems, which helps them to reach their learning destinations quickly
and saves the teacher a great deal of hard work (Balshaw and Farrell, 2002; Jelly and Bryers, 2000).
On the other hand, facilitating learning also becomes significant in a constructivist view of inclusive pedagogy.
Learning is regarded as a process by which learners acquire new knowledge and a process by which they retain
knowledge acquired through learning processes. It is facilitated in different ways; therefore, to enhance inclusion during
the learning process, teachers have to understand how learners learn. Learning is believed to mean different things to
different learners. Therefore the concept has to be analysed because, when defined, it is an unjustive that is context-
bound, as said before, and heavily influenced by the learner`s experiences (Watkins, Carnell and Lodge, 2007). Learning
may occur in three stages: reception (acquiring facts or knowledge), construction (making meaning out of knowledge),
and reconstructing (‘rebuilding’ through interaction with others) and is influenced by the contact an individual is engaged
in with others.
Several constructivist learning styles are found. For instance, collaborative learning is defined as a type of learning
characterised by the identification and sharing of common reference points and models (Murphy, 1999). It involves
sharing ideas and looking at the learning phenomenon from different perspectives. Collaborative learning is associated
with what is called “classroom talk”, which is the process whereby partners share information and plan together in
presenting ideas explicitly and clearly enough to engage in joint reasoning, evaluation and decision-making (Murphy,
1999; Watkins et al., 2007). Collaborative activities give both the learner and the teacher feedback on their role during the
learning process (Walton, 2012). The learning process has to be learner-centred and learners have to be in control of
their own learning. Indeed, learning is meaningful when learners can relate what they have learned to what they already
know (prior knowledge). Cesar and Santos (2006) refer to this collaboration as a “learning community” where learning is
dependent on the communicative process, meaning is negotiated mutually, and knowledge is constructed collectively.
This is closely related to what Miles (2007) calls “creative learning” where the success of the learner is dependent on the
success of the group. Peer tutoring is a system of learning whereby proficient learners assist their less proficient peers
with their school work in a mutual academic relationship (Scruggs, Mastropieri and Marshak, 2012). Peer support
emanates from collaborative team work when learners share tasks (Blanch, Duran, Valdebenito and Flores, 2012;
Lorenz, 2002). According to Meijer (2003), peer tutoring appears to be effective in both the cognitive and affective (socio-
emotional) domains of learner development Leaners benefit from their peers and invest heavily in building sound human
relationships with their fellow learners, family and teachers (Blanch et al., 2012; Miles, 2007).
3. Method
The research on which this article is based adopted a qualitative approach. Interviews were used to collect data from the
six purposefully selected inclusive practitioners in secondary schools in one educational district of South Africa. The six
inclusive practitioners were selected due to their interest and involvement in inclusive education. An interview schedule
was used to ensure that all six practitioners were asked the same open-ended questions and were therefore free to
express their own opinions. The interviews were transcribed for analysis. An inductive analytical framework was used to
analyse the data, which were read several times to obtain a holistic picture of the depth involved. The data were then
divided into categories from which the themes were derived. Meaning was assigned to the themes.
4. Results
The main findings depend on the extent to which the research questions were answered. I will therefore restate the
research questions followed by a discussion of the findings.
4.1 Research question 1: Is there a pedagogy that is purely inclusive? The study has demonstrated the following:
4.1.1 Theme 1: Conceptualisation of inclusive pedagogy
The conceptualisation of inclusive pedagogy appears not to be universal but is dependent on the context in which it is
defined and operationalized. For instance, the inclusive practitioners interviewed held divergent views as their
understanding of inclusive pedagogy depended on how they understood inclusive education; for example, one of the
practitioners stated: “Inclusive pedagogy means facilitating the learning process to both abled and disable learners in the
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same class”. Another practioner expressed a divergent view by referring to inclusive education as “giving special support
to learners with special needs within the mainstream class”. These quotations clearly demonstrate a lack of consensus
about the meaning of the concept, which appears to be narrowly conflated with teaching strategies whereas pedagogy is
broader and encompasses aspects of beliefs, attitudes and conceptions about the pedagogic process.
4.1.2 Theme 2: Special-needs versus full-inclusion philosophy
The notion of inclusive pedagogy is influenced by underlying philosophically derived mechanisms. There seem to be two
divergent discourses: a special-needs discourse and a discourse of full inclusion which influence the understanding of
what inclusive pedagogy entails and how inclusive it can be. This was clear when practitioners were asked what was
meant by an inclusive pedagogy. Two divergent views emerged: one of special needs and the other of full inclusion. For
instance, a special-needs discourse was evident when one practitioner remarked: “Pedagogy is inclusive when learners
with disabilities are taught in the same class with their peers but receive remediation when necessary in a separate
setting that can provide support like a special school.” Another practitioner’s remarks gave credence to the notion of full
inclusion when she stated: “I believe that inclusive pedagogy means being able to deal with all the learners in the
classroom, addressing all learners’ needs within same pedagogic space.” These statements indicate that inclusive
pedagogy is understood according to more than one approach to the process of inclusion.
4.1.3 Theme 3: Strategy-oriented versus creativity and flexible teaching
In the operationalizing of pedagogy, the strategy-oriented special-needs discourse puts the teacher at the centre of
pedagogic planning and practice, while full inclusion discourse tends to place the learner at the centre of pedagogic
planning and practice. The two approaches consequently produce divergent thinking with regard to inclusive pedagogy.
For instance, when practioners were asked how they go about operationalizing inclusive pedagogy, it was evident from
their answers that both views referred to previously were prevalent. For instance, one of the practitioners declared: “I
think knowing various strategies for learners with special needs is important, such as multi-level teaching and multiple
intelligence.” By contrast, another practitioner felt that the strategies do not necessarily work in all circumstances: “There
cannot be a one-size-fit- all in pedagogy, one has to respond to the context as it unfolds, and one must take the views of
the learners into consideration when deciding [devising] classroom activities.”
4.2 Research question 2: When can inclusive pedagogy enhance inclusive teaching and learning environments?
The research on which this article is based strongly suggests that pedagogy is pivotal for sustaining an inclusive teaching
and learning environment. However, the sustainability depends on the specific approach to the operationalization of
pedagogy.
4.2.1 Theme 1: Positivism versus constructivism
The approach to pedagogy can determine how inclusive the pedagogy is. It is apparent from the review that, if the
conceptualization of inclusive pedagogy is derived from positivistic, behaviouristic or special-needs discourse, it is likely
to be strategy-oriented and will thus articulate a position that seeks to find fault with the learner rather than with the
pedagogic settings. For instance, there were constant references to strategies by those who articulated pedagogy as
changing the behaviour of the learner by means of a particular strategy; for example, one of the practitioners stated:“ I
apply the strategy of multi-level teaching to address diversity.” By contrast, if the conceptualization is derived from the
constructivist, interactive and full-inclusion discourse, it is likely to assume a stance that positions the learner at the centre
of the pedagogic involvement and participation, thus becoming more inclusive and ensuring social justice for the
vulnerable. For instance, another practitioner stated: “My approach is learner-centred: I believe that learners construct
their own meaning of the learning content and thus they should to a great extend influence how they should be taught.”
The two views show that it is apparent that an inclusive pedagogy can enhance social justice and create an inclusive
environment when the pedagogic practice is not prescriptive and takes into consideration the contribution of learners to
their own learning.
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4.2.2 Theme 2: Teacher-centredness versus learner-centredness
If inclusive, the pedagogy is constructivist in approach, influences the participation of both learners and teachers in the
process of learning, and thus makes learning an inclusive process. This was clear from the positions the practitioners
mentioned as evidenced by statements such as: “… apply the strategy of multi-level teaching to address diversity …”;
“my approach is learner centred, I believe that learners construct their own meaning of the learning content and thus they
should to a great extend influence how they should be taught”.
5. Discussion
The literature indicate that inclusive pedagogy is understood differently and that several aspects have an effect on its
conceptualization. For instance, variables such as context and underlying philosophical assumptions account for the two
main orientations to or views of inclusive pedagogy; that is, special needs education, which is mostly positivist and
advocates a change of behaviour in the learner; and full inclusion, which is more constructivist and privileges learning
through discovery (Artiles and Dyson, 2005; Florian and Kershner, 2009).
It appears that philosophical assumptions influence teaching and learning approaches. This implies that teacher
training in a special needs-oriented approach is positivist-behaviouristic, which means it is teacher-centred. The teaching
seems strategy-oriented as teachers have more authority to determine the approach to teaching and learning. By
contrast, the post-positivistic-constructivist approach to teaching and learning seems to be more learner-centred, thus
providing the learner with the opportunity to be part of the teaching and learning process (Makoelle, 2013).
These two pedagogic positions influence how learning occurs and is facilitated. For instance, a teacher-centred
approach encourages memorization and knowledge assimilation as learners are mostly the passive recipients of
knowledge (Makoelle, 2013). By contrast, a learner-centred position advocates learnings through discovery and regards
learners as contributors to their own learning.
6. Conclusion
While there is a broad consensus on what constitutes an inclusive pedagogy, it is apparent that its conceptualisation
needs to be re-evaluated. The reason is that most teachers base their understanding of the concept on their own their
individual interpretation of what it means, on their position within the philosophy of inclusion, and consequently on their
own pedagogic philosophy and approach. This paper therefore lays the foundation for further discussion on the elusive
and complex concept of inclusive pedagogy.
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... Another research in this field is by [40] who explored inclusive pedagogy with selected inclusive practitioners in one education district of South Africa. The research adopted a qualitative approach. ...
... Similar to [40] study above is the one by [41] who investigated the extent to which teachers at a Full Service School in Soweto understand and practice the principles of a Full Service School by focussing on three teachers in the foundation phase. Classroom observations, individual semi-structured interviews and document analysis were used to generate data. ...
... In a related study to [40] and [41], [42] embarked on a study of framing heuristics in inclusive education among Uganda's preservice teacher education programme. A conceptual vocabulary of frame and qualitative analysis of individual, group interviews and classroom observations were employed. ...
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... Another research in this field is by [40] who explored inclusive pedagogy with selected inclusive practitioners in one education district of South Africa. The research adopted a qualitative approach. ...
... Similar to [40] study above is the one by [41] who investigated the extent to which teachers at a Full Service School in Soweto understand and practice the principles of a Full Service School by focussing on three teachers in the foundation phase. Classroom observations, individual semi-structured interviews and document analysis were used to generate data. ...
... In a related study to [40] and [41], [42] embarked on a study of framing heuristics in inclusive education among Uganda's preservice teacher education programme. A conceptual vocabulary of frame and qualitative analysis of individual, group interviews and classroom observations were employed. ...
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The Dakar World Education Conference (2000) committed governments to ensure that their education systems are inclusive and specifically cater for the needs of disadvantaged, vulnerable and marginalized learners. For Zambia as one of the developing countries, in its Persons with disability Act of 2012, it affirms the government's commitment for persons with disabilities to access an inclusive, quality and free primary, secondary and higher education on an equal basis with others in the communities in which they live. The debates on how best to prepare pre-service teachers for diverse, inclusive classrooms have led to some teacher educators working more closely with schools in trialing new approaches. In this discourse, we explore literature on preparation of pre-service teachers in inclusive pedagogies worldwide. Emerging from this study is the strong emphasis on inclusive pedagogy with a bias on improving the quality of mainstream education and addressing educational inequality among others. The findings contribute to inclusive education policy development in institutions of higher learning and pedagogical practices among others. The study further adds on to scanty literature on inclusive education pedagogies.
... For his part, Makoelle (2014) interviewed six secondary-school teachers who engaged in inclusive pedagogy. The main findings reported by the study indicated that there is no universally-accepted definition of inclusive pedagogy; rather, it's meaning is contextually, philosophically, and operationally determined. ...
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... Although the concept of inclusive education came about as an understanding that equitable and fair education is to be provided to all children, regardless of disability, race, gender, or creed (Makoelle, 2014;Mitchell, 2015), and is premised on human rights and equity (Ainscow, 2005;Gordon, 2013), its misunderstanding can also be a hindrance to its realization, as its conceptualization or definition could be marred by controversy and confusion (Bourke, 2010;Snyder et al., 2001). In some contexts, role players cling to past special education practices, which hamper transition to real inclusion Florian, 2008). ...
... According to the literature, establishing good schoolbased support teams enhances inclusive education practices in schools (Makoelle, 2014;Rulwa-Mnatwana, 2014). The study has indicated that there is a need for Kazakhstani school leadership to develop clear school policies and inclusive education structures (school-based support teams), consistent across all schools (Shevlin et al., 2009). ...
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Kazakhstan has adopted a path to implement inclusive education. As in many other countries of the world, transition to an inclusive education system is not easy and sometimes riddled with anomalies, contradictions, and challenges. This qualitative study takes account of inclusive education in Kazakhstani schools, analyzes the current state of the move toward inclusive education in Kazakhstani schools, discusses achievements to date, highlights some challenges, and makes recommendations on how the implementation of inclusive education in schools could (if necessary) be improved. A generic qualitative research design was used, involving semistructured interviews conducted with school directors, teachers, professionals, and regional representatives of the Department of Education, representatives of the Psychological Medical and Pedagogical Commission, nongovernmental organizations, and parents. The study uses Ainscow’s levers of change as a theoretical lens to analyze the implication of the transition and implementation toward inclusive education in schools. The study was conducted in 12 inclusive schools in one region north and one region south of Kazakhstan. Data were analyzed using an inductive and thematic content analysis framework, from which themes were derived and used to harvest findings and draw some conclusions. Among the findings of the study is that although there has been some shift toward inclusive education, the concept is still not well understood by stakeholders in Kazakhstani schools, as it is currently mainly aimed at disabled children rather than other categories of diversity. Keywords: disability, equity, inclusive education, inclusive pedagogy, special needs, barriers to learning
... Several studies have used qualitative approaches to gather data about subjective inclusion definitions. Makoelle (2014) identified three ways to define inclusion, and Przibilla, Linderkamp, and Krämer (2018) identified 27 categories for teachers' subjective definitions of inclusion and arranged them into nine dimensions. ...
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A review of the academic scholarship provides many different understandings and various ways to define and operationalize inclusion. It stands to reason that practitioners like teachers also have inconsistent concepts of inclusion. Although there is some evidence, that the association between behavior and subjective understandings or beliefs of teachers is stronger than the relationship between academic theories and teachers' behavior, there is a lack of research on tea-chers' subjective definitions of inclusion. The study explores which content-related elements compose teachers' subjective definitions of inclusion as a concept. A subsample of 182 teachers 233 completed an online survey and answered the open-ended item "Define Inclusion in your own words.". The data was analyzed using an inductive qualitative content analysis. Through three iterations of the analysis the answers were summarized in 27 categories (= 0.85) which could be categorized by 15 dimensions (= 0.89). Results show that teachers define inclusion in various ways. Individual subjective definitions even comprise contradictory elements. The categories are related to social, ethical, and school-related issues and also contain affective aspects and (negative) evaluations. The most frequently found categories are related to the topics of participation and membership, or differentiation and individualization. But teachers also describe aversive conditions, insufficient resources and potentially negative consequences of inclusion. The study provides a reliable coding scheme to categorize subjective definitions of teachers and thereby contributes to enhance the measurement of teachers' subjective definitions of inclusion. Methodological implications regarding the systematic consideration of subjective definitions in empirical research on inclusion are discussed.
Conference Paper
A review of the academic scholarship provides many different understandings and various ways to define and operationalize inclusion (Göransson & Nilholm, 2014; Grosche, 2015). It stands to reason that practitioners like teachers also have inconsistent concepts of inclusion. Although there is some evidence, that the association between behavior and subjective understandings or beliefs of teachers is stronger than the relationship between academic theories and teachers’ behavior (Groeben & Scheele, 2010; Helmke, 2015), there is a lack of research on teachers’ subjective definitions of inclusion. The study explores which content-related elements compose teachers’ subjective definitions of inclusion as a concept. A subsample of 182 teachers completed an online survey and answered the open-ended item “Define Inclusion in your own words.”. The data was analyzed using an inductive qualitative content analysis (Mayring, 2015). Through three iterations of the analysis the answers were summarized in 27 categories (κ = 0.85) which could be categorized by 15 dimensions (κ = 0.89). Results show that teachers define inclusion in various ways. Even individual subjective definitions comprise contradictory elements. The categories are related to social, ethical, and school-related issues and also contain affective aspects and (negative) evaluations. The most frequently found categories are related to the topics of participation and membership, or differentiation and individualization. But teachers also describe aversive conditions, insufficient resources and potentially negative consequences of inclusion. The study provides a reliable coding scheme to categorize subjective definitions of teachers and thereby contribute to enhance the measurement of teachers’ subjective definitions of inclusion. Methodological implications regarding the systematic consideration of subjective definitions in empirical research on inclusion are discussed.
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This paper discusses various approaches to the phenomenon of disability in relation to special needs. Ever since disability researchers launched the social model of disability and criticised the field of special education for preserving an understanding of disability in accord with a medical model, the special education field has been in a state of crisis. The implication of this has been the embarrassment of talking about categories and levels of functional difficulty; as well as diagnoses, all of which enable individual assessments necessary for building the IEPs (Individual Educational Plans) and child‐centred teaching within special needs education. The challenge for special needs theorists is to consider the critique of the orthodoxy of special needs education and its understanding of disability, yet at the same time to develop an understanding of disability that can serve as a departure point for working in the field of special needs education. This implies an understanding of the phenomenon of disability, identifying pupils’ needs without contributing to the negative effects that often have come about in the wake of classification, categorisation and labelling in education. The present paper argues for a social relational model of disability as a platform for the enterprise of special needs education. The rationale for the social relational model of disability is that it better conforms to the morality of inclusion because the main issue of the social model, oppression, is not obliterated.
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The SAGE Handbook of Special Education brings together the most up to date knowledge of this area and will serve as the major source book of authoritative information and ideas about current and future directions for special education. It aims to examine the intricate relations between theory, research, and practice, and places a particular emphasis on international policies such as Education for All, and inclusive education as a strategy for achieving it. This comprehensive, research-based work, assembles scholarship on an international level, and covers topics that transcend national boundaries.
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The institutionalization of collaborative working environments is widely considered to be critical to the creation and maintenance of schools as professional learning communities. Prevailing thought suggests that improved student performance may be fully realized only when teachers routinely function as teams and abandon their traditional norms of isolationism and individualism. This interpretive study involving teachers in 45 North Louisiana schools suggests that while some schools and school districts are indeed characterized by elements of the 'learning community' others remain largely mired in customary practices that are counterproductive to realizing the newer collaborative standards. Participating teachers report that, despite the rhetoric, major impediments to joint professional work remain and they make suggestions for better meeting the continuing collaborative challenge.
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The study was initiated to assess the implementation of student-centered teaching of Mathematics and Natural Science subjects in three selected schools in Jimma and the surrounding towns. To this end, classroom observation method was utilized. Accordingly, 40 lessons of 24 teachers were observed. The observation result depicts that teachers were effectively utilizing prior knowledge of learners in starting their lessons. They were also active in making question rich learning environment. On the contrary, they were rated as poor in making classroom environment conducive for group learning. Utilization of learning materials and activities was also rated as low. Subject, school and grade wise comparison put relatively teachers teaching in Jimma University Community school, Chemistry subject and grade nine students on the top but the rest on the other end of the spectrum although there is no statistically significant differences. Based on these findings, recommendations for action including area for further research were forwarded.