Towards inclusive education : exploring perceptions of natural science pre-service teachers in a B. Ed Programme
De Nysschen, Anne-Marie
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This research study aimed to explore the perceptions of Natural Science pre-service teachers in a B.Ed Programme regarding their training for inclusive education. In order to ensure that current and future pre-service teacher education programmes prepare undergraduate pre-service teacher adequately for the practice of teaching in an inclusive classroom, the Departments of Basic Education (DBE) and Higher Education and Training (DHET) have requested several South African Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) to focus on determining how inclusive education can be infused into their B.Ed Programmes. This research study was a sub-study within the broader project. The HEI where this study was conducted recently completed one cycle of the implementation of the revised B.Ed Programme and therefore it was important to explore how pre-service teachers perceive their training for inclusive education in their teacher education programmes. This research study specifically focused on the Natural Sciences (NS) pre-service teachers currently in the B.Ed Programme at a specific HEI. A qualitative research design was employed within an interprevtivist paradigm and a case study research was used as the strategy of inquiry. The lived experience of the participants in this research study included the perceptions of fourth year NS pre-service teachers currently in a B.Ed Programme at a specific HEI regarding their training for inclusive education. For the data collection instruments document analysis, online open-ended questionnaires and online focus group interviews was implemented. A thematic analysis was done and constantly compared during the analysis and interpretation process. The findings of the literature review and the document analysis has shown that a number of national policies are in place that provide guidance to HEIs and Initial Teacher Education (ITE) programme developers regarding the essential knowledge and skills needed in the training of pre-service teachers for inclusive education. However, inclusive education is mainly addressed in a few generic, stand alone modules and does not appear to be infused into the entire B.Ed curriculum, including the NS specialisation subject as part of the didactics and methodology. The exposure to inclusive education in the generic modules has led the participants to define it as based on equality, non-discrimination and inclusion all learners. Some of the other key findings show that the participants seem satisfied with the theoretical knowledge they have obtained throughout their studies but they feel that they need more practical exposure and experience on how to deal with a diversity of learning needs. What was also notable in the findings is that the pre-service teachers indicated that they do not have sufficient, in-depth knowledge of Education White Paper 6 and the Screening, Identification, Assessment and Support (SIAS) policy which are two critical documents for preparing pre-service teachers adequately for inclusive education.
- Education