Short term dissemination workshops: Can a small dose make a big difference?

Year: 2002

Author: Stefanich, Greg

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

This report presents findings of short-term one time staff development workshops on inclusive teaching in science classrooms. This study investigates k-12 teachers, special educators and administrators in the area of teaching science to students with disabilities. Data came from four surveys: 1) three surveys conducted in 2002 included participants in workshops from 12-40 hours in different formats, and 2) a survey conducted with non-participant educators. Statistical analysis reveals that all three treatment groups were significantly different from the non-treatment group. Significant differences were not found between the three treatment groups. Regardless of the workshop format and certification or teaching areas, attendees had more positive attitudes toward teaching science for each of the four areas investigated: Attitudes About Students, Work-Related Dispositions, Post-Secondary Dispositions, and Work-Related Performance.

Narrative comments indicate the participants made changes in instructional strategies, made laboratories and outdoor areas accessible, and modified assessment approaches based on the knowledge acquired in the workshop. A number of the respondents indicated they helped other professionals or worked directly with students to develop self-advocacy skills, delivered of pre-service and in-service workshops, taught courses for peers and pre-service teachers, made presentations at meetings and conferences, engaged in grant activities, and participated in research and curriculum development activities following their workshop attendance. Increased collaboration was especially strong among those in Group A who participated as a workshop team.

The evidence from this study indicated that short-term dissemination workshops can significantly impact educators' preparedness, responsiveness to make accommodations, and attitudes towards including students with disabilities in regular classrooms. For many, the workshop experience encouraged them to share their talents and abilities with others to better educate all students.