Hear it from teachers: Their experiences of and feelings toward inclusion

Year: 2012

Author: Yeo, Lay See

Type of paper: Abstract refereed


In the literature, one of the most critical support factors consistently found to be associated with successful inclusion is teachers' positive attitude (Anderson, Klassen, & Georgiou, 2007; Koutrouba, Vamvakari, & Theodoropoulos, 2008; Yeo, Neihart, Tang, Chong, & Huan, 2011). Not much, however, is known about teachers' first-hand encounter with inclusion in Singapore, which is a newcomer to inclusion. This paper presents findings from a mixed-method study on inclusion in Singapore based on focus group interviews with about 200 teachers from 41 primary schools. The data was transcribed and coded using Interpretive Phenomenological Analysis (Giorgi, 1985) and NVIVO software. Inter-rater reliability was 90%. Three broad categories were identified relating to feelings, experiences, and factors contributing to experiences with inclusion. Out of 659 responses, 39.6% and 60.4% pertained to positive and negative feelings/experiences, respectively. The most dominant negative emotion was feeling stressed and overwhelmed by the experience of coping with challenging pupil behaviors as well as teaching in ways that cater adequately both to pupils with special needs and typically developing pupils in the same classroom. However, the most dominant positive emotion was a sense of satisfaction related to the progress and success of pupils with special needs and the learning teachers derived from the inclusion process. The paper will also shed light on what actually happens during inclusion and provide insight into who benefits from inclusion in Singapore schools. Findings will be discussed in the context of the literature on teachers' experiences with inclusive education.