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INSTRUCTIONAL SKILL NEEDS OF TEACHERS FOR INCLUSIVE CLASSROOM IN PRIMARY SCHOOLS

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CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

Background to the Study

Education of persons with special needs is going inclusive after several years of exclusivist and separatist paradigm. The change in approach came as a result of a number of influence. Chief among them were the paradigm shift from defect to social model and the UN education programmes (Ozoji, 2008). The defect or “within-child model” is based on the assumption that the origin of learning difficulties lie largely within the child. The social model on the other hand is based on the proposition that society and its institutions account for the child’s impairment (Okeke Oti, 2010). The social model posits that society and its institutions are oppressive, discriminatory and disabling and that if any change is to be effected, attention needs to be focused on the removal of obstacles to the participation of people with disability in the life of the society and in changing institutions, regulations and attitudes that create and maintain exclusion (Mittler, 2000).

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Inclusion is educational arrangement that deemphasizes exclusion and emphasizes the restructuring of instructions (schools), classrooms, and approached to instruction to address and meet diverse needs of all children (Okeke-Oti, 2009). The broad definition of inclusion was that given by UNESCO (2005). It defined inclusion as:

A process of addressing and responding to the diversity of needs of all learners through increasing participation in learning, cultures and communities and reducing exclusion within and from education. It involves changes and modifications in content, approaches, structures and strategies, with a common vision which covers all children of the appropriate age range and a conviction that it is the responsibilities of the regular system to educate all children p:12).

 

This implies that inclusion accommodates all learners whether such learners are disabled or not

Inclusion is the process of addressing the diverse needs of all learners through increasing participation of all learners in neighbourhood schools with matching support (Okeke-Oti; 2010).  Okuoyibo (2001) asserted that inclusion means bringing students with disabilities regardless of the nature and severity of their disabilities into all placement activities of general education such as schools, classrooms and the surrounding communities. Further, Okuoyibo explained that the thrust of the matter on inclusion is that children with disabilities should be unconditionally mainstreamed into the regular education system without regard to the nature and severity of their disabilities. Ojogwu (2005) observed that the nature of inclusiveness requires that all learners regardless of disability be educated in the same classroom. The emphasis of inclusion therefore, is to give everybody in the society an equal opportunity to benefit from formal education programme.

Inclusive education denotes three or more shades of meaning according to Ozoji (2005). First, it entails enabling all learners to participate fully in the life and work of mainstream setting. Second, it conveys a continuing process of breaking down barriers to learning and participation for all children and young people. Third, it implies a right to belong to the mainstream or a joint undertaking to and discrimination and to work toward equal opportunities for all pupils and students. Hence, Ozoji (2005) defined inclusive education as an education option or programme carefully designed to educate learners with diverse needs within the re-structured mainstream or school, regardless of their strengths and weaknesses in any area and become part of the school community.

Similarly, the Centre for Studies on Inclusive Education (2002) of the University of Bristol, England, stated that inclusive education means that all children and young people, with or without disabilities or difficulties should learn together in ordinary pre-school provision, schools, colleges and Universities with appropriate networks of support. In the context of this study, inclusive education is taken to refer to the participation of all primary school pupils in a general curriculum. The researcher is aware that inclusive education goes beyond special needs children but this study does not include such other categories of children as those with legal confinement, ethnic minorities and those with social stigmas.

One of the arguments in favour of inclusive education is the realization that every individual is unique, hence the focus must be on the individual and not on the subjects. According to Deiner (1999), if all children are part of regular settings and all children participate in the general curriculum, then all educators need to know sufficient techniques to care for and educate all children. (Unachukwu, Ozoji & Ifelunni, 2008). Inclusive education programme is planned to meet individual educational needs. Specifically, inclusive education has the following goals according to Ozoji (2005);

  • to provide education for children with diverse learning needs within the re-structured school community,
  • to make special needs children active members of the school community and then
  • to help them achieve quality education outcomes based on their individual Education Programme (IEP’s)
  • to achieve social competence,
  • to build a supportive school community that is able to identify and minimize barriers to learning and participation,
  • to educate more children better,
  • to ensure successful learning and social experience and competence,
  • to empower children who are hitherto excluded or isolated,
  • to enable students to participate in mainstream education to the best of their abilities,
  • to build inclusive schools that can respond to diverse needs,
  • to study the pressures that lead some people in schools to feel excluded and separated,
  • to attend imaginatively to diverse learning needs in the classroom,
  • to provide education for children with diverse learning needs within the re-structured school community,
  • to make special needs children active members of the school community and then
  • to help them achieve quality education outcomes based on their individual Education Programme (IEP’s)
  • to achieve social competence,
  • to build a supportive school community that is able to identify and minimize barriers to learning and participation,
  • to educate more children better,
  • to ensure successful learning and social experience and competence,
  • to empower children who are hitherto excluded or isolated,
  • to enable students to participate in mainstream education to the best of their abilities,
  • to build inclusive schools that can respond to diverse needs,
  • to study the pressures that lead some people in schools to feel excluded and separated,
  • to attend imaginatively to diverse learning needs in the classroom,
  • to ensure improvement of student learning outcomes,
  • to develop exemplar units of planning for diversity and to dismantle barriers to access and participation and in the end facilitate achievement in schooling and training.

to ensure improvement of student learning outcomes,

  • to develop exemplar units of planning for diversity and to dismantle barriers to access and participation and in the end facilitate achievement in schooling and training. P:126

Inclusive education takes place in an inclusive classroom where teachers, learners and other paraprofessionals interact to achieve individual learner’s educational goals. It is an active learning environment where every learner is participating in the classroom activities (Onwubolu & Edozie, 2011). The authors further see inclusive classroom as a classroom where learning often happens in small groups with peer helping and supporting each other. It is also a classroom that is student centred and has a high level of responsibility for creativity in their community. Inclusive classroom is concerned with a system of education which offers every member of the society an equal opportunity to acquire basic education in the regular school environment (Chukwu, 2006). This implies that everybody in a given society has a right to be educated in the regular school irrespective of his or her mental or physical status or condition. In other words, in a society where inclusion is practiced, disability is not a barrier for an individual to attain the desired education in the same environment with his or her able bodied counterparts.

An inclusive classroom is a programme in which all available resources are collaboratively utilized to meet the educational needs and challenges of all children who reside in its attendant area. Furthermore, inclusive classroom have strong site based management and teaching teams when jointly plan, implement and evaluate their educational programmes.

As a working definition in this study therefore, an inclusive classroom is a place where everyone with or without special needs belong, is accepted, and is supported by their peers and other members of the school community in the course of having his or her educational needs met.

For inclusion to be successful in the classroom therefore, there is the need for teachers to acquire skills necessary to handle all categories of children with needs. Teachers need to find out how to work with each child rather than assuming someone also will tell them how to do it. Teachers need to know a variety of instructional strategies and how to use them effectively. Teachers in an attempt to ensure maximum participation of pupils in classroom apply certain instructional skills for effective teaching and learning.

These instructional skill needs of teachers are essential for inclusive classroom to function effectively. To understand instructional skills properly there is the need for us to understand the concept of instruction. Instruction has been defined and described differently by different authors in the area of education. Kpangbon & Onwuegbu (2004) describe instruction as the process of communicating information to the learner, stimulating relevant learning activities, evaluating the result of these activities and taking remedial action if necessary.  Okeke (2006) also perceived instruction as the process of passing on information from a more knowledgeable person (instructor) to a less knowledgeable person. In the process of instruction, the instructor, through order, command or direction, requires the learner to perform certain tasks or operation. The idea of instruction, judging from the view of Okeke, can be explained in terms of “drill”. A command is given and there is compliance implying the stimulus response process of learning. Instruction in the context of this study therefore, is the process of communicating information to the pupils, stimulating relevant learning activities, evaluating the result of these activities and taking remedial action if necessary by teachers in inclusive classroom.

Instructional skills according to Kpangban & Onwuegbu (1992) are patterns adopted by teachers to interact with their subjects. It is the knowledge and ability the teacher uses to communicate with the students. According to Romiszowski (2004) instructional skills is described as the process teachers use to communicate information to the learner, stimulating relevant learning activities and taking remedial action.

Further, instructional skills according to Saylor & Alexander (2004) includes; assessment skills, (that is ability and knowledge of the teacher to assess the learner) communication skills, (that is ability to interact with the learner) management skills, (that is the ability to control human and material resources) motivational skills (that is the ability to arouse the moral of the learner) and evaluation skills (that is the ability to ascertain whether learning has taken place). Assessment skills are knowledge and ability of the teachers to consider and judge students in the classroom (Okeke, 1996). Assessment skill as part of the instructional skills are an attempt to find out the strengths and weaknesses or the effectiveness of a programme (Anagbogu, 2005). Assessment skills are the knowledge and ability of teachers to determine the strengths and weakness of the learners.

In communication skills, teachers ought to pass on veritable lesson objectives to the leaner are yet another instructional skill needs of teachers for inclusive classroom. Smith (2005) explained that communication skills are the ability of the teacher to understand what the learner is trying to express and being able to express him/her self to the learner. Through communication skills the teacher is able to clarify his feeling about the topic being taught. In management skills however, Dececco & Crawford (2004)  explained that management skills are the process or act of controlling or organizing lesson which the teacher adopt to enhance learning. The classroom teacher needs the management skill to be able to organize the learners for effective instruction. In Motivation skills (Anagbogu, 2005) sees it as inner drive or compulsion that is not easily noticeable. Motivation has to do with the struggle to achieve a goal. Motivation skills are the inner drive of teachers which enable them to achieve their goal.  All these skills according to Dearden (2003) are needed for teaching and learning to be effective. Instructional skills therefore, in this present study is the teaching strategies or plans adopted by teachers to ensure that children reach their potentials.

The teacher according to Maduewesi (1999) needs a sound knowledge of the psychological theories related to learning and human behaviour. The teacher should be familiar with such concepts as, communication skills, reinforcement, motivation, attitude, readiness, peer approval, self-concept, retention of knowledge and many others. The teacher needs a sound knowledge of these terms to enable her understand and interpret the behaviour of children in the classroom. Taking reinforcement as an example, the teacher should understand that when a learner receives even verbal rewards such as ‘excellent’, ‘well done’, ‘good answer’, among others, these serve as reinforcement and encourage the child to try and give some more correct answers in future. The knowledge of these concepts enable the teacher to react appropriately to pupil behaviour.

Another factor to consider in the instructional skills needs of teachers in inclusive classroom is gender. Gender plays an important role in teachers’ instructional outcome. Male teachers have been found to be more skillful than their female counterpart (Nwafor, 2000). Gender is the condition of being masculine or feminine through one’s behaviour (Sinclair, 1996). This means there are behaviour meant for male and there are the ones meant for female. For example, in the traditional Igbo society, males are expected to be strong and assertive while females are expected to be soft and sensitive (Guinand & Lemessa, 2000). Obasi (2004) refers to gender as many social and cultural constructed characteristics, qualities, behaviour and roles which different societies ascribed to male and female.  But in the present study gender refers to the manifestation of instructional skills needs by male and female teachers for inclusive classroom. Previous research suggested that male regular teachers and female regular teachers are likely to differ in their type of instructional skills. Female regular teachers are more likely to discriminate than the male regular teachers in their teaching in the classroom (Nwafor, 2002). Hosever, Jacklin & Lacey (1997) perceived that male regular teachers exhibit good organisational and grouping strategies than their counterparts. It is for this points that the study investigated the influence of gender on the instructional skill for inclusive classroom.

However, it has also been confirmed by Aluko (1992) and Anagbogu (2000) that teachers in the cities perform better than their counterparts in the rural areas in terms of techniques and skillful ways of teaching. Aluko asserts that facilities and high expectation in urban locations to perform is high in teaching and learning. Location refers to the place where a school is sited. It is called the geographic location of the school (Jones, 2002). A location is a place, especially the place where something happens or is situated (Sinclair, 1996). Some secondary schools and primary schools in Ebonyi state are located in urban areas while some are located in the rural areas. Here, urban area means township or metropolitan part of Ebonyi state. Rural areas here mean local areas or an underdeveloped part of Ebonyi state. Teachers in urban areas may perform better than those in rural areas in terms of instructional skills. Based on the forgoing, the study investigated the influences of location on the instructional skills of teachers for inclusive classroom.

In Ebonyi state primary schools, inclusive classroom appears to be relatively new among teachers. It has been observed by researchers like Efobi (1999) that the level of awareness of inclusive classroom in primary schools in Ebonyi state is quite negative and alarming hence denying special needs children equal access to education.  Ozoji, (2003), Okeke, (2004), Nwazuoke, (2004) have also pointed to the acute negativity with which Nigerians treat the different categories of special needs children: the hard of hearing, the people with visual impairment, among others. The researchers have also shown that both the society and government have not done much to lessen the burden of these less fortunate members of the society. This shows that they are treated as “burdens” of society with little or no facilities provided for them to afford them the opportunity of realizing their potentials in inclusive classroom. To ameliorate this ugly situation, teachers need to acquire instructional skills to enable them meet the challenges of inclusive classroom. It is against this background, that the present study investigated the instructional skills needs of teachers for inclusive classroom in Ebonyi state primary schools.

Statement of the Problem

In spite of the general global yearning for high quality education for inclusive classroom, there is an apparent realization by stakeholders that the quality of instruction has declined considerably especially in the primary school classrooms. The quality of training and retraining provided for teachers were not adequate to ensure optimum service delivery as an assurance to nation building and the realization of the vision of inclusive classroom. Similarly, the quality of instruction of teachers in primary school was out of sync with the objective of inclusive classroom. Inclusive classroom, concerned with a system of education which offers every member of the society an equal opportunity to acquire basic education in the regular school environment is not achieving the expected objective as a result of poor teachers’ instructional skills.

The public perception therefore is that public primary school teachers’ instructional skills are low and standard have dropped. Public primary school teachers are presumed to be unable to boost their instructional skills and as a result, they perform poorly. However, teachers in primary schools were found not to have requisites instructional skills to discharge their duties for effective teaching in inclusive classroom. The causes of failures of the instructional outcomes of primary school teachers have been attributed to diverse factors. Review of empirical works, showed that some works have been carried out in some related areas to the study at hand, for instance many studies associated with inclusive classroom and special needs children have been done. However, none of the works available to the researcher seem to have focused on the instructional skill needs of teachers and special need educators for inclusive classroom. As a result of this, all educators need to have the knowledge of these instructional skills for effective teaching in inclusive classroom. It is against this backdrop that the problem of this study was posed into question form narrowed to: what are the instructional skill needs of teachers and special educators for inclusive classroom in Ebony State primary schools?.

Purpose of the Study

The main purpose of this study is to investigate the instructional skill needs of teachers for inclusive classroom in Ebonyi state primary schools.

Specifically, the study:-

  1. Determined the instructional assessment skill needs of teachers and special educators for inclusive classroom.
  2. Determined the instructional communication skill needs of teachers and special educators for inclusive classroom.
  3. Ascertain the instructional management skill needs of teachers and special educators for inclusive classroom.
  4. The motivational instructional skill needs of teachers for inclusive classroom.

Significance of the Study

The findings of this study will be of great significance both theoretically and practically to policy makers, curriculum planners, teacher and school management board.

Theoretically, in the area of special education, the findings of the study will provide data that may be useful for clear understanding of the existing theories of teaching and behaviour modification. The study will provide data which will provide the functionality or otherwise of human relation theory and theory of human motivation and social learning theory. The study is therefore anchored on all the theories because of their relevance to the study.

Practically, the finding of this study were of immense benefit to policy makers, curriculum planners and teachers. The findings of this study provided empirical data for policy makers on instructional skills needs by teachers for inclusive classroom. This could enable them make policy statement relevant to teachers’ possession of the needed skills before employment to teach in inclusive classroom.

If the curriculum planners are informed of the findings of the study, it would enable them modify existing curriculum coverage for teachers’ preparation for inclusive classroom. This could as well make the modification to take care of areas of challenges as identified.

Equally, the findings of the study will benefit teachers as these would help them to be informed of the instructional skills needed to be able to teach children with special needs in their classroom. Special Educators can begin to explore these instructional skill needs on their own prior to organized preparation programme for their acquisition. Sensitization workshop would be organised for teachers to update their knowledge on the instructional skills required of them to accommodate children with special needs in regular classroom.

Finally, the findings of this study when documented and published will add to the stock of existing knowledge in the area of inclusive education and the instructional skill needs of regular teachers which will be disseminated through workshops, learned journals, conferences and internet postings.

Scope of the Study

The present study focused on the instructional skill needs of teachers for inclusive classroom in Ebonyi state primary schools. In addition, gender and location as variables in this study were explored to establish their influence on instructional skills. The independent variables are the instructional skill needs of teachers while the dependent variable is the teachers outcome of instructional skills on pupils in inclusive classroom. So, the researcher focused on the instructional skill needs of teachers for successful inclusive classroom in Ebonyi state primary schools.

Research Questions

The following four research questions guided the study:

  1. What are the instructional assessment skill needs of teachers and special educators for inclusive classroom?
  2. What are the communication instructional skill needs of teachers for inclusive classroom?
  3. What are the management instructional skill needs of teachers for inclusive classroom?
  4. What are the motivational instructional skill needs of teachers for inclusive classroom?

 

 

 

Hypotheses

The under listed hypotheses were tested at 0.05 level of significance.

H01:   There is no significant difference between the mean scores of male and female teachers on the instructional skill needs for inclusive classroom.

H02:   There is no significant difference between the mean scores of regular teachers and special educators on the instructional skill needs for inclusive classroom in urban and rural areas.

H03:   There is no significant difference between the mean scores of regular teachers and special educators

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