Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository

Degree

Doctor of Education

Program

Education

Supervisor(s)

Dr. Vicki Schwean

Abstract

One of the most critical factors in changing teachers’ attitudes toward inclusive education practices is the way in which the school leader, that is a principal or vice-principal, actively and consistently demonstrates a positive attitude towards an inclusive school culture (Leithwood, Begley, & Cousins, 1992). Specific types of behaviors by leaders may be more important than others in assisting teachers to develop their own attitudes concerning inclusive education. This convergent parallel mixed-methods study was designed to permit a comparison of rural Ontario elementary school leaders and teachers in a) their attitudes toward teaching students with mild to moderate disabilities and b) their perceptions of the value of school leader behaviors that support inclusive practices. Attitudes were assessed using the Attitudes Toward Teaching All Students with Mild to Moderate Disabilities instrument (Gregory & Noto, 2012). School leaders’ behaviors were rated using items from the Louisiana Validated Practices Initiative (Louisiana Department of Education, 2005). A positive association was observed between participants’ attitudes and their ratings of the importance of specific behaviors of school leaders.

Responses to an open-ended question soliciting reasons why leader behaviors are important were assessed using keyword in context analysis to observe patterns and themes. School leaders’ comments were related to the social justice foundations of inclusive education, while teachers’ comments related more to behaviors that support the practical implementation of inclusive education practices. The results of this study may assist school leaders to become aware of those behaviors that are most valued by teachers and other school leaders.


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