Date of Conferral



Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)




Dr. Ella Benson


Classroom teachers often experience feelings of ineffectiveness and struggle to meet the needs of students in the inclusion classroom setting within the local school district. Guided by Bandura’s self-efficacy theory, the purpose of this qualitative case study was to investigate elementary teachers’ perceptions of their confidence to teach in the inclusive classroom. Semistructured interviews with a purposeful sample of 7 elementary inclusion teachers (3 general education teachers; 4 special education teachers) from the local district were conducted. Data analysis using open and axial coding revealed 7 emergent themes: (a) need for inclusion-specific professional development and training on differentiated instruction, (b) challenges due to large inclusion class size, (c) resources and support, (d) integration of small group instruction in the inclusion setting, (e) how teachers’ experiences changed their perceptions of and practices within inclusion classrooms, (f) importance of teacher preparedness and pre-service training for inclusion, and (g) teachers’ long-standing perception of low self-efficacy and lack of confidence with respect to inclusion. Results were consistent across general and special education teachers indicating that their experiences and needs for support were similar. Based on these findings, an interactive professional development program pertaining to the unique nature of delivering inclusive education and recommendations for addressing challenges was created. Implications for positive social change include helping to create an education environment in which inclusion teachers are better supported and prepared to provide services to all students in the inclusive education setting, thereby influencing students’ functioning and achievement in a profound, positive manner over time.

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