Teacher training traditionally presents disability as deficit. However, purposeful, critical redesign of just one course can transform future teachers’ beliefs about disability, inclusion, and justice.
Teacher Education, Disability, Beliefs
Historically, teacher training has pathologized disability as deficit rather than conceptualizing disability as a social construct. In this study, we revised the undergraduate education course on teaching students with disabilities in order to challenge such deficit-based perspectives and ableism. Seventy-six students completed pre- and post-course surveys measuring their beliefs about disability and attitudes toward inclusion. After completing the redesigned course, students’ beliefs shifted away from the dominant medical model and toward the justice-oriented social model of disability. Further, students’ valuation of inclusion and self-efficacy regarding teaching students with disabilities significantly increased. These findings have implications for reimagining inclusive teacher education.
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HEAR IT FROM THE AUTHOR:
Hi, my name is Jordan Lukins and I am a teacher educator.
At my university, I teach the one and only course that elementary and secondary education
majors take that is focused on disability and special education. During the fall semester of 2022,
I redesigned this course to challenge traditional deficit-oriented views of disability. Instead of
simply learning a set of diagnoses, characteristics, and interventions, students critically reflected
on concepts like ableism, disability-related language, and accessibility. We discussed the
disability rights movement, watched the documentary Crip Camp, read perspectives written by
disabled authors, and critically analyzed the portrayal of disability in different forms of media.
The QR code includes links to lots of resources that I used in the redesign.
Across my 4 class sections, 76 students completed pre and post course surveys measuring
their beliefs and attitudes. The results showed positive changes, with students reporting more
critical perspectives on the nature of disability, affirming the benefits of inclusion, and endorsing
inclusion over segregated education. And, not only did their dispositions change by the end of
the semester, but students also shared that they felt significantly more prepared to lead an
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2- Explain the benefits of hands-on learning for a complex topic such as computer architecture.
3- Assess student success and summarize student attitudes and outcomes related to concept-understanding, self-learning, retention and teamwork.