Proposal Title

Inclusive Education: Teaching in Academically Diverse Classrooms

Proposal Abstract

This article describes a process and provides a rationale for the implementation of Problem Based Learning (PBL) in preservice teacher education classes. Problem Based Learning is a particular instance of Case Based Pedagogy. In this article, a PBL template and instructional model are introduced with two (2) scenarios using the progressive disclosure approach. The template and PBL process are designed to enhance higher order, critical thinking skills in the teacher candidates in a relevant and collaborative manner. Student responses to one of the scenarios, drawn from actual classroom activity and focusing on the salient features of the scenario are provide in a table format. Outcomes identified by the authors over a 12 year period related to enhanced student performance are provided.

Full Proposal

This proposed text is based on the position that teachers of students with disabilities must be analytical “problem solvers” to facilitate optimum outcomes in those they serve. It is also grounded in the perspective that the “Plan-Do-Study-Adjust” process is at the heart of effective intervention with students who possess disabilities. Teachers of student with disabilities must assume a clinical orientation, in addition to their role as instructor, to adequately address individual learning problems and design appropriate interventions.

The authors are of the opinion that Problem Based Learning (PBL) offers a viable means of developing those skills critical to effective intervention for students with disabilities in pre-service teachers. Research has indicated that : 1) many teachers enter the profession lacking several skills critical to their efficacy (Blackbourn, Baum, & Shaw, 1991; Carnine, 1997) and 2) the Problem Based Learning approach provides the opportunity for teacher educators to closely monitor the progress of pre-service teacher candidates in acquiring those skills for effective intervention and provide ongoing corrective feedback to them (Duch, Groh, & Allen, 2001; Evenson&Hmelo, 2000; Levin, 2001; Torp & Sage, 2002). Our basic assumption is that instructional strategies which require students to solve “real world problems” (even in a simulated setting) initiates those higher order cognitive processes related to analysis, synthesis, and evaluation. The activities contained within this text require students to engage the content knowledge base at the upper levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy (e.g. application, analysis, synthesis, and evaluation). In this manner the proposed text differs significantly from other instructional methods texts which tend to focus on objectives at the lower levels of Knowledge and Comprehension.

Problem Based Learning has a long and well documented history of successful implementation in other professional disciplines. Medicine, Law, Dentistry, and Veterinary Medicine all incorporate the PBL approach to some extent in their professional training process (Barrows, 1986; 1992; Barrows & Kelson, 1995). From problem scenarios in Diagnostic Training for veterinary interns to “moot court” for third year law students, PBL is an established instructional practice.

Our experience in using Problem Based Learning in our undergraduate special education methods classes over the past five (5) years has provided both objective and subjective data to reinforce our primary assumptions. Results of our efforts include: 1) significantly higher Praxis II scores (averaging over 20 points higher) among our students as compared to previous classes who weren’t exposed to PBL; 2) greater satisfaction with instruction and course content reported among our students as compared to previous classes; 3) a wider range of intervention skills observed in our students during field placements as compared to previous classes; 4) a more complex understanding of the various disabilities and how to analyze and intervene on an individual basis observed among our students as compared to prior classes; 5) a more satisfying and successful student teaching experience reported among our students as compared to previous classes; 6) an increased critical analysis of potential employers, their approach to serving persons with disabilities, and a more discriminating approach to accepting a teaching position observed among our students as compared to prior classes; and 7) greater satisfaction reported among employers concerning the teaching performance of our students as compared to prior classes.

The proposed text provides an outline for teacher educators to incorporate Problem Based Learning into both their Methods of Inclusion and/or Methods for Students with High Incidence Disabilities courses. It provides the basic information on special education law as it relates to the Least Restrictive Environment and Free Appropriate Public Education, each major, high incidence disability category, the necessary information on diagnostic, assessment, and referral to placement processes, as well as critical information on commonly used assessment instruments and Individual Education Plans. Even though this information is included, we do not envision this text as being in competition with existing survey, special education law, or assessment texts in special education. We see the text as competing with Inclusion textbooks (such as Bartlett, Etscheidt, & Weisenstein, 2007), Methods for Mild Disabilities textbooks (such as Smith, Polloway, Patton, & Dowdy, 2006), and Combination textbooks (such as Colorusso & O’Rourke, 2007). The information on each disability category, assessment instruments, legal requirements, and referral to placement is included simply to enhance the PBL learning activities.

The text further provides a Case Study from the perspective of inclusion teachers for each major disability category and that of a school administrator, a series of Problem Based Learning activities, and a Facilitator’s Guide for each Case Study. By using the information on the specific disabilities, assessment instruments, and referral to placement process as a reference to the Problem Based learning activities, the student can find the information critical to successfully completing these activities in an easily understandable and readily available form.

Location

Room 2903

Publication Type and Release Option

Presentation (Open Access)

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Nov 2nd, 10:00 AM Nov 2nd, 10:45 AM

Inclusive Education: Teaching in Academically Diverse Classrooms

Room 2903

This article describes a process and provides a rationale for the implementation of Problem Based Learning (PBL) in preservice teacher education classes. Problem Based Learning is a particular instance of Case Based Pedagogy. In this article, a PBL template and instructional model are introduced with two (2) scenarios using the progressive disclosure approach. The template and PBL process are designed to enhance higher order, critical thinking skills in the teacher candidates in a relevant and collaborative manner. Student responses to one of the scenarios, drawn from actual classroom activity and focusing on the salient features of the scenario are provide in a table format. Outcomes identified by the authors over a 12 year period related to enhanced student performance are provided.