What were the main aims of the initiative?

An enquiry was undertaken to examine the attitudes of pre-service teachers in Ontario, Canada to look at factors influencing positive attitudes to inclusion.

The purpose/aim of this study was to elicit, illuminate, examine, and report the attitudes of pre-service teachers towards inclusion.


Location, setting, Scope, key events etc.

This work took place in North Bay (population 55,000) Northern eastern section of Ontario (province), Canada, North America.

The preparation of teachers has been examined broadly and deeply within the last decade by many researchers (Mdikana, Ntshangase, & Mayekiso, 2007; Shippen, Crites, Houchins, Ramsey, & Simon, 2005) globally and specifically within North America.

North American investigators have produced several key realizations for instance, Shippen, et al., revealed that pre-service teachers receive limited training and experience with inclusion therefore they carry forward a lack of confidence when confronted with such challenges in practice. Similarly, Woloshyn, Bennett and Berrill (2003) found that pre-service educator’s attitudes were positive yet participants indicated that more study of special education should be included in pre-service curricula. Pre-service teachers also wanted more opportunity in practicum and beyond with inclusive teacher/mentors who could model techniques.


What issues/challenges does the example address?

Within this inquiry our understanding was aimed at the professional educator’s attitudes (cognition) which we believed to influence both physical actions (behaviour) and affect (emotions) of the pre-service educator. To examine this without bias was both a challenge and hurdle to overcome.

An attitude was defined as a multidimensional trait comprised of three components: cognition (beliefs, knowledge), affect (emotional), and behaviour (overt action) (Bohner & Wanke, 2002; Haddock & Maio, 2004).



How was the Initiative implemented?

How was the initiative implemented?

During the Special Education training course students completed 72 hours of instruction Together students and instructors explored various exceptionalities, teaching strategies, competencies, legislative dictums, program planning and other issues related to teaching and learning with special needs students in inclusive classrooms.

Who worked on and sustained the initiative (key partnerships)?

Four university professors who focused on the theory and practice underlying special education in the province of Ontario. This initiative took place during the Spring session of 2009.

KEY OUTCOMES & Lessons Learned

What where the key Outcomes? What impact/added value did they prove? What were the biggest challenges?

Our inquiry has determined that our sample of Ontario pre-service teachers do believe they have the necessary prerequisite training and knowledge to be inclusive educators in future. Our pre-service participants also indicated that they believe inclusion is effective and produces the required results for both identified and non-identified students. Participants further indicated that the effort to be an inclusive teacher made it a difficult proposition nonetheless it was dependent upon several key supporting elements such as time, resources, facilities, and personnel.

We also learned that pre-service educators in this inquiry saw time (preparation and instruction) as being critical. They noted that they may not have enough time to be truly inclusive yet most suggested that inclusion makes them want to experiment with instructional modes and only a minority suggested they did not have a positive experience with inclusion. Most believed they would be included in planning for inclusion however, not all pre-service educators believed they were, or would be included in planning for inclusion in schools or classrooms in the future.


Has the initiative been evaluated or are there plans for this in the future?

No information available


Have any plans been made for future direction of the initiative?

The next step is to follow pre-service teachers into full time positions to see if intentions and attitudes become teaching practices. However, this requires funding which is currently not in place.



Are there further information about supporting materials?


Bohner, G., & Wanke, M. (2002). Attitudes and attitude change. New York, NY: Psychology Press.

Haddock, G., & Maio, G. (Eds). (2004). Contemporary perspectives on the psychology of attitudes. New York, NY: Psychology Press.

Mdikana, A., Ntshangase, S., & Mayekiso, T. (2007) Pre-service educators’ attitudes towards inclusive education. International Journal of Education, 22 (1), 125-131.

Woloshyn, V. Bennett, S., Berrill, D. (2003) Working with students who have learning disabilities –teacher candidates speak out: Issues and concerns with pre-service education and professional development. Exceptionality Education Canada, 13 910 7-28

Additional references are available to download here (PDF, 154 KB)


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Dr. Thomas G. Ryan,

Associate Professor - Graduate Studies, Nipissing University, Faculty of Education, 100, College Drive, North Bay, Ontario, Canada. P1B 8LY

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