Hastings, R.P., Hewes, A., Lock, S. and Witting, A.
Do special education needs courses have any impact on student teachers' perceptions of children with severe learning difficulties?
British Journal of Special Education, 23, (3), . (doi:10.1111/j.1467-8578.1996.tb00965.x).
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Teachers' perceptions of their pupils are likely to have significant effects on children's performance and self-concepts. Previous research on expectations of, and attitudes towards, pupils with severe learning difficulties (SLD) has generally shown that teachers perceive such children less positively than nondisabled children. One of the methods that practitioners and researchers have used to influence teachers' perceptions of children with SLD is an education or information-based approach. In the present study, 100 female student teachers completed questionnaires that measured their attributions, expectations, behavioural intentions and emotional responses to children with SLD. The results showed that there were very few differences in the perceptions of students who had completed the Special Educational Needs (SEN) module of their training course compared with students who had not yet completed the module. However, those students with higher levels of previous contact with children with SLD were generally more positive than those with little or no previous experience. The implications of the present findings for teacher training in SEN are discussed. In addition, methodological implications for research on the evaluation of mainstreaming and other research involving the measurement of teachers' perceptions of children are highlighted.
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