Inclusive pedagogy for diverse learners: Science instruction, disability, and the community college
The following study examined the use of inclusive pedagogy by science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) faculty at three community colleges. The study was developed in response to a gap in existing knowledge about inclusive instruction in two-year colleges. The purpose was to identify barriers to the adoption of inclusive teaching methods for diverse learners and students with disabilities, and to propose ways to break down these barriers. Three research questions designed for the study asked about (a) the current teaching styles and methods of curriculum delivery used by community college STEM faculty, (b) the levels of awareness and knowledge of community college STEM faculty about inclusive teaching practices, and (c) the personal, attitudinal, and environmental factors that inhibit community college STEM faculty from using inclusive pedagogical practices to better serve students with disabilities and other diverse students. A sequential method was used to obtain both quantitative and qualitative data regarding instructional practices, pedagogical knowledge, and beliefs about teaching and learning. Two hundred and eleven STEM faculty members responded to a questionnaire that was administered electronically and 11 faculty members were interviewed, 9 of whom were observed in the classroom. Findings revealed that a significant number of these community college faculty members have an inclusive mindset and believe in adapting their instruction in order to accommodate learner differences. These faculty members also appear more knowledgeable about pedagogical practices than what has been reported in previous literature about four-year faculty. Many of the faculty members are using multimodal instructional methods. However, a significant gap still exists between what they believe and know and what is actually put into instructional practice. A number of barriers that prohibit the use and development of inclusive practices were identified in this study. The most significant among the barriers reported were the lack of an inclusive mindset, lack of knowledge about pedagogy, high teaching loads, and lack of time for instructional development. Implications for practice, policy, and research are discussed.
0275: Community colleges
0529: Special education
0714: Science education