Supporting in service teacher learning in spec ed

Special education in Ontario has been underserved by resources and updateable research. The resources that exist are not coordinated and there is no central information system, research journal, or text that can supply ‘just-in-time’ delivery about working with students with special learning needs to educators in Ontario.

Project Category:
Strengthening research brokering work
Topic Area:
Equity and Inclusion
Ministry Priority
(2011-2013):
Teaching and Learning, Equity, Transitions
Project Lead(s):
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Brief Background:
Special education in Ontario has been underserved by resources and updateable research. The resources that exist are not coordinated and there is no central information system, research journal, or text that can supply ‘just-in-time’ delivery about working with students with special learning needs to educators in Ontario. The well-established lag between the release of educational research findings and their translation into practice may be especially acute in Ontario special education. The purpose of the proposed project is to gather providers and consumers to identify and analyze the gaps in knowledge, skills, and learning resources needed to implement the Ontario College of Teachers Guidelines for Additional Qualification (AQ) courses in Special Education.
Research Context:
Fourteen per cent or 4.4 million Canadians currently report having at least one disability, an increase from the 3.6 million self-declaring in 2001 (Ontario College of Teachers, 2011). Of these, 121,000 children between the ages of 5 and 14 are reported to have a learning disability. In Ontario, nearly 300,000 students require some form of special education intervention during their school day, of which 80% spend more than half a day in the regular classroom (Ministry of Education, 2009). Research has shown unequivocally that training teachers to accommodate students with disabilities in their classrooms and to meet the needs of diverse learners is the best form of professional practice, benefitting all students (Allen, 2002; Jordan et al. 2010; Kalambouka et al., 2005; Killoran, 2002; Rea et al., 2002; Schwartz & Jordan, 2011).
Knowledge Mobilization Activities:
This project begins by obtaining input from 24 Ontario educators and researchers in special education on what teachers should know and be able to do upon completing the Schedule D Special Education Additional Qualification Specialist course. The project builds on prior feedback sought by the OCT regarding additions and revisions to the current Special Education AQ course guidelines. Stakeholders from across Ontario convened at the OCT for a two-day consultation meeting . During this meeting, participants had the opportunity to network and collaborate on further revisions to the AQ course guidelines. Participants also considered how an online, knowledge network may be designed to support course providers and consumers in learning the content. Researchers compiled the findings from the two-day consultation and reported on the gaps in teacher knowledge, skills, and resources related to special education that were identified by the stakeholders.
Outcomes:
This research will provide a graduate student the opportunity to experience effective group facilitation, organize stakeholder meetings, assist with the research on current e-learning resources, and begin research on evidence-based methods for teaching children with special needs. A summary of the stakeholders’ discussion from the two-day consultation was written. The findings are being published in the Canadian Journal of Education.