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The role of experience in teachers’ social representation of students with autism spectrum diagnosis (Asperger)
Linköping University, Department of Behavioural Sciences and Learning. Linköping University, Faculty of Arts and Sciences. Linköping University, The Swedish Institute for Disability Research.
Malmö University, Sweden.
Linköping University, Department of Behavioural Sciences and Learning, Psychology. Linköping University, Faculty of Arts and Sciences.ORCID iD: 0000-0001-5025-9975
Örebro University, Sweden.
2015 (English)In: Cogent Education, ISSN 2331-186X, Vol. 2, no 2, 1-18 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Support from teachers is a key strategy for accommodating students with Asperger syndrome (AS) diagnosis in the mainstream classroom. Teachers’ understanding and expectations of students, i.e. their social representations (SR), have a bearing on how they interact and accommodate, but little is known about why. Therefore, the current study examined the idea that teachers’ SR of these students are influenced by their previous experience with AS. To this end, Swedish mainstream teachers were invited to anonymously answer a web-based questionnaire (N = 153). An association task was used to obtain data on teachers’ SR and the content and structure of the SR were explored. Our results suggest that work-related experience of AS and/or private experience shape teachers’ SR of these students relative to teachers with no experience. Moreover, teachers with previous experience had more SR elements related to environment and learning factors while teachers without previous experience had more elements related to the individual’s behavior. Teachers with private experience produced fewer positive elements compared to those with work-related experience only. These results highlight the role of contextual factors and prior experience in forming SR. We conclude that contact with students with AS, e.g. during teacher training, could facilitate accommodation in mainstream schools.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2015. Vol. 2, no 2, 1-18 p.
Keyword [en]
Autism spectrum disorder; Asperger diagnosis; teacher experience; social representations; inclusion; social representation theory
National Category
Psychology Educational Sciences
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-121058DOI: 10.1080/2331186X.2014.994584OAI: oai:DiVA.org:liu-121058DiVA: diva2:851263
Available from: 2015-09-04 Created: 2015-09-04 Last updated: 2015-09-22Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. To include or not to include: Teachers’ social representations of inclusion of students with Asperger syndrome
Open this publication in new window or tab >>To include or not to include: Teachers’ social representations of inclusion of students with Asperger syndrome
2015 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Evidence on inclusive classrooms shows that successful implementation of inclusion can lead to increased social involvement, personal well-being and higher levels of academic performance compared with segregated provision. Despite these potential benefits inclusion of students with Asperger syndrome (AS) in the mainstream classroom is problematic. Support from teachers is a key strategy for accommodating students with AS diagnosis in the mainstream classroom. Less well is understood how teachers create an inclusive environment for these learners. Teachers’ social representations (SR), have a bearing on how they interact and accommodate, therefore the first aim of this dissertation was to explore teachers’ SR of students with AS. The second aim was to highlight the role of contextual factors and prior experience in forming SR. The third aim was to study the link between teachers’ individual practice and broader institutional forces by comparing the SRs among principals, school health professionals and teachers. The forth aim was to study what teacher factors predict teachers’ positive attitudes towards inclusion of students with AS.

The findings show that a medical approach seems to dominate especially earlier trained teachers’ SRs; however, there is a tendency to view the environment increasingly important. Our results suggest that experience with students with AS is related to teachers' SR of these students. In addition, our data indicate that there is a need to bridge the gap between the organizational level, the classroom level and the individual student level in order to reduce barriers for students with AS to fit into an inclusive environment. Finally, positive attitudes towards inclusion of students with AS were found to relate to teachers’ knowledge of teaching students with AS and their attitudes towards students with AS. To conclude teachers’ SRs are deeply seated and the first step is to bring them to the forefront so that teachers are aware of them. In addition, there is a need for team building in the school arena to achieve a common vision for an inclusive school.

Abstract [sv]

Forskning visar att inkluderande klassrumsundervisning kan leda till ökad social delaktighet, personligt välbefinnande och högre studieresultat jämfört med segregerande utbildning i speciella undervisningsgrupper. Trots dessa potentiella fördelar är inkludering av elever med Aspergers syndrom (AS) problematiskt. Lärarna spelar en viktig roll för att förverkliga inkludering och deras föreställningar om elever med AS är sannolikt knutna till om, och hur, dessa elever är inkluderade i klassrummet. Lärarnas sociala representationer (SR), har betydelse för hur de interagerar och anpassar undervisningen.

Avhandlingens övergripande syfte var att bidra till ökad kunskap om lärares och övrig skolpersonals SR om en inkluderande skolundervisning för elever med AS. Det första syftet var att undersöka lärares SR om elever med AS. Det andra syftet var att utforska betydelsen av kontextuella faktorer och tidigare erfarenhet av AS. Det tredje syftet var att studera sambandet mellan lärares enskilda praktik och skolans organisation genom att jämföra rektorers, skolhälsopersonals och lärares SR om inkludering av elever med AS. Den fjärde studien syftade till att undersöka vilka faktorer som bidrar till en positiv attityd till inkludering av elever med AS hos lärare.

Resultaten visar att ett medicinskt synsätt dominerar i synnerhet tidigare utbildade lärares SR av elever med AS. Emellertid tillskivs miljön en allt större betydelse. Resultaten visar att lärare är positiva till inkludering och att erfarenhet av elever med AS har ett samband med lärares SR av dessa elever. Dessutom tyder resultaten på att det finns ett behov av att överbrygga klyftan mellan den organisatoriska nivån, klassrumsnivån och individnivån för att gynna en inkluderande undervisning. Positiv attityd till inkludering av elever med AS visade sig relatera till lärares kunskaper om undervisning av elever med AS och deras SR om elever med AS. Sammanfattaningsvis konstateras att lärares SR är djupt rotade och ett första steg är att uppmärksamma dem. Dessutom finns ett behov av en bredare diskussion och teambuilding i skolarenan för att åstadkomma en gemensam vision för en inkluderande skola.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Linköping: Linköping University Electronic Press, 2015. 91 p.
Series
Linköping Studies in Arts and Science, ISSN 0282-9800 ; 656Studies from the Swedish Institute for Disability Research, ISSN 1650-1128 ; 75
Keyword
Inclusion, Asperger diagnosis, mainstream teachers, social representations, Inkludering, Asperger diagnos, lärare, sociala representationer
National Category
Psychology Educational Sciences
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-121062 (URN)10.3384/diss.diva-121062 (DOI)978-91-7685-956-8 (ISBN)
Public defence
2015-09-28, I:101, Hus I, Campus Valla, Linköping, 13:00 (Swedish)
Opponent
Available from: 2015-09-04 Created: 2015-09-04 Last updated: 2016-10-05Bibliographically approved

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