Barriers in Teaching Science to Students with Special Needs: Exploration From Teachers' Perspectives
Previous research has identified the benefits of science learning to support post-school independence of children with special needs . However, the portion and quality of teaching science to these students is still very limited. This study aimed to explore the barriers faced by teachers in teaching science to children with special needs in both special schools and inclusive school settings. A mixed methods approach was employed to understand the implementation of science learning for children with special needs, especially the support and obstacles faced by teachers and students with special needs. Data were collected through structured interviews and observations of science learning. Interviews and observations were conducted in 11 special classes and 9 inclusive classes when teaching science to reveal the didactic method used by the teacher and the student responses. Guided interviews were conducted with teachers (n = 20, 15 female and 5 male) to understand the teaching process and obstacles experienced. The results of the interviews and observations were validated through a focus group discussion, which was attended by 7 participants. The quality of textbooks with adjustments for students with special needs was found to be the major challenge for teachers as they explained that they have limited time to adjust the content themselves. It was also identified that there is a need for teachers to shift their mindset, as they focus on students’ learning problems as teaching barriers. This study calls for professional development for teachers, with a focus on mindset, teaching strategies and accommodation in science subjects, which would enable teachers to support students with special needs in special and inclusive classrooms.
Keywords: science teaching, students with special needs, barriers in teaching
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