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Name: Chloe Dunlop Seminar topic: Student Development and Diversity

1b Weekly reflective response – Week 4

Lecture: Student Development and Diversity


Reading details (author, date, title, pages- if appropriate)

Chapter 9 – ‘Learners with Special Needs and Inclusive Education’ pp. 336-375
Duchesne, S., McMaugh, A., Bochner, S., & Krause, K. 2013, Educational Psychology for Learning and Teaching, 4th
edn, CENGAGE Learning, South Melbourne.

What?: Describe clearly the main ideas you are talking about from the lecture and readings
Which ideas stand out to you in the lecture and readings?

The lecture (Van Deur 2015) covered the differing beliefs about the developmental process of children, and the
varying influences on each individual’s development, including genetic and environmental factors. Knowledge of
developmental stages, and prevalent disabilities that affect learning, was highlighted as important, as was the idea
that whilst different ages have various expectations of abilities attached, individuals may not have reached their
age-appropriate stage or may have learning barriers in place as a result of these external factors.

Van Deur (2015) mentions that teachers need to be able to adjust their academic expectations and classroom
environments to become ‘inclusive’ in order to meet the needs of all of their students. This is echoed in chapter 9
of Duchesne et al. (2013), in which past ‘exclusive’ practices, such as special schools and specialist classes are
compared unfavourably to modern ‘inclusive’ teaching practices, where a child’s individual learning needs are met
within a ‘regular’ school environment (Duchesne et al. 2013, pp. 338-340).
So what? Why are these ideas or issues significant for development/learning/ teaching?
Are there different perspectives you can consider?
What are the positives and negatives of the ideas?

The concept of ‘inclusive’ education involves “the programs and services provided in most education systems to
address the needs of all students in regular schools, regardless of ability or disability” (Duchesne et al. 2013, p.
338). This method of education involves keeping students of all abilities with their age-appropriate peers, and
modifying the expectations placed on each student according to their abilities where needed. Where a child is
unable to participate in a standard activity, for example, a physically disabled student in a physical education
activity, the activity would then be modified so that the student could be involved (Van Deur 2015).

Inclusive education lies in direct contrast to previous more exclusive methods of schooling for those who did not
meet developmental expectations, or those with disabilities. Special schools or classes in the past were used more
prevalently for these students (Duchesne et al. 2013, p. 341), especially intellectually disabled children, as it was
felt that these groups had similar needs and could be educated better in this way.

Special schools and classes may have suited teachers who felt they did not have the necessary skills to educate
differently-abled students, but isolation from the general student population was found to negatively impact upon
self-esteem, and stigmatise students (Duchesne et. al. 2013, p.346). Inclusive learning in regular schools helps to
diminish stigmatisation, but also allows for catering to the individual learning needs of students who might
previously have been withdrawn, as well as students with ‘milder’ needs. This is achieved through task
differentiation (Van Deur 2015).
Now what? How has your understanding deepened or changed as a result of thinking about these ideas? How will
this understanding influence the way you will teach?

Understanding that individual students will be at different levels of cognitive development and may have a variety
of disability barriers to learning is highly important. This needs to shape the way that a teacher plans their
activities, so that each student is involved as much as possible in an inclusive manner. Planning of differentiated
activities to meet the needs of each student also works to ensure that all students are learning and being
challenged to a sufficient degree (Van Deur 2015) to further their development.

Acknowledging that inclusive classrooms meet multiple different needs of students, not just the academic but

Chloe Dunlop dunl0027 2046935


social needs etc. also, helps teachers to understand why an inclusive model may be more advantageous to the
development of their students. In my own experience at a regular school, I sometimes wondered whether a child
with a relatively severe intellectual disability might be better suited to a special school, as I believed they might
have been able to meet his needs better. However, after being presented with the evidence supporting inclusive
practices, I see that, providing activities are modified through differentiation sufficiently, he and others like him
may have more opportunity not only for academic growth but also social and self-esteem development in the
regular school.

Following on from last week’s topic of intelligence and creativity, it may also be possible that exposing children to
new ideas presented by peers with different areas of weakness and strength might be beneficial in addition to
differentiation, especially for those with various low abilities. ACARA encourages this from a critical thinking
development standpoint (Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority n.d., p. 2), but perhaps it
may also be a useful way to encourage academic and social development, as well as inclusion, in groups of mixed
ability.

In my future teaching career, I aim to utilise such differentiation, inclusion strategies and collaboration techniques
to ensure I am providing the best standard of education I can to my future students, and to meet their individual
learning needs effectively.

References

Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority n.d., Critical and creative thinking,
Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority, Sydney, viewed 18 July 2015,
<http://www.australiancurriculum.edu.au/GeneralCapabilities/Pdf/Critical-and-creative-thinking>

Duchesne, S, McMaugh, A, Bochner, S & Krause, K 2013, Educational Psychology for Learning and
Teaching, 4th edn, CENGAGE Learning, South Melbourne.

Van Deur, P. 2015, ‘Development and Diversity’, lecture notes distributed in the topic EDUC2322
Learners and their Development (Primary), Flinders University, Bedford Park on 17 March.

Criteria used for the one response that is marked /3


Assessment Poor / Developing/ Functional/ Proficient / Advanced/ Extended
criteria Prestructural Unistructural Mutistructural Relational abstract

½ 1 1½ 2—2 ½ 3
Inadequate Adequate level Sound level of Advanced level Excellent
level of of understanding of understanding and
understanding understanding understanding in-depth knowledge

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