Constructing inclusion : meaning-making, process, and change in professional education.
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameDoctor of Philosophy
The core focus of this Ph.D thesis is to explore how a set of teacher educators responded to the opportunity to develop and teach in a new initial teacher education (ITE) programme with inclusive education as a core goal. The opportunity to develop this new ITE programme emerged as a request of the Aotearoa New Zealand Ministry of Education (MoE, 2013) for tertiary education providers to design new Master’s level ITE programmes directed at raising the overall academic performance within the education system. This study focuses on how a particular set of course developers and teacher educators utilise the opportunity provided by the MoE’s request for applications to construct different approaches to inclusion directed at enhancing the learning outcomes of all students in Aotearoa NZ. I investigate the social space enabled by government funding of a new postgraduate initial teacher education programme - a site regulated by dominant interests and agendas. I refer to the practices of these teacher educators as ‘working the space’ – that is, I explore how teaching practitioners negotiate the challenges and possibilities within this new ITE programme to transform the way inclusion is understood and practised by the next generation of emergent teachers.
I draw on critical discourse analysis (CDA) to dig beneath the problem or issue identified in this case, the ongoing disparity in academic outcomes. CDA is used to examine how issues relating to disparate educational outcomes are shaped and maintained by the sociocultural, political, historical and institutional contexts in which they are located. Qualitative analysis of the design and implementation of this new ITE programme draws on document analysis, fieldnotes of classroom observations and interviews conducted with teacher educators who taught in the courses observed. Findings from this research suggest that efforts to make education inclusive require more than equipping student teachers with competencies to teach an increasingly diverse set of students. This thesis argues that teaching practitioners are continuously locating spaces – along with student teachers – where they can work to improve the learning outcome of all students in complex and shifting institutional and societal environments.