Despite strong support for inclusive education in principle, many teachers and administrators still demonstrate mixed responses to the inclusion of certain students in their classrooms. Students with specific learning difficulties (SpLD) form a large group of students in inclusive classrooms yet some provincial, state and national jurisdictions fail to acknowledge the existence of these students. Not acknowledging and understanding these students can deny them the recognition and resources necessary for their genuine participation in education and, in turn, society. The aim of this study was to examine British in-service secondary teachers’ attributional responses to students with and without specific learning difficulties. The participants included 122 British secondary school teachers who were surveyed in response to vignettes of hypothetical male students who had failed a class test. The study found that while teachers attributed more positive causes towards students without SpLD, they exhibited more negative causes towards students with SpLD. Teachers’ causal attributional outcomes of students’ level of achievement can impact upon the students’ own attributions, with teachers’ responses for students with SpLD having the potential to, unintentionally, influence students’ own sense of self-efficacy and motivation. The paper concludes with a consideration of the implications of the research and recommendations for practice.
- attribution theory
- in-service teachers
- secondary education
- specific learning difficulties