Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)


School of Education


Learning and Instruction


Special Education EdD

First Advisor

Xornam Apedoe

Second Advisor

Nicola McClung

Third Advisor

Danfeng Koon


Inclusion has been a topic of interest in education and a great deal of research has identified teachers’ attitudes as a barrier to inclusion. Therefore, using the model of attitude (Eagly & Chaiken, 1993) and inclusive pedagogy framework (Florian & Black-Hawkins, 2012), the qualitative study aims to: (1) examine the attitudes of early childhood special education (ECSE) teachers toward inclusion as a school shift from segregated to more inclusive classrooms, (2) explore types of support they received and how that support shaped their inclusive pedagogical practices to teach in inclusive classrooms, and (3) identify barriers that impact their transition to teach in inclusive classrooms.

Data were gathered through semi-structured interviews and then coded using in vivo and pattern coding to determine categories and subcategories. Thus, three findings emerged: (1) participants understood the notion of inclusion as “all students,” access, and belonging, (2) participants received some level of support, which may or may not have been beneficial in preparing them for the shift to teaching in inclusive classrooms, and (3) there are district and classroom barriers to inclusion. As a result, findings suggest a need for ongoing professional development to support the implementation of inclusion and teachers’ inclusive pedagogical practices. However, the study has several limitations: (1) sample size, (2) data collection, (3) time constraint, and (4) participants’ response biases. Thus, the findings revealed several implications for research and practice. The study points toward the importance of fostering belonging, conducting a comparative qualitative study to examine attitudes of ECSE teachers in self-contained classrooms and ECSE teachers teaching in inclusive classrooms, and ensuring that future research is a longitudinal study to investigate the long-term benefits of professional development and support services, as well as the gradual transformation in teachers' attitudes toward inclusion. Moreover, three implications for practice are recommended: (1) having provisions of continuous professional development and support services to meet the needs of teachers, (2) focusing on equity inventions that potentially provide access and foster belonging in the classrooms, and (3) considering to recruit teachers of diverse background. In conclusion, inclusion benefits people who have been marginalized, and it functions similarly to equity in that it pulls those who are most disadvantaged into the light.