1 National Research Council of Italy (ITALY)
2 Sofia University "St. Kliment Ohridski" (BULGARIA)
About this paper:
Appears in: ICERI2022 Proceedings
Publication year: 2022
Pages: 5450-5458
ISBN: 978-84-09-45476-1
ISSN: 2340-1095
doi: 10.21125/iceri.2022.1332
Conference name: 15th annual International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 7-9 November, 2022
Location: Seville, Spain
In response to the growing diversity in learners populations, in the last decades, many researchers, teacher educators and policy makers have been concentrating their efforts on the need to develop teachers’ competence in inclusive education. Most research efforts and policy initiatives are moving along the line of elaborating and proposing a range of inclusive pedagogical strategies relying on community building and on the idea of offering students a wealth of opportunities for active involvement and personalised learning. These include, for example, collaborative approaches entailing work in flexible and heterogeneous teams, support to metacognition and self-regulation, assessment for learning, inquiry and authentic problem solving, hands-on activities leveraging on direct experience, engagement with the local community and the wider world (Herbert, 2011; Florian & Bleck-Hawkings, 2011). In this study we intend to follow a different route. Starting from the assumption that teachers are professionals who, through many years of practice, may have developed suitable strategies to cope with learners’ diversity, we acknowledged them the role of experts and set out to investigate which inclusive strategies they privilege. Aim of the study is to answer the following research question: “what kind of strategic principles do teachers consider important for designing and running inclusive teaching?”

To this end, we adopted the Nominal Group Technique (NGT), a participatory approach to elicit the competence of a panel of informants and support consensus building (Delbecq & Van de Ven, 1971). It consists in four phases, called:
(1) silent reflection, i.e. individual ideas generation
(2) round robin ideas collection by a moderator
(3) ideas discussion and clarification, with possible merge of similar ideas and
(4) agreement and ranking of the ideas.

The panel involved in the study consisted of 18 in-service teachers of primary and lower secondary schools, from 4 European Countries: Italy, Bulgaria, Greece and Cyprus. They were asked to focus on inclusion needs originated by socio-cultural and economic disadvantage and produce “recommendations for a colleague on how to design and implement inclusive learning activities”. In our case, the NGT was conducted by 4 researchers, moderating the work of three panels of informants. The procedure was described by the moderators before the NGT session, and then the process was implemented with three groups of teachers of, respectively, 6, 5 and 7 members.

The results were analysed by the researchers and provide some interesting insights about teachers’ beliefs on inclusive pedagogy. The majority of their recommendations were in line with research literature, with some differences. For example, one aspect that usually appear in the literature but was not mentioned by teachers is the importance of opening the class to the local and global context. Similarly, not only did they disregard the idea of addressing inclusive content, but they even rated highly the recommendation that all activities should be in line with the curriculum, although this concern is not specific to inclusive pedagogy. These findings should be confirmed through more extensive investigation and confronted with the beliefs of other stakeholders, such as students. However, should they be confirmed, they can inform the way teacher professional development can be carried out in the future.
Inclusive pedagogy, teachers professional development, inclusive learning design, Nominal Group Technique.