Education of children with special needs along with their typically developing peers while providing them with in- and out-of class support is a practice, called integration, mainstreaming and inclusion more recently, that has been implemented in the United States and other industrialized nations since 1970s (Loventhal, 1999; Odom, 2000). In Turkey, although Children in Need of Special Education Law passed in 1983 made it possible for children with special needs to be educated in inclusive settings (Sucuoğlu, Bakkaloğlu, İçcen-Karasu, Demir ve Akalın, 2014), inclusive practices gained momentum with the passage of a decreed law (no. 573) in 1997 and adoption of the Regulations for Special Education and Guidance Services in 2006 (Akalın, Demir, Sucuoğlu, Bakkaloğlu ve İşcen, 2014). With the improvement in laws and regulations, the number of preschool children receiving educational services in inclusive settings has been increased. For example, during the 2010-2011 school year, approximately 125,000 children with special needs were placed in inclusive classrooms. Of those, about 100,000 children were in primary school or above while the remaining 25,000 children were in preschool. (Milli Eğitim Bakanlığı, 2011; Sucuoğlu, Bakkaloğlu, İşcen-Karasu, Demir ve Akalın, 2013). Although the number of preschool children served in inclusive classrooms has been increased as a result of the changes in legislation, there have been only a few programs designed to help preschool teachers learn teaching practices that can be used to support development and learning of young children with special needs within activities, routines and transitions of inclusive preschool classrooms.
The main purpose of this project is to translate and adapt the Embedded Instruction for Early Learning: Tools for Teachers (EIFEL), an early learning program developed by researchers in the United States (Snyder, Hemmeter, Sandall ve McLean, 2007; Snyder, Hemmeter, Sandall, McLean ve McLaughlin, 2013), into Turkish while considering the cultural and educational factors unique to Turkey and to investigate the effectiveness of the program using two professional development models, (1) EIFEL Workshops and (2) EIFEL Workshops + In-class Coaching. The principal investigator of the proposed project and two of the researchers were involved in the development and implementation of the original EIFEL project with varying roles and responsibilities.
Proposed project is planned to be implemented in three phases with each phase lasting approximately 12 months. In Phase 1, educational materials (e.g., four modules, trainer manual and teacher workbook and implementaton guide for each module), coaching manual and forms, and other data collection forms and scales from EIFEL program will be translated and adapted into Turkish. The content and format of these materials will be validated by an expert panel composed of key stakeholders. In Phase 2, a pilot study will be conducted to examine the feasibility of using materials adapted in Phase 1. In the pilot study, a multiple probe across participants design will be employed with 4 teachers and 4 children. Once the pilot study ends, the validation panel will re-convene to review the materials in light of the findings of the pilot study and additional revisions will be conducted, when necessary. In Phase 3, the effectiveness of EIFEL program will be examined using two different professional development models. The study will employ randomized conrolled trial with a total of 36 teachers and 36 children. Thirty-six teachers will randomly be assigned to one of the three study groups: Control group, EIFEL Workshops group and EIFEL Workshops+In-class Coaching Group. Data with respect to the dependent variable (i.e., teacher’s implementation of embedded instruction) will be collected three times during the study (before workshops, one month after workshops, and 3 months after workshops) by videotaping teacher-child interactions in each classroom and applying the EIOS (Snyder, Crowe, Hemmeter, Sandall, McLean, Crow ve EIFEL Project, 2009). Data obtained from the study will be analyzed to examine (a) the relationships between exposure to diiferent professional development models on preschool teacher’s accurate and frequent use of embedded instruction in inclusive preschool settings and (b) the impact of preschool teacher’s use of embedded instruction on children’s learning and whether the impact differs based on the type of professional development the teachers received.
With succesful completion of the proposed study, an early learning program, the EIFEL, will be ready for preschool teachers’ use to support development and learning of young children with disabilities in inclusive preschool classrooms. As part of the EIFEL program, four workshop guides and implementation manuals for preschool teachers will be developed. Additionally, an in-class coaching manual will be prepared to be used by individuals who provide professional development to preschool teachers and researchers who investigate professional development practices for early childhood teachers. Using the data and findings from the adaptation, pilot, and main study, we plan to produce 7 articles to be published in national or international peer-reviewed journals and 10 poster or oral presentations to be presented in national or international conferences.