ERIC Identifier: ED289885
Publication Date: 1985-00-00
Source: ERIC Clearinghouse on Tests Measurement and Evaluation Princeton NJ.

Measuring Teacher Attitudes toward Mainstreaming.

To provide equal access to education, the Education for All Handicapped Children Act requires the placement of handicapped students in the least restrictive environment that will promote their academic and social development. In response to this requirement, schools are mainstreaming handicapped students from segregated special education settings into regular classrooms.

Because teachers play a crucial role in mainstreaming programs, knowledge of their attitudes is important. To assist in planning evaluation studies, this Digest will focus on the reasons for evaluating teacher attitudes, the types of attitudes being measured, measurement techniques being used, and major findings in recent research.


Identifying teacher attitudes is important on two levels: the individual classroom level and the larger program level. On the classroom level, teacher attitudes affect teaching and students. Research shows that teachers' attitudes influence both their expectations for their students and their behavior toward them. These attitudes, expectations, and behaviors influence both student self-image and academic performance (Alexander and Strain 1978).

Negative teacher attitudes toward handicapped students are detrimental to the handicapped students mainstreamed into their classrooms (Hannah and Pliner 1983). On the program level, teacher attitudes provide important feedback for judging overall program effectiveness and for improving mainstreaming procedures.

In addition to attitude assessment, attitude measures can identify both teacher characteristics and program procedures which appear to affect teacher attitudes. Results can help improve program design and implementation, daily procedures, preservice and inservice teacher training, and support services.

Assessing changes in teacher attitude over time helps to evaluate the effectiveness of experience, changes in training or procedures, or the general progress of program implementation.


Two major types of teacher attitudes are being studied: attitudes toward handicapped students and attitudes toward mainstreaming.

Attitudes Toward the Handicapped

While teacher attitudes toward the disabled in general have been studied, educational research has focused more on identifying differences in attitudes toward different types of disabilities. Casey, for example, measured differences in attitudes toward physically handicapped, emotionally disturbed, mentally retarded, and speech impaired children. Evaluations also can focus on attitudes toward sensory disabilities, such as blindness and deafness.

Attitudes Toward Mainstreaming

Teacher attitudes can be the focus of mainstreaming evaluations or part of a larger program assessment. Studies also can look at how types of teacher attitudes reflect different stages in the implementation process and at the process of implementing mainstreaming programs.

Many different questions can be asked about teacher attitudes toward mainstreaming. Many studies have examined the cognitive and affective changes in teachers to evaluate inservice treatment effects. Others have looked at specific program effects, such as class size, class composition, or support services. The relationship of teacher attitudes to such teacher characteristics as sex, knowledge of handicaps or mainstreaming, and grade level taught has also been studied.


A variety of types of attitude measures can be used to construct instruments to measure teacher attitudes. Descriptions and examples of the following types are discussed in the literature (Horne l980; Jones l984):

--Summated rating, or Likert-type scales --Equal-appearing interval scales --Rank order --Q Sorts --Semantic differential techniques --Sociometric procedures --Adjective checklists --Questionnaires --Interviews

Many measures of teacher attitudes toward mainstreaming have been developed to evaluate specific school programs. The methodology and validity of many studies have not been evaluated. The following measures are examples of instruments which may have more general applicability.

Attitude Toward Mainstreaming Scale

Developed to establish a baseline of teacher attitudes toward mainstreaming and to monitor future attitudinal changes, this instrument measures three attitude factors (learning capability, general mainstreaming, and traditional limiting disabilities), the effects of five variables (sex, teaching field, certification category, age, and teaching experience), and past experience with the handicapped (Berryman and Berryman l981). Validation studies support the scale's applicability to studies assessing teacher attitudes toward mainstreaming and attitude change that are not disability specific (Berryman and Neal l980).

Stages of Concerns Questionnaire (SoCQ)

This instrument has been used to assess teacher attitudes to evaluate the progress of implementing mainstreaming programs. Based on a model of a progression of defined stages of concerns, or types of attitudes people have when involved in a process of adopting educational innovations, the SoCQ identifies at which of the seven stages attitudes appear to be (Hall l977). It has been used in a study of Illinois elementary school teachers (Bosman l979) and a longitudinal study of Kansas teachers (Holloway l980).


Most studies show that teachers, like the general public, have negative views of both handicapped students and mainstreaming. Teachers are most negative to mainstreaming emotionally disturbed and mentally retarded students (Alexander and Strain l978; Hannah and Pliner l983). Lack of knowledge about disabilities, experience with handicapped students, and training in teaching these types of students appear as major contributors of these attitudes.

Preservice and inservice training has been effective in promoting positive attitudes and facilitating skill acquisition (Salend l984). Additionally, training should address the stages of concern of the teachers involved, their degree of actual experience with mainstreaming, to be most effective (Holloway and others l980).

Support services for teachers with mainstreamed classes appear vital to teacher attitudes. Having psychologists or special education teachers who can provide information and assistance on a specific handicapped child, behavior management, or teaching techniques, makes teachers more positive toward mainstreaming (Hannah and Pliner l983; Horne l980).

Placing handicapped students in regular classrooms makes more demands on the time and talents of the classroom teacher. Assessing teacher attitudes is vital to providing teachers with the training and support services to enable them to meet the challenge successfully.


Alexander, Cara, and Philip S. Strain. "A Review of Educators' Attitudes Toward Handicapped Children and the Concept of Mainstreaming." PSYCHOLOGY IN THE SCHOOLS 15 (1978):390-396.


Berryman, Joan D., and Charles R. Berryman. USE OF THE "ATTITUDES TOWARD MAINSTREAMING SCALE" WITH RURAL GEORGIA TEACHERS. Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association, Los Angeles, April, 1981. ED 201 420.

Berryman, Joan D., and W. R. Neal, Jr. "The Cross Validation of the Attitudes Toward Mainstreaming Scale." EDUCATIONAL AND PSYCHOLOGICAL MEASUREMENT 40 (1980):469-474.

Hall, Gene E., and others. MEASURING STAGES OF CONCERN ABOUT INNOVATION: MANUAL FOR THE USE OF THE SoC QUESTIONNAIRE. Austin: University of Texas, 1977. ED 147 342.

Hannah, Mary Elizabeth, and Susan Pliner. "Teacher Attitudes Toward Handicapped Children: A Review and Synthesis." SCHOOL PSYCHOLOGY REVIEW 12 (1983):12-25.

Holloway, William, and others. POLICY ANALYSIS: AN ASSESSMENT OF PUBLIC SCHOOL EDUCATORS' CONCERNS IN RELATION TO PL 94-142. Washington, DC: Bureau of Education for the Handicapped, 1980. Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association, Boston, April, 1980. ED 191 168.

Horne, Marcia D. HOW ATTITUDES ARE MEASURED. ERIC/TM REPORT 78. Princeton, NJ: ERIC Clearinghouse on Tests, Measurement, and Evaluation, Educational Testing Service, 1980. ED 198 154.

Jones, Reginald L., editor. ATTITUDES AND ATTITUDE CHANGE IN SPECIAL EDUCATION: THEORY AND PRACTICE. Reston, VA: ERIC Clearinghouse on Handicapped and Gifted Children, The Council for Exceptional Children, 1984.

Salend, Spencer J., "Factors Contributing to the Development of Successful Mainstreaming Programs." EXCEPTIONAL CHILDREN 50 (1984):409-416.

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