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    Team-teaching for inclusion: A critical analysis of disability discourse in Irish Post-Primary Schools

    McCauley, Eamonn (2020) Team-teaching for inclusion: A critical analysis of disability discourse in Irish Post-Primary Schools. PhD thesis, National University of Ireland Maynooth.

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    Educational policy rhetoric in Ireland has consistently represented team-teaching as an effective way to support the deployment of inclusive pedagogy in post-primary schools. Yet, evidence for such assertions is equivocal and the practice remains problematic and underused. Much of the inertia reported in relation to the adoption of team-teaching in post-primary schools had been associated with the cultural colonisation of inclusive education by positivist epistemologies and a lack of ideological commitment to the principles of inclusion. Using a multiple case study research design, this study investigated three purposely-chosen post-primary team-teaching initiatives, each in a different school, that were set up to support learners deemed to have disability. In each case, a series of team-teaching meetings held over the course of the 2015-2016 academic year was transcribed and subjected to Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA) using Fairclough’s (2003, 2016) Dialectical-Relational approach. Particular emphasis was placed on identifying and problematizing the discourses that dominated teachers’ constructions of learners deemed to have disability and whether these were grounded in positivist epistemologies or those congruent with inclusive education. The work also sought to examine whether or not teachers’ representations of students deemed to have disabilities influenced their conceptualisation of team-teaching as a support to the inclusion of these learners. Critical Disability Studies was used to develop a socio-cultural analysis of these issues. Findings suggested that the genre of team-teaching meetings significantly constrained how teachers made meaning about learners deemed to have disability. They also suggest that teachers relied disproportionately on essentialist and personal tragedy discourses to do so. This reliance limited their conceptualisations of team-teaching to a narrow set of normalising practices that required learners to accommodate to highly visible diminished identities and fit into existing mainstream educational programmes. In this context, team-teaching was used primarily to differentiate instruction and provide individual support to a broad range of learners, not just those deemed to have disability. It was deployed in ways that reproduced the power relations and disciplinary technologies of special education rather than the values and underlying epistemologies of inclusive education. Within team-teaching dyads, individual teachers often varied greatly in their use of disability discourse. They enacted particular team-teaching identities to negotiate incongruence between their discourse positions and those of their partners. As well as essentialist and personal tragedy discourses, teachers also used a range of counter-hegemonic discourses to represent learners deemed to have disability. These were usually deployed in tandem with essentialist discourses, which limited their influence on teachers’ conceptualisations of team-teaching. The study documented these counter-hegemonic discourses as examples of what resistance to oppressive essentialist discourse can look like and how this might be developed further in the future. Conclusions were drawn about how Universal Design for Learning and Assessment for Learning could be used to enhance the inclusive orientation of team-teaching.

    Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
    Keywords: Team-teaching; inclusion; critical analysis; disability discourse; Irish Post-Primary Schools;
    Academic Unit: Faculty of Social Sciences > Education
    Item ID: 13530
    Depositing User: IR eTheses
    Date Deposited: 05 Nov 2020 14:44
      Use Licence: This item is available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike Licence (CC BY-NC-SA). Details of this licence are available here

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