The Building Links project has endeavoured to develop a unique research-informed and practical online resource tool devoted to facilitating the education of students with differing developmental disabilities in regular classrooms across Quebec and Canada. This resource tool was intended to bridge the gap between research and practice of inclusive education.
Building Links was developed through several years of research and collaboration between McGill University’s Department of Educational and Counseling Psychology and participating school boards in Montreal and the surrounding area. A series of studies were conducted to determine the existing needs of educators and families as well as examine the existing knowledge and perspectives of the various groups of stakeholders in the process of inclusive education.
Results revealed an overall positive perception of the effectiveness of inclusive education.
Research sought to answer “What are the existing levels of knowledge and perspectives relating to inclusive education?”, “What differences exist in the knowledge and perspectives of different groups of educators and parents?” and “What factors influence positive and negative perceptions of inclusive education?”
Results revealed an overall positive perception of the effectiveness of inclusive education. Positive views were related to recognition of the academic and social benefits of inclusion. Results also revealed distinct differences in the knowledge and perspectives of the various groups surveyed, with regular classroom teachers reporting higher perceived levels of knowledge of developmental disabilities that the other groups of educators. Overall, however, all groups indicated a low level of knowledge and confidence with respect to inclusive education.
Conclusions highlighted a series of recommendations for stakeholders at all levels including more intensive training programs for teachers, legislative definitions and frameworks, and directed policy changes at the school board level. Most importantly, we must recognize inclusive education as a complex and nuanced process, reliant on the collaboration of all stakeholders to ensure its success.
Tara Flanagan, McGill University
Deposit of the research report: March 2011