6. Exploring the Transformative Potential of Experiential Learning

Fostering Positive Attitudes towards Inclusive Science Education for Special Education Needs (SEN) Learners in Korea

In: Critical Issues and Bold Visions for Science Education

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We offer socio-historical context for understanding current challenges for implementing inclusive education for students with special education needs (SEN) in the Korean education system. We present current barriers to SEN students’ learning, including limited access to physical spaces, material resources that can accommodate impairments, and teachers who are qualified in special education and content areas. These factors, as well as negative attitudes towards people with disabilities in Korean society, prevent SEN learners from being physically and academically integrated into regular education settings. To address these challenges, we describe a course designed to engage pre-service secondary science teachers in experiential learning with SEN students during authentic science teaching activities. This course supports teachers to confront unexamined biases about people with disabilities and inclusive education and to consider how teachers’ beliefs shape their perceptions about SEN learners and their attitudes about the value of science education for students with disabilities. Using autobiographical writing and dialogues in small-group and whole-class discussion to promote reflection and to generate intention for future action, we demonstrate how experiential learning courses can support teachers to develop more positive attitudes towards inclusive education and SEN learners. We discuss limitations and the need for research to improve education for diverse learners in science.