Bridging gaps between theory and practice of inclusion through an innovative partnership between university academics and school educators in Australia

Umesh Sharma, Christine Grové, Stella Laletas, Rashmi Rangarajan, Simon Finkelstein

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Universities often struggle to translate theory of inclusive education into real life practices for pre-service teachers (PSTs). In this paper, we evaluate an innovative partnership between Australian secondary school teachers and university academics where they co-designed and co-taught an undergraduate inclusive education course. We used a quasi-experimental design where 67 PSTs were grouped into two cohorts: one co-taught by the team of school educators and university academics (n = 26), the other taught only by university academics (n = 41). PSTs’ scores on teaching efficacy, attitudes and intentions to teach in inclusive classrooms were measured at the pre and posttest stages of the course. Our evaluation showed significant increases in positive attitudes and teaching efficacy skills, decreased concerns and higher intentions to teach in inclusive classrooms among PSTs who were co-taught. The co-teaching team also identified various professional and personal benefits of collaborating. We further discuss the implications of our research for teacher education programmes and the usefulness of including school educators’ expertise in bridging the gaps between theory and practice.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages16
JournalInternational Journal of Inclusive Education
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2021


  • Australia
  • collaborative model
  • Inclusive teacher education
  • pre-service teacher (PST)
  • school-university partnership

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