This international, cross-cultural study investigated the attitudes of occupational therapy students from Australia, United Kingdom, United States and Taiwan towards inclusive education for students with disabilities. The possible impact of professional education on students' attitudes was also explored. A total of 485 students from 11 entry level occupational therapy education programmes from Australia, the United Kingdom, the United Sates and Taiwan participated in the study. Among them, 264 were freshmen (first-year students) and 221 were seniors (final-year students). Data collected from a custom-designed questionnaire were analysed both quantitatively and qualitatively.
In general, the occupational therapy students reported having positive attitudes towards inclusion. Considerable differences, however, existed among the student groups from the four countries. Professional education appeared to have a significant impact on students' attitudes towards inclusion from first year to senior year. Although students were in favour of inclusion, they also cautioned that their support for inclusive practices depended on various factors such as adequate preparation, support and assistance to students with disabilities.
Limitations of the study included the small, convenience sample and different degree structures of the participating programmes. Future research studies need to compare occupational therapy students' attitudes with students from other health care professions. A longitudinal study on the impact of the professional education programme on students' attitudes towards inclusive education is warranted.
Field of Research
130209 Medicine, Nursing and Health Curriculum and Pedagogy
Socio Economic Objective
920201 Allied Health Therapies (excl. Mental Health Services)