Inquiry Research Final Paper: Inclusive vs Self-contained Classroom Issues

When I think about “burning issues”, I tend to see the struggles between inclusive classrooms and self-contained classrooms.  I have been in both settings when I was in practicum as an education assistant, and I saw students struggling in both classrooms. For example, an English Language Learner (ELL) student in inclusive environment was left out because he did not get enough help. He always put his head down because he didn’t understand what is going on in class because of his language barrier.  On the other hand, when I was in “skilled class” which eight exceptionality students were in the class and some had Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Down Syndrome, Autism along with most of them with Moderate Intellectual Disorder. Those students needed assistance when they used public bathroom in school because they were afraid of other children which show their social skill needs improvement.   I am curious which classroom settings are better for which students along with the pros and cons about both inclusive and self-contained. Additionally, it would be interesting to know what teachers think about inclusive education and what Saskatchewan education’s beliefs are. I believe understanding these topics are important to me to make a difference to future education.


Self-Contained Education

            First of all, why was self-contained Education created? According Nicole Eledics, the purpose of the self-contained classroom is to give students with disabilities specialized interventions and support. The class is sometimes smaller in size than a general education class, with a lead teacher and several paraprofessionals who provide assistance (2016).  Diane.R, Jennifer.W. M, Jill.F.S, Sandra.A and Terri.W did the experiment: to describe how two brothers with similar diagnoses involving and who had a 10-year age difference functioned in their natural settings as services in the same rural one-building district. The older brother received self-contained settings throughout his school career, while the younger brother received in inclusive general education settings. (2010, p.38). Both brothers have similar IQ which is around 46. I wonder what happened to the older brother, Mark, in self-contained classrooms, and if it was successful.

Diane.R, Jennifer.W. M, Jill.F.S, Sandra.A and Terri.W mentioned that Mark’s records indicated minimal to no access to peers without disabilities(2010, p.39). Addition to that, Mark was an anxious child, especially in new situations ( Diane.R, Jennifer.W. M, Jill.F.S, Sandra.A and Terri.W, 2010, p.44). It seems Mark was isolated from the society, therefore, he struggled adapting in the new situations.  At the end, Mark continued to display uneasiness in social situations into his adult life. He continued to live with his family…his social or networking activities were with one female caregiver who was paid (Diane.R, Jennifer.W. M, Jill.F.S, Sandra.A and Terri.W, 2010, p.49).  Mark’s experience with self-contained setting seemed to affect his adulthood, and he continued to be dependant on his family members and a female caregiver he can be comfortable with.

Despite of Mark’s story, I have a friend who has 10-year-old son with ADHD and Oppositional Defiant Disorder(ODD). He had been in regular classroom since he was in kindergarten. He tends to be short tempered, and distracts his classmates quite often by throwing items and screaming. His mother told me that he was suspended from school every two weeks. She had meetings with the principle and the teacher every week to see if they can come up with a better solution. It seemed the teacher was feeling helpless and giving up having my friend’s son in her class.  Therefore, she has decided to send him to a self-contained classroom this year, and his behaviour has changed. He is with five other classmates who have similar behavioral problems which gave him an opportunity to reflect his own behavioral issues by watching his classmates’ aggressive behaviour. He told his mother that he wants to be a role model for his classmates which had never happened when he was in regular class. It is still an ongoing process; however, I am glad to hear that his behaviour has been improving in self-contained classroom.


Inclusive Education

            According to Nicole Eledics (2016), inclusive classrooms educate students with and without disabilities.  What are the benefits for students with disabilities in inclusive classrooms? Mark’s younger brother, Jim’s time in the Kindergarten was limited, however, because he was removed from the class for occupational, physical, and speech/language therapy, as well as resource room support ( Diane.R, Jennifer.W. M, Jill.F.S, Sandra.A and Terri.W, 2010, p.44). Diane.R, Jennifer.W. M, Jill.F.S, Sandra.A and Terri.W (2010) also mentioned that Jim often would watch his classmates participating in a new activity before he began to participate(p.45).  Jim continued…these services, however, were delivered in Jim’s general education classroom, and counseling was removed from his IEP by second grade (Diane.R, Jennifer.W. M, Jill.F.S, Sandra.A and Terri.W, 2010, p.45). At the end, Jim blended into the social miliue of his peers, so that an observer would not have identified him as having disabilities without prior information (Diane.R, Jennifer.W. M, Jill.F.S, Sandra.A and Terri.W, 2010, p.49) which proves that he was independent and had no support around him. Comparing to Mark, Jim had access to role models without disabilities who were developing and using self-advocacy and self-determination skills in their daily lives (Diane.R, Jennifer.W. M, Jill.F.S, Sandra.A and Terri.W, 2010, p.51). Unlike my friend’s son, it seems having Jim in inclusive classroom setting was successful.


Teacher Perspectives on Inclusive Education

            It is easy to say that inclusive education is recommended for students with or without exceptionalities; however, what are teachers thinking about inclusive classroom settings? Are there any other teachers like the teacher of my friend’s son who felt helpless?  According to Angela. I, Judy. L, Juna.L.C, and Tim. L (2013), broadly, their review describes that teachers are more accepting of students with physical disabilities than cognitive or behavioural disabilities (Avramidis & Norwich 2002) (p.200). Some teacher says “we are being asked to do so much with so little and it would be [a] tough enough job teaching the regular kids that you have and throw on top of that a kid with severe special needs like [him]. Then say you better put together the whole program and coordinate with his aide. What? What do you mean, first of all I have no training in this and second of all there’s no way the kid can do the curriculum. That, being an inclusive school, is absolute frustration” (Angela. I, Judy. L, Juna.L.C, and Tim. L, 2013, p.215).  In addition, research reveals that school staff believe that they are under-prepared to deal with students with special needs (Forlin & Chambers, 2011; Kantor, 2011) (Angela. I, Judy. L, Juna.L.C, and Tim. L, 2013, p.201).  Teachers’ perspectives show that they feel they don’t have enough training along with resources such as funding and assistance to include exceptionality students in inclusive classroom environment.   My mentor teacher from last year of my practicum as an education assistant used to tell me she gets more frustrated when I am not around because those students with severe behavioural problems get out of control, and she sometimes needs to get help from the principal.  She mentioned that having one adult in her class to support students is a huge difference than having none.



Education in Saskatchewan

            There seems to be positive outcome and challenges in both inclusive and self-contained classroom settings, and I wonder what Ministry of Education in Saskatchewan has been focusing on to provide a better education for students. According to Saskatchewan Ministry of Education (2017), the Ministry of Education supports the belief, attitude, and approach of inclusion for meeting the needs of all individuals (p.2).  In addition to inclusion, they focus on emphasizing the supports that the student requires and the elimination of barriers; Nurturing independence and interdependence by providing opportunities that promote the development of personal empowerment and self-determination (Saskatchewan Ministry of Education, 2017, p.2). It also includes within a foundational vision of inclusive education, teachers are supported to create learning environments that value diversity (Saskatchewan Ministry of Education, 2017, p.3).  It seems Saskatchewan Ministry of Education pays particular attention to inclusive classroom environment, in addition, they are not only thinking about students, but also caring about teachers and their needs of support. Besides, Saskatchewan Ministry of Education provides a wonderful strategy for teachers to meet student needs




            It seems having an inclusive classroom setting is more beneficial for students with and without disabilities than a self-contained classroom setting. To create successful inclusive classroom environment, teachers need to be willing to take the challenges and training, in addition, it is essential for teachers to receive enough support every student such as education assistants and tools that could help students do their best in school; for instance, fidget toys, balance balls to sit and technologies da. However, how can teachers or schools receive funding and trainings to make inclusive education successful? Can every student do their best in inclusive settings? Can my friend’s son go back to inclusive classroom to be more successful, or is self-contained setting the best for him?  We have many ELL students in Canada, and what strategies are available to have them in inclusive classroom environment? I would like to learn more strategies and methods to make the best environment for each student.



Angela. I, Judy. L, Juna.L.C, and Tim. L (2013).Teacher Perspectives on Inclusive Education in Rural Alberta, Canada: Canadian Journal of Education 36,1, pp.195-239


Diane.R, Jennifer.W. M, Jill.F.S, Sandra.A and Terri.W (2010).Education and Training in Autism and Developmental Disabilities,Vol. 45, No.1,pp.38-53


Kate,K. (n.k).Understood:8 Tools for Kids with Dysgraphia Retrieved by


Nicole, E. (2016). 5 Ways Inclusive Classrooms Are Different from Self-Contained Classrooms. Retrieved by


Saskatchewan Ministry of Education (2017). Inclusive Education. Retrieved by

















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