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The paper Ecological Systems Theory: a Valuable Framework for Research on Inclusion and Special Educational Needs/Disabilities by Leda Kamenopoulou, PhD, is published in the scientific educational journal Pedagogy. It is part of a series of papers on Special and Inclusive Education started as a partnership between GLOBI and Pedagogy.
Abstract. In this article I critically discuss some of the benefits and limitations of using Ecological Systems Theory (EST) in research on Inclusion and Special Educational Needs/Disabilities (SEN/D). In support for this discussion I draw on reflections from a study I conducted on the social inclusion and participation of young people with dual sensory impairment in mainstream schools (author, 2012). The aim was to explore to what extent the young people were socially included in the mainstream environment and to identify any barriers to their participation. I used EST (Bronfenbrenner, 1979) as the theoretical framework for the study and accordingly perceived the mainstream school as a system, components of which continuously interact and influence social inclusion. The aim of this article is to argue that the conceptual framework of EST is a valuable tool for research exploring inclusion in education of learners with SEN/D, because it helps the researcher focus on the crucial interplay between the individual and the context, in which the individual is embedded. Challenges for researchers adopting this framework are also considered.
Keywords: ecological systems theory, qualitative research, inclusive education, special educational needs, disabilities
Copyright: The re-publishing of this paper on GLOBI’s site is with the exclusive permission of Pedagogy. Any citation needs to provide the following reference to the journal:
Kamenopoulou, L., (2016) ‘Ecological Systems Theory: a Valuable Framework for Research on Inclusion and Special Educational Needs/Disabilities’, Pedagogy: Bulgarian Journal of Educational Research and Practice, vol. 88, 4, pp. 515-527.
Dr Leda Kamenopoulou is a Senior Lecturer in Special and Inclusive Education at the University of Roehampton in London and a Fellow of the UK Higher Education Academy.
She holds a Ph.D. on SEN and Inclusion from the Institute of Education, University of London. Her doctoral thesis focused on the social outcomes of mainstream inclusive education for young people with a dual sensory impairment (see Kamenopoulou, 2012).
Leda has worked as a research fellow, research advisor and visiting lecturer in UK and overseas Institutions. Her current research interests are centred on the preparation of teachers from different contexts for inclusive education (see Kamenopoulou et al, 2015). She is an academic member of Atiner and a member of the Editorial Board for the IAFOR Journal of Education.