Promoting Self-Determination in Disability: Reflective Practice for Future Educators

Proceedings of The 6th International Conference on Innovative Research in Education

Year: 2023



Promoting Self-Determination in Disability: Reflective Practice for Future Educators

Silvia Zanazzi




Regarding people with intellectual disabilities, self-determination can be defined as the capability to be a primary causal agent in one’s life, making choices and decisions regarding one’s quality of life free from undue external influence or interference. In Italy, degree courses in education sciences prepare future educators who can work, among others, with people with disabilities of all ages. In the third and final year of the course, students must engage in a curricular traineeship in the field. Students enrolled in the degree course in Education Sciences at the University of Ferrara, during their traineeship experience, participate in two group supervision meetings moderated by a professor. Before the meeting, each of them must write and share a reflection on lived experience in the course virtual Classroom. Three types of contributions are possible: simple observation, description of a good practice, and description of a critical incident. Analyzing critical incidents is a training strategy that helps people clarify their beliefs and understand, through comparison with different perspectives, the value assumptions that guide their own and others’ behaviors. During the supervision meeting, the group analyzes critical incidents starting from three key questions: What is the main problem? Who should take charge of this problem? What could/should be done? The paper, starting from analyzing some critical incidents narrated by the trainees, shows how to restructure conservative thought into transformative thought and action, promoting the self-determination of people with intellectual disabilities at different stages of life. Thinking of people with disabilities as capable of self-determination is the first step in building conditions favorable to self-determination itself. Reflective practice can significantly impact achieving this goal

keywords: intellectual disability, self-determination, educator, quality of life, traineeship