The passage of current educational legislation such as the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and the more recent No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act has increased the desire for greater inclusion of students with disabilities in regular classrooms. Serving the need of all students in inclusive classrooms presents great challenges to educators. Related literature suggests that one way to overcome this inclusion challenge involves having two teachers (a general educator and a special educator) co-teach in inclusive classrooms; however, research also suggests that many teachers do not feel prepared to co-teach effectively. More specifically, the literature reveals that preservice teachers rarely practice co-teaching as part of their student teaching experience - something that is arguably an important component of teacher preparation.
Employing action research as a methodology, this study was completed to explore how to best include a co-teaching student teaching placement experience in an inclusion elementary teacher preparation program, in order to better prepare inclusion pre-service teachers for co-teaching. The project included an intervention that provided both a solo and co-teaching student teaching placement for each of the eight participants. Another part of this project involved designing sections of the accompanying student teaching seminar in order to specifically address issues related to co-teaching. Data from these experiences were collected and analyzed to learn more about the benefits and limitations of these interventions.
The following research questions guided this study: (1) What are the needs and concerns of student teachers as they co-teach in an inclusive placement? (2) What strategies help student teachers be more successful and comfortable in an inclusive, co-teaching placement? (3) What support can accompanying seminars offer to support student teachers in an inclusive, co-teaching placement? (4) How does the experience of co-teaching with another student teacher compare with the experience of student teaching in a solo placement?
7 complementary data sources were used in the study: a preliminary assignment done through email; audiotapes of the six seminar sessions; bi-weekly reflective journals done by the participants; field notes of classroom observations; a final summary reflective journal completed by each participant via email; a summary open-ended questionnaire for the supervising teachers in the co-teaching placements sent through email; and a researcher's joual. Qualitative analysis was used to analyze the data with the goal of revealing emergent themes that directly address the four research questions.
Lave and Wenger's Situated Learning Theory and Mezirow's Transformative Learning Theory provided the theories that frame the study. The participants were active participants and gave input around the formation of discussion topics and seminar activities that supported them through the co-teaching placement.
|School:||University of Rochester|
|School Location:||United States -- New York|
|Source:||DAI-A 70/07, Dissertation Abstracts International|
|Keywords:||Coteaching, Inclusion, Preservice teachers|
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