Date of Award

8-1-2013

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Department

Educational Psychology

First Advisor

Bruns, Deborah

Abstract

The purpose of this exploratory study was to determine the perceptions of co-teachers concerning their professional development needs for co-teaching and to determine the level of training they received to prepare them for co-teaching. Sixty-one co-teachers (general education teachers: n=36, 59%; special education teachers: n=25, 41%) in the state of Kentucky completed the Professional Development for Co-teaching Survey for Teachers (PDCST). Survey data demonstrated mean ratings for 14 content-related items ranging from 5.57 to 7.31 indicating teachers generally perceived all were important to their professional development. The items identified as the most critical content were: co-teaching strategies that allow both co-teachers to play active instructional roles, strategies for sharing roles and responsibilities among co-teachers, strategies for building and sustaining co-teaching partnerships, and co-teaching formats. Teachers also identified content area training and planning for co-teaching in open ended queries. Second, co-teachers prioritized content, formats, and follow-up activities for professional development. Top content priorities included strategies for building and sustaining co-teaching partnerships, co-teaching formats, and strategies for sharing roles and responsibilities. Participants identified single day workshops, multiple day workshops, and professional learning communities as their top professional development formats. Top follow-up activities were observing experienced co-teachers, additional professional development, and mentoring from an experienced co-teacher or co-teaching team. Co-teachers validated suggestions on professional development for co-teaching. The items with the highest validation included: train co-teachers prior to co-teaching, train co-teachers with their co-teaching partners, and provide three to five days of preparation for co-teachers. Additionally, the following suggestions were made: include planning time during and after training, provide opportunities for practice and feedback during and after training, and provide opportunities for teachers to observe model co-teaching teams. Lastly, nearly half the co-teachers (n=28, 46.7%) reported receiving no professional development for co-teaching. Sixteen teachers (26.2%) reported between one to six hours of training, while seven (11.5%) reported having between seven to 12 hours. The results may be used to guide professional developers and teacher educators in preparing future and current co-teachers. Additionally, recommendations for training, policy, and future research are provided.

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