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Co-Teaching in Inclusive Secondary English Language Arts Classrooms: A Study of Three Partnerships

Bernstein-Danis, Tabetha (2013) Co-Teaching in Inclusive Secondary English Language Arts Classrooms: A Study of Three Partnerships. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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This study aims to explore the development of co-teaching partnerships between secondary English language arts (ELA) and special education teachers and the manner in which the co-teachers deliver literacy instruction for students with diverse abilities in inclusive secondary ELA classrooms. The study explores the uses of both best practices in ELA (e.g., Atwell, 1998; Nystrand et al. 2003) and scaffolding techniques (Wood, Bruner, & Ross, 1976) that serve to help students work in their zones of proximal development (Vygotsky, 1986). Furthermore, it considers the affordances and limitations of certain kinds of instruction and scaffolding in the offered by three partnerships in two classrooms at the same school. The study offers a contextually-bound portrait of co-teaching in secondary English education and brings together two bodies of research: best practices in co-teaching and inclusive instruction and best practices in ELA instruction.
Findings suggest that even in schools with co-teaching models that are considered “successful,” limited teacher training, planning time, and ongoing support for co-teaching may prove problematic in several ways: special education teachers may still end up serving in a support rather than co-teaching role, new partnerships may falter, and stronger partnerships may be the result of idiosyncratic factors beyond the control of a local education agency (e.g., the development of a close friendship between co-teachers) and therefore prove difficult to replicate. Further, the perception of strong co-teaching partnerships and rigorous instruction may lead to lowered expectations and an overuse of scaffolding in inclusive classrooms, particularly when all students in the classroom are seen as “struggling” students by the teachers. These findings suggest that in even schools and districts that appear to have successful co-teaching models and classrooms that appear to provide all students with rigorous ELA instruction, deeper investigation may reveal the need for intervention and support such as increased communication between administrators and co-teachers and training in the use of tools and techniques that enable co-teachers to recognize possible barriers to rigorous instruction.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairGodley, Amandaagodley@pitt.eduAGODLEY
Committee MemberEnoch,
Committee MemberLemons, Christopherlemons@pitt.eduLEMONS
Committee MemberThein,
Date: 10 January 2013
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 24 August 2012
Approval Date: 10 January 2013
Submission Date: 11 December 2012
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 473
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: School of Education > Instruction and Learning
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: co-teaching English language arts secondary education special education inclusion literacy
Date Deposited: 10 Jan 2013 15:09
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 14:08


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