Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Document Type



Student engagement in the classroom is a priority for educators and policy makers because disengaged students are more likely to perform poorly in school. Students with disabilities, particularly those with high-incidence disabilities, are a subset of that population of potentially disengaged and definitely poor-performing students. When attending school, they are served increasingly in inclusive, co-taught settings, allowing for inquiry into engagement practices in these instructional arrangements. One purpose of this study was document levels of student engagement for six commonly described co-teaching models implemented in a teacher education course for both special education and general education preservice teacher candidates and inservice special education teachers. A single subject alternating treatments design was implemented to address the following research question: What are the levels, variability, and trends of total (active and passive) engagement for six co-teaching models described in the professional literature? A second overall purpose of the study was to ascertain participant preferences and perceptions of co-teaching models after implementing and/or observing implementation. Three research questions were addressed descriptively and qualitatively: (a) what do participants view as benefits/strengths of co-teaching? (b) what do participants view as weaknesses of co-teaching? and (c) what model(s) do participants prefer? A third overall purpose was to ascertain if there were statistically significant and meaningful differences in gain scores across co-teaching models for content taught using the models during the teacher education course. Repeated measures analysis of variance procedures were used to test for differences in gain scores for each model individually as well as for models that incorporated large group (team teaching, one teach/one assist, one teach/one observe) or small group (station teaching, parallel teaching, alternative teaching) implementation formats. Overall findings indicated that, first, engagement levels of students were higher in co-teaching models that reduced the teacher to student ratio. That is, station teaching, parallel teaching, and alternative teaching formats collectively, produced higher levels of engagement than the combination of one teach/one assist, one teach/one observe, and teaming. Second, station teaching and teaming were the most preferred models of the participants surveyed. Common themes in the identification of strengths and benefits included co-teaching increasing the amount of individual attention, allowing for a variety of teaching methods, and allowing for collaboration between teachers. Noise level and unequal distribution of tasks were the common themes identified as weaknesses of co-teaching. Finally, measurement of participant gain scores across repeated co-teaching model implementations indicated that statistically significant and small in magnitude differences were noted across models. That is, in evaluating pre/post gain scores on content tests for individual models, there was a difference between station teaching and the remaining co-teaching models, with the difference dependent upon what time the students were tested. Moreover, results suggested that there was a difference between co-teaching models that utilized small or large group, with students receiving instruction in small groups showing stronger gains than those taught in larger groups, again with these differences dependent upon the time students were tested. Research limitations are presented as are implications for co-teaching practice and teacher education.



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Committee Chair

Mooney, Paul



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