Dissertations, Theses and Capstone Projects

Date of Award

Summer 2011

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Teacher Leadership (Ed.D)


Teacher Leadership for Learning

First Advisor

Dr. Susan Brown

Second Advisor

Dr. Deborah Wallace

Third Advisor

Dr. Binyao Zheng

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Cassandra Allen


"I think that my kids have been very successful in the inclusion classroom this year. I have a seen a lot of growth" (SL). This statement was from a special education teacher who served students with disabilities in the general education math classroom. This teacher collaborates with the general education math teacher. For this co-teaching team, the experience has been a positive one. The purpose of this mixed-methods study was to research the collaboration of co-teachers, like SL and her team-mate, in a suburban elementary school, uncovering benefits and costs of collaboration.

Data was collected over one school year utilizing quantitative data collection such as math benchmark assessments; and qualitative data such as observation checklists, and structured interviews. The focus of the research analysis was trifold. Foremost, to disclose factors teachers reported to facilitate and hinder both the collaborative process and student achievement. Secondly, to determine what effect student disability status and teaching environment had on math progress attainment. Finally, the research was to highlight the strength of the relationship, if it exists, between instruction method, disability status and progress attainment.

The results of this study indicated that students without disabilities (GENED) in inclusion classrooms progressed as well as or above the mean of students without disabilities (GENED) within the non-inclusion classroom in third grade, fourth grade and fifth grade. Results also indicated that the rate of progress attainment was higher for students with disabilities (SWD) in inclusion classrooms than for students with disabilities (SWD) in non-inclusion classrooms. In third grade, the difference was 21%. In fourth grade, the difference was 10% and in fifth grade, the difference was 9%.

Throughout the research process, the teacher-researcher gathered a great deal of valuable information about collaboration and co-teaching. The teacher-researcher discovered, through her direct participation, that you must be willing to compromise, collaborate, and cooperate in order for co-teaching to be successful and to have an impact on student progress attainment. Collaboration of co-teachers is a self-less practice with enormous potential for promoting academic achievement for all levels of learners.