The sphere of education is one of the most important nowadays, and at the moment, the efficiency of explored approaches is one of the major concerns of the society. The fact is that the enhanced demands for the quality of education and its specific character introduce the need for new methods of teaching that will be able to combine different fields of science and knowledge to attain positive outcomes (Gately & Gately, 2001). Under these conditions, the approach called co-education acquires the top priority in the modern educational sphere. Thus, the given paper supports the thesis that co-teaching demonstrates the high efficiency in different settings and is positively evaluated by educators if they have appropriate collaborative skills.
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Nevertheless, the continuous cooperation between two or more educators with the central aim to organize, instruct, and make assessments on the same group of pupils could be determined as co-teaching (Gately & Gately, 2001). Today, co-teaching between general and special educators become a common method to deliver services and ensure that all pupils will understand the presented material (Loiacono & Valenti, 2010). In such a way, the efficiency of the approach is stipulated by the teamwork of several specialists who possess an outstanding authority in different spheres (Gerlach, 2017). Combining their perspectives on the delivery of educational service and sharing experience, they result in the appearance of a new working environment characterized by enhanced results (Magieram, Smith, Zigmond, & Gebauer, 2005).
Thus, as it comes from the definition, co-teaching presupposes the close cooperation and establishment of specific relations between all educators who use the model. There are eight components of a co-teaching relationship that impact the final result and should be considered when speaking about the efficiency of the approach and its potential impact on students. These are interpersonal communication, physical arrangement, familiarity with the curriculum, goals, instructional planning, presentation, classroom management, assessment (Gately & Gately, 2001). All these aspects are critical for the enhanced outcomes and successful implementation of co-teaching into real-life conditions. However, Murawski and Swanson (2001) admit that the inclusion of all these components with the primary aim to create a joint approach becomes one of the most important tasks of educators nowadays. However, there are different perspectives on the way how co-teaching could be used and introduced. Moreover, teachers readiness to engage in this sort of relations could also be doubted.
Regarding the information mentioned above, the pivotal aim of this literature review is filling the gap in knowledge about co-teaching and educators readiness to participate in this specific activity. At the same time, the scientific literature and research works related to the issue suggest diverse perspectives on it and teachers experiences about working with other specialists. For this reason, analyzing the sources selected for the given review, we will be able to compare the existing findings and discuss them regarding the efficiency of co-teaching and specialists readiness. Another specific purpose of this literature review is to find credible evidence about the enhanced efficiency of the suggested approach in terms of modern society and the complexity of tasks students and their educators might be offered.
Nevertheless, today co-teaching could be implemented at different grade levels and under conditions if educators think its use can stipulate appropriate results. However, the most common areas of its exploration are elementary and middle schools (Nierengarten & Hughes, 2010). At the same time, students with disabilities might also have the need for a specific education during their middle or high school (Obiakor, Harris, Mutua, Rotatori, & Algozzine, 2012). For this reason, teachers can use co-teaching to meet special pupils needs at the secondary level. At the high-school, the method might face numerous challenges because of the peculiarities of the environment and individuals needs. For this reason, the investigation of the issue within this literature review might help to reveal these problems and teachers actions to overcome potential barriers that might appear.
At the same time, despite all problems that might appear during the implementation of the co-teaching approach into the real-life setting and its further use, the efficiency of the method is proven by students positive responses. However, the teachers opinions regarding the approach are mixed (Pratt, Imbody, Wolf, & Patterson, 2016). In other words, different educators demonstrate various perspectives on the further development of co-teaching and its apparently positive impact on the educational sphere. This diversity in attitudes is preconditioned by the complexity of the tool and significant differences in teachers readiness and beliefs about co-teaching. For this reason, the more comprehensive investigation of the efficiency of the method might be needed to prove its promising character and necessity of its use in diverse conditions.
Nevertheless, co-teachings efficiency is not apparent if to speak about complex cases and specific conditions. For instance, providing meaningful education to children or students with disabilities might become complicated by numerous additional factors that should be taken into account by an educator (“The effectiveness of co-teaching model. Literature review,” 2012). In such a way, a question of whether co-teaching could be effectively implemented into the work with disabled students to provide them with the needed knowledge becomes topical. There are diverse perspectives on this. In such a way, the literature review assesses teachers beliefs about the possible effect the method might have on different groups of students and how it affects their academic successes.
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Finally, co-teaching creates the basis for vigorous debates related to other innovative methods of teaching and providing students with materials and knowledge they might need (Friend & Barron, 2016). Today, there is a wide array of tools educators could use to attain enhanced results. However, their implementation might demand the use of practices and approaches different from co-teaching (Solis, Vaughn, Swanson, & Mcculley, 2012). At the same time, the use of new elements of teaching could be combined with the co-teaching method to obtain better results and ensure that all groups of students including those with disabilities will be able to acquire needed knowledge. For this reason, the given literature review also suggests the comprehensive investigation of the issue regarding other approaches and teachers perspectives on the way co-teaching could be used.
Thus, the created literature review covers some most important aspects of co-teaching. It provides an in-depth overview of educators beliefs related to the implementation, use, and effectiveness of the suggested approach. Moreover, teachers readiness and understanding of the basic peculiarities and modules of co-teaching is covered. Finally, the document reveals the issue of professional needs that might appear in terms of the implementation of co-teaching. Altogether, the primary purpose of the document is filling the gap in knowledge about the method, its peculiarities and effect, and educators’ perspectives on it.
Speaking about co-teaching, first of all, it is important to determine teachers attitude to it. Thus, Austin (2001) used one hundred thirty-nine collaborative teachers from nine school districts in New Jersey to analyze their beliefs about the approach. The researcher explored a single survey approach to collect needed information. Findings show that the majority of teachers consider co-teaching worthwhile (Austin, 2001). Additionally, respondents agreed that general education co-teachers do more than their special education partners to implement the approach (Austin, 2001). In such a way, a particular difference in perspectives, duties, attitudes, and responsibilities could be observed. Hang and Rabren (2009) are also interested in the examination of co-teaching and the central indicators of its efficiency. They conducted their study between 31 general and 14 special education teachers who had just started using co-teaching (Hang & Rabren, 2009). Using the data collected with the help of a survey, researchers admit positive attitudes to co-teaching both among students and teachers (Hang & Rabren, 2009). Moreover, the method becomes extremely efficient regarding disabled students and their specific problems.
Continuing investigation of the issue, Pancsofar and Petroff in the article Professional Development Experiences in Co-Teaching raise the question of the correlation between particular qualities of teachers and outcomes. Using an online survey among 129 teachers from five districts in the Mid-Atlantic state, the authors collect the data proving that professional development of co-teaching is associated with each teacher’s outcome (Pancsofar & Petroff, 2013). Additionally, educators who had opportunities to improve their understanding of co-teaching from in-service teaching were more interested in co-teaching and demonstrated better attitudes to it. In such a way, the paper reveals the dependence between teachers readiness and co-teacher outcomes along with the beliefs about it.
The significance of the creation of an effective co-teaching relationship and environment is also empathized by Indelicato in her research. The central aim of her study is to determine the most efficient way to enhance collaborative teaching relationships (Indelicato, 2014). During her investigation, Indelicato assesses 1st through 4th-grade teachers to evaluate their attitude and readiness to engage in co-teaching relations (Indelicato, 2014). The bigger part of the participants admitted the direct correlation between a degree to which they were successful in cooperation and communication and their attitude to the method and their overall success. In such a way, to build an effective relationship between co-teaches additional training and an increase in their readiness are needed.
Factors that could promote or hinder the use of co-teaching are also investigated by Chitiyo. 77 teachers participated in this research. 67 of them were general education teachers, 14 had a bachelors degree, and the rest of the individuals worked in inclusive classrooms (Chitiyo, 2017). Using the questionnaire with the sections about demographics, experiences in co-teaching, the ways educators learned about it, and barriers to the implementation of the method, the researcher come to a conclusion that the majority of obstacles or negative attitudes are preconditioned by the low level of competence (Chitiyo, 2017). For this reason, educators readiness should be trained to guarantee positive outcomes.
As for the challenges that might appear during the implementation of co-teaching in inclusive classrooms, Hussin and Hamdan support the idea that the poor culture of collaboration and the lack of administrative support might be considered central obstacles educators face (2016). Data from 162 respondents (150 teachers, 30 parents, and 60 administrators) in Malaysia prove the overall efficiency of the method if it is supported by the appropriate alterations in teachers’ behaviors and skills (Hussin & Hamdan, 2016).
The importance of teachers readiness to collaborate and contribute to positive outcomes of co-teaching is also touched upon by Hamilton-Jones and Vail (2014). To collect information about pre-service teachers beliefs and ideas about collaboration, the authors used data provided by twelve paraprofessionals working regarding the given approach (Hamilton-Jones & Vail, 2014). Results show that educators have diverse perspectives on the definition of collaboration which might create particular barriers in the future use of co-teaching and collaborative practices. It also means that additional training aimed at the creation of an enhanced understanding of collaboration between teachers results in better attitudes to co-teaching and good academic success in students.
Investigation of co-teaching and educators attitudes to it is also the main theme of the paper by Scruggs, Mastropieri, and McDuffie (2007). Trying to understand the attitude specialists have towards the method they conduct thirty-two qualitative investigations of co-teaching in inclusive classrooms (Scruggs et al., 2007). Acquired data shows that the bigger part of educators supports the approach (Scruggs et al., 2007). However, they also outlined numerous needs that should be satisfied to guarantee positive outcomes of co-teaching and create a collaborative setting. These are planning time, student skill level, additional training for teachers, etc. (Scruggs et al., 2007).
Reviewing literature devoted to co-teaching and its peculiarities in different settings, Rice and Zigmond (1999) admit that the given method provides numerous opportunities for educators to improve outcomes and help all students regardless of their cognitive abilities or health status. However, assessing data from different schools in Queensland and Pennsylvania, the researchers emphasize the existence of similar approaches to facilitate the inclusive methods and similar barriers like attitudes rejecting inclusion or administrators unwillingness to give needed resources and time (Rice & Zigmond, 1999). In such a way, the groundwork and additional training among co-teaching specialists become central for success.
To effectively assess the most important aspects of co-teaching, benefits, and emerging problems, Walther-Thomas (1997) conducts a long-term study (three years) and engages twenty-three school-based teams in it. The total number of participants is 143. Data was collected via a semi-structured interview. Findings prove that co-teaching demonstrates high efficiency in students with disabilities and other pupils who participated in the study. Moreover, significant improvement in their self-confidence and self-esteem could be observed. At the same time, many co-teachers reported that their professionals skills improved because of the close cooperation with their experienced colleagues (Walther-Thomas, 1997).
The investigation of teaching attitudes to co-teaching practices is continued by Strogilos. In the paper, the author uses data from 400 surveys completed by educators working with disabled children and from 10 semi-structured interviews (Strogilos, 2016). The results of this research coincide with the previous studies mentioned in the paper and prove the efficiency of the supportive co-teaching model (Strogilos, 2016). At the same time, almost all educators emphasize the need for planning time and administrative support to ensure that they will be able to engage in efficient collaboration to provide students with the needed knowledge.
King-Sears, Brawand, Jenkins, and Preston-Smith (2014) conduct the research devoted to a similar issue. They investigate peculiarities of the co-teachers practice team and their students in a real-life setting with the central aim to determine how each educator perceive different aspects of their teaching experience and what barriers in the delivery of needed services they might observe (King-Sears et al., 2014). Thus, using data from the research, the authors come to the conclusion that science educators most often play leading roles in presenting new information and increase the efficiency of the whole process.
In such a way, we could observe numerous pieces of evidence proving an outstanding efficacy of co-teaching and its positive impact on academic success. However, in the majority of cases, to greater degree results of the intervention depend on the efficiency of collaboration between educators and their readiness to engage in co-teaching. Malian and McRae (2010) prove this assumption. Using results of a statewide survey of Arizona general and special educators teaching in inclusive classes, they come to the conclusion that there is no significant difference between general and special educators on their beliefs and approaches to co-teaching (Malian & McRae, 2010). At the same time, these ideas might be shaped by training and readiness to work in an inclusive environment. Abbye-Taylor (2014) also associates successful co-teaching experiences with the level of teachers preparedness and their attitudes to the suggested method.
Having conducted a phenomenological study among efficient co-teachers and administrators, the author comes to the conclusion that the positive perspective on co-teaching is mainly achieved due to the additional training and educators’ competence in particular spheres (Abbye-Taylor, 2014). For this reason, the majority of scientists agree that teachers demonstrate positive emotions if they attain success and have enough skills. This means that it is fundamental to engage teachers in co-teaching professional development with the primary aim to achieve positive shifts in their attitudes and better outcomes. Shaffer and Brown (2015) prove this idea by organizing two teams of participants consisting of two general teachers and a shared special education teacher. Using informal conversations and interviews, the researchers come to the conclusion that team-work is critical to the ongoing co-teaching professional development and improvement (Shaffer & Brown, 2015). Team-work between educators becomes the key to their positive attitude to co-teaching and success.
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Nevertheless, there are attempts to implement the co-teaching model of instruction into a particular teacher education program to enhance teacher readiness, retention, and preparedness (Huff, 2016). Thus, Huff examines these attempts and their overall impact on the effectiveness of co-teaching. Twenty beginning teachers participated in the study. The results of the research demonstrate that such training might be useful in cultivating enhanced competence among students and the cultivation of their preparedness to perform particular tasks regarding the co-teaching model (Huff, 2016).
Discussing the problem of co-teaching and the most important aspects that appear during its implementation in different settings, Tandon (2016) investigates the co-teaching partnership between Kristin (general educator) and Dan (special educator) and their functioning in the U.S. school. Information was collected with the help of the interview. Thus, Tandon (2016) concludes that prolonged cooperation between co-teaching partners enhance their collaborative practices and result in better outcomes. For this reason, it is recommended not to regroup existing pairs. The efficiency of table pairs of educators is also discussed by Woods (2017) in his research. Interviewing high school teachers of English Language Arts and special educations who engage in collaborative relationships, he comes to the conclusion that long-term cooperation is the key to better attitudes to co-teaching and appropriate outcomes (Woods, 2017).
The given literature review reveals the tendency towards the gradual rise of the significance of co-teaching. Defined as the cooperation between teachers who possess knowledge in different fields, it demonstrates different results that are constantly discussed nowadays. However, the majority of authors mentioned in the review agree that co-teaching shows outstanding results especially regarding students with numerous disabilities. Researchers admit that both students and teachers benefit from the inclusive classroom environment. The first group shows better academic results, social skills, and behavior. As for teachers, engaging in collaborative relations with their experienced colleagues, educators acquire an opportunity to share their perspectives on different methods and ways to deliver services most efficiently.
As for teachers attitudes to co-teaching, they are impacted by the level of their preparedness and readiness to engage in collaboration and work together. All reviewed articles admit that the positive perspective on co-teaching is observed among successful specialists who can work in a team and perfectly realizes the basic aspects of the approach. In such a way, additional training is needed to create the appropriate environment and ensure that educators will be ready to use co-teaching.
Nevertheless, several obstacles appear when implementing the method. These are the lack of time for planning or the absence of administrative support. The majority of respondents who participated in the above-mentioned studies agreed that these two factors might deteriorate final results. Additionally, poor collaborative behavior could also be one of the reasons that stipulate outcomes.
Altogether, the majority of teachers demonstrate a positive attitude toward co-teaching and have correct beliefs related to their basic peculiarities. They could contribute to the further development of the method and it’s becoming one of the most efficient practices. For this reason, additional research is needed to fill remaining gaps in knowledge about how co-teaching could be facilitated in the modern education sphere as its efficiency preconditions the necessity of its further exploration..For this reason, the aim of future research is the methods of the effective implementation of co-teaching in different settings.
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