Source: Teacher Education and Special Education, Volume 31, No. 2, 2008, p. 118-131
(Reviewed by The Portal Team)
General education and special education teacher candidates lack experience in collaborating with each other as colleagues; however, upon graduating and entering their own classrooms, most are expected to know how to provide services to students with disabilities in the general classroom. This study describes the efforts of two professors, one in special education and the other in English education, to have their students participate in a collaborative and consultative relationship with each other at the pre-service level.
Participants consisted of both special education and general education teacher candidates. The special education majors (n = 8, all females) were completing their course work and Level Three practicum in preparation for their final internship the following semester. Special education majors are required to complete three practicums prior to their final internship or full time student-teaching. At each practicum level, teacher candidates spend one to two full days a week at a school. Level One and Level Two practicums are at an elementary setting and focus on the school community, behavior management, and instruction. The Level Three practicum takes place at a secondary setting and focuses on instruction and assessment. General education teacher candidates
(n = 21, 3 males and 18 females) were undergraduate English education majors and were in the first or second semester of their junior year. English education majors participate in practicums, which are imbedded within courses and require them to observe and teach approximately three hours per week for two semesters prior to their final internship. Of the 21 general education majors, only 16 were partnered to co-teach with a special education major. The special education majors were randomly assigned to their general education partners.
Data are comprised of pre- and post-surveys, as well as weekly written reflections by the teacher candidates. Significant differences were found across programs and within the English education program. Reflections reveal differing participant perceptions of the co-teaching experience.
Findings indicate exposure to co-teaching at the pre-service level provides an opportunity to address the roles and responsibilities of general and special educators in working together to ensure academic success for all learners.