Changing the Face of Student Teaching Through Coteaching

Spring, 2010

Source: Action in Teacher Education v. 32 no. 1 (Spring 2010) p. 3-14.
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)

This article describes a 4-year study which identifies the differences between a coteaching and a non-coteaching model of student teaching.

Research Questions

The initial research focused on the difference in math and reading achievement between K-6 students in cotaught and non-cotaught settings. However, additional research questions emerged in the 2nd year, which led to the current research questions:

Are there differences in the math and reading achievement of K-6 students in cotaught student-teaching settings as compared to non-cotaught student teaching and classrooms where there is a single licensed teacher?
Are there differences in math and reading achievement of K-6 students eligible for special services (special education, free and reduced-price lunch, and English-language learners) in cotaught student-teaching settings as compared to non-cotaught student teaching and classrooms where there is a single licensed teacher?

The study of academic impact took place in the St. Cloud Area School District over 4 years (2004-2008).
The participants were teacher candidates placed with cooperating teachers in which both members had participated in the two coteaching workshops. This group consisted of 149 pairs in Year 1, 203 pairs in Year 2, 231 pairs in Year 3, and 243 pairs in Year 4, for a total of 826 pairs.

To thoroughly examine the impact of coteaching on K-6 learner outcomes, two academic measures were employed: the Minnesota Comprehensive Assessment (MCA) and the research edition of the Woodcock-Johnson III (WJIII-RE).
As another source of data, more than 400 students in Grades K-6 were interviewed in focus groups over the course of the 4-year project.


The coteaching model of student teaching allows children increased opportunities to get help when and how they need it. It affords teachers an opportunity to incorporate coteaching strategies, grouping, and teaching students in ways that are not possible with just one teacher. The coteaching model has been used at all grade and content levels, and it works with any curriculum.

The findings from the MCA indicated a statistically significant increase in academic performance in reading and math proficiency for students in a cotaught classroom as compared to students in a non-cotaught classroom. The WJIII-RE showed a statistically significant gain in all 4 years in reading and in 2 of the 4 years in math.

Qualitative research also supports the use of coteaching. Feedback received from students in focus groups indicated that coteaching is a positive experience.
Students reported that coteaching provides exposure to two styles of teaching, fewer classroom disruptions, and improved student behavior.
Furthermore, findings from this study highlight the benefits of coteaching in student teaching for special populations.

This study clearly establishes the positive impact of the coteaching model of student teaching. Teacher candidates, when paired with cooperating teachers and trained in coteaching, increase the academic achievement of students in the classroom.

Teacher preparation institutions should be challenged to rethink the student-teaching portion of their programs to better prepare teachers to meet the needs of the learners they will serve. Likewise, partner schools that work with teacher preparation institutions are urged to consider the use of coteaching during the student-teaching experience as an academic benefit for students.

Updated: Jun. 13, 2011