Source: Professional Development in Education, 46:5, 770-779
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)
The aims of this study were to explore what co-teaching training should be like for pre-service teachers and to consider how such training might inspire pre-service teachers to develop a positive attitude towards using it.
The following hypothesis and questions were formulated to guide the research.
Those students who receive conceptual training and the opportunity to co-teach (group 2) or receive explanations from a fellow student’s experience (group 3) improve their attitudes and willingness to use co-teaching in a pre-post test measurement, more than students who only receive the training (group 1).
This improvement is especially apparent in group 2, where they have both practiced co-teaching and shared their experiences.
Having established the positive relation between the perception of improvement in learning (in both student-teachers and pupils) as a mechanism to change their conceptions and attitudes towards co-teaching, the following two research questions were asked to explain the possible quantitative changes of the hypothesis more clearly:
(1) How do the student-teachers from group 2, who have co-taught in the practicum, interpret the repercussions it has had on their own learning during the different stages (the planning, the instructing and the assessing stage)?
(2) How do these group 2 student-teachers interpret the repercussion that co-teaching has had on the pupils’ learning processes? What evidence do they have to support this?
This research has chosen an explanatory sequential mixed design (Creswell 2015), combining a quasi pre-post test experimental design to detect changes in attitudes and willingness to use coteaching, with a qualitative study, based on analyzing what the students who co-taught perceived at the end of the process which allowed the changes identified quantitatively to be explained.
The sample, 107 students in the third year of their degree in Education at the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, was divided into three groups: Group 1 (n = 54), received initial conceptual training on co-teaching; group 2 (n = 29), received this same training, but also experimented with it in the classroom; and group 3 (n = 24) received pre-service conceptual training and participated in a peer tutoring session with a classmate from group 2, who explained his experience to them.
The following instruments were used for the purpose of the study:
● An adapted questionnaire on co-teaching (CTQ).
The adapted questionnaire has three parts:
a) the student’s previous experience in co-teaching;
b) the attitudes and conceptions they hold on co-teaching; and
c) the benefits and difficulties detected in the development of co-teaching.
The first part contains multi-choice questions and the third consists of opened-ended answers to questions on the benefits and difficulties of co-teaching with respect to three areas: students, teachers and the institution.
● Final written reports:
The student-teachers reflected on the development of co-teaching in the practicum at the end of the course.
This activity contained two direct questions to be answered freely on
1) the students’ learning experience during the planning, instructing and assessment stages and
2) the repercussion of co-teaching on primary school pupils’ learning, with evidence to support their answers.
● Pupil satisfaction questionnaire:
There were four questions in the quantitative section of the questionnaire, which used a Likert scale for the answers.
The questions focused on whether they and their classmates had learned more and if they had a clearer understanding of what they had to do.
The qualitative part contained two questions focusing on what they felt were the negative or positive effects of having two teachers in the classroom.
Collecting and analysing the data
At the beginning of the first term (before co-teaching began), the CTQ questionnaire was distributed to all students in a preformat and afterwards, conceptual co-teaching training was discussed in the subjects.
Extra reading material was also provided.
At the beginning of the second term, in Practicum II, students from group 2 designed and co-taught in schools with another student-teacher.
Learning guidelines were provided to help them, they were supervised by the teachers responsible for the subject and had the approval of the class teacher.
The data collected in the student-teachers’ final written reports were transcribed and analysed qualitatively using the Grounded Theory.
The students’ replies in the final reports were based on the evidence they collected while coteaching.
They used their personal experience and the work with their co-teaching partner to answer the first question, and used the pupil satisfaction questionnaire, distributed at the end of their sessions, to answer the second.
In addition, assessment activities used in class and the information they had collected from daily observation and listening in the sessions were also taken into consideration.
At the end of the second term, students in groups 2 and 3 participated in a peer-tutorial at the University.
The session was led by the university teachers, who provided them with material. Students in group 2 adopted the role of tutor and shared, with students in group 3, who were the tutees, what they had learned during the co-teaching practicum, the difficulties they had encountered and the solutions they had found.
Once they had completed all the sessions, the participants answered the CTQ questionnaire in post-test format.
Results and discussion
The results show that, while students’ attitudes and willingness towards co-teaching have improved in all three groups, those who improved the most were the students who either had the opportunity to co-teach in their practicum and also received theoretical training or received explanations from a colleague who had co-taught.
Changes in attitudes and a willingness to adopt co-teaching practices are greater in students who have co-taught, probably because they understand the advantages of this methodology.
They remark that co-teaching has taught them skills, such as teamwork and the ability to implement more elaborate lessons, which will serve them in their teaching career.
One of the most salient aspects is the opportunity to learn by collaborative design, which corroborates studies that reinforce the idea that teacher involvement in the collaborative curriculum design is a form of professional development (Voogt et al. 2015).
The student-teachers who co-taught also feel that pupils benefitted, because they could offer more help and could adapt it to the needs of the pupils.
This idea is supported by the pupils’ answers in the questionnaire.
The results are especially relevant however, when student-teachers receive conceptual training and explanations from a fellow student who has co-taught, because their attitudes and willingness improve the most, even more than colleagues who have co-taught.
Evidently, first-hand experience from a colleague who, with supervision and help, has co-taught, influences attitudes and encourages using this methodology.
Further analysis of the data and an examination of the causes and their lasting effects are of course necessary, but the results do allow the authors to feel optimistic about co-teaching’s educational implications.
Without doubt, above and beyond the conceptual training the University can offer students on co-teaching, the opportunity to practice it is limited, not only because individual pre-service teaching practice has to be offered, but also because supervising co-teaching is more complex.
A further study focusing on how to implement co-teaching practice in the curriculum of pre-service teachers is suggested.
The positive results from the student teachers who chose the co-teaching option opens up a perspective, which can guarantee the sustainable incorporation of this method into pre-service teacher training.
Creswell, J.W., 2015. A concise introduction to mixed methods research. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.
Voogt, J., et al., 2015. Collaborative design as a form of professional development. Instructional science, 43 (2), 259–282.