In our final group assignment for the Master of Arts in Educational Technology program, we had to develop, plan, implement, and analyze a research project. Myself, Michele Meshover and Drew Missureli chose to dive into the effectiveness of different co-teaching models.
Given our constraints, constructing and disseminating the project in less than one month, we had to modify our question, and identify a methodology that was “doable.” The purpose of this project was not to find out what models are effective. In fact, the purpose was not about the results at all. We were focused on the process of researching, and simply used this topic as a test balloon, to see where it would float, and what it would help us find.
Ideal to Modified
For this project to be successful, we had to take our ideal question, and modify it. We started with “What model makes co-teaching most effective?” but found quickly that this question was too broad, and invited too many unwanted variables into a study with limited time and resources. While we would love to know this answer, it wasn’t realistic given the constraints. We narrowed our question to “What factors influence educators when deciding which co-teaching models to implement in the classroom?” which was more manageable.
During the process of narrowing our question down, we did research on what was currently out there. We were disappointed to find that research on co-teaching models is rare. We did find, that the relationships between co-teachers and the factors that influence co-teaching were studied more significantly. This is what helped lead us to our modified question. We looked specifically at the research trajectory of Marilyn Friend and Lynne Cook to help us narrow our focus.
We used a mixed methodology to collect qualitative and quantitative data. We chose to create a survey on Google Forms, because we knew this was an easy tool for educators to engage with. We allowed this survey to be anonymous, and kept it to 13 questions. We sent out our survey on Twitter, rather than an email blast or on other social media, because we believe Twitter is a platform for professional development for educators and is frequented by teachers with experience.
We thought that given the limitations of this study, a survey was the best possible option to gather information quickly. We chose to embed both multiple choice questions and open ended questions. Given the different variables that can affect co-teaching effectiveness, it was imperative that we allow flexibility in our questioning, so that teachers could accurately describe their experience.
- Created the survey on Google Forms
- Piloted the survey with outside educators
- Made changes/adjustments based on feedback
- Pushed the survey out on Twitter
- Reached out to additional educators to take survey
Results were automatically collected on a Google Form, all quantitative data was put together into charts/graphs. We coded for themes within the open ended question portion, and identified additional quantitative data from that, as well as pulled qualitative data from responses. Our results were then analyzed and embedded into our infographic.
Limitations and Future Direction
We were limited by the time of year, the amount of time we had to gather the data, our own lack of clear definition of co-teaching, and some ambiguous questions. We believe that with those changes, we would get a more accurate picture of the situation in each classroom.
From the results in this survey, we saw that the most impactful factor on effectiveness of co-teaching is the relationship between the two adults. We believe that for further study, it would be beneficial to do several case studies on co-teaching relationships, in different settings. We believe the best way to collect this data would be to use mixed methods: observation and interviews. This would be most beneficial if done over the course of an entire year, while collecting additional quantitative data on their planning time in the summer and school year.
Implications to MY Practice
The upcoming school year will be my second in the profession. I will be co-teaching for the first time, in an eighth grade math class. I have only briefly met my co-teaching partner, a special education teacher for many years in the district. After this study, I know that the relationship I build with my co-teaching partner is paramount to our success as a team. I will be ensuring that we have scheduled planning time each week, and that we are truly collaborating on our plans, and utilizing both of our skill sets fully.
DISCLAIMER: The results from this survey SHOULD NOT be taken as fact. This was a “test” project, with a small sample size, and with no formal affiliation to a research organization.