Ebony Briggs Dissertation Final Defense

The College of Education announces the final Dissertation of

Ebony Briggs

for the degree of Doctor of Education

March 28, 2018 at 10:30 am  / 123 Ball Hall

Major Advisor: Wendy Griswold, PhD


ABSTRACT: Special education teachers and general education teachers are charged with working collaboratively in a single classroom that serves the diverse needs of all children due to federal regulations such as the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act of 2004. Evidence based practices that foster collaboration are scare. The purpose of this qualitative, narrative inquiry research, therefore was to explore the perceptions of a team of educators which consists of a general education teacher, special education teacher, and an administrator on how their experience of participating in a community of practice is beneficial to addressing collaboration needs of team teachers in an inclusive environment. Within this purpose, the intent was to explore the value of learning that is attached to social learning and participation within a community of practice. Although the administrator is not directly a part of this co-teaching team, the addition of an administrator as a study participant supports the notion that administrator support is a key factor in establishing a collaborative culture. The research questions that guided this study were: 1. How does a collaborative teaching team’s experience of participating in a community of practice provide insight into their perspectives of collaboration? 2. How does participating in a community of practice help or hinder the experience of the collaborative teaching team in the inclusion environment? 3. To what extent does a collaborative teaching team feel a sense of success in the inclusive environment as a result of participating in a community of practice? Through in-depth semi-structured interviews, observations, and document analysis, participants were able to provide insight about their experiences and explain how the collaborative practice was successful in creating a more inclusive environment for students with disabilities in the general education environment. The common themes to emerge from the data collection was that participating in a community of practice helped create a positive outlook on collaborative practice, helped to create shared responsibility, helped to increase administrative support of co-teaching teams, helped overcome the challenges of common planning for co-teachers, and it helped strengthen relationships among co-teachers.

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