The research article entitled “General and Special Education Students’ Perceptions of Co-Teaching: Implications for Secondary-Level Literacy Instruction” by Gloria Wilson and Craig Michaels (2007) explains the advantages and disadvantages of co-teaching brought up by many other researchers in the field. This article attempts to explain that many schools are attempting the co-teaching aspect of education in order to improve literacy among special education and general education students. “While initial data suggest that co-teaching can positively influence the academic and social development of all students (Murawski & Swanson, 2001; Sapon-Shevin, 2003), some researchers have expressed concern about the effectiveness of co-teaching on the academic achievement of students with and without disabilities” (Wilson and Michaels, 2007, p. 207). However, it is not so important what the researchers think in reference to whether the co-teaching aspect is beneficial; it’s time to ask the students. That is exactly what this study does.
The purpose of the article is to conclude the perceptions of the children in these co-taught environments. According to Wilson and Michaels (2007), “the current study attempts to gather both quantitative and qualitative empirical data on secondary general and special education students’ perceptions of co-teaching” (p. 208). It was important for the authors to be able to distinguish what the students thought the consequences and benefits of co-teaching were to them “as it pertained to their literacy development (e.g., reading and writing)” (Wilson and Michaels, 2007, p. 208). Therefore, they took it upon themselves to evaluate the students.
Wilson and Michaels (2007) state that the study was “conducted in a large suburban school district consisting of two middle schools (grades 7 and 8) and three high schools (grades 9 through 12)” (p. 209). There were a total of 346 students who participated in the study. These students were students of seventeen classrooms in which co-teaching was implemented in their English courses (Wilson and Michaels, 2007). “Of the 346 students, 127 were classified as special education students, primarily as students with learning disabilities, and 219 were general education students” (Wilson and Michaels, 2007, p. 209). The researchers used survey questions in the form of the Likert scale in order to get information from the students (Wilson and Michaels, 2007). The use of the yes/no questions and the Likert scale for the survey was easier for the students to comprehend and assisted them in better completing the questions. Wilson and Michaels (2007) state the following in reference to the research performance design: “the survey was distributed to all students during the co-taught English classes by one of their co-teachers” and were asked to be completed during the last 2 weeks of classes (p. 210).
According to the research results, many of the students found that there were more advantages than disadvantages to the idea of co-teaching. Due to the collaboration of co-teaching, the results show that special education students felt they could go for help more frequently (during class and outside the classroom), “indicated a healthy level of self-awareness and self-determination,” and felt as if they were going to do better in this course (Wilson and Michaels, 2007, p. 220). Both the special education and general education students felt that they learned better and could achieve more in a co-taught classroom. Finally, according to Wilson and Michaels (2007), “students also acknowledged that they felt supported within classes to keep on-task and that their overall level of understanding of the subject matter was enhanced by the diverse instructional styles and perspectives of two teachers” (p. 219).
In summary, this study shows that both general education and special education students can and do benefit from co-taught classrooms, enjoy these types of classrooms, learn more from these classrooms, have a deeper understanding of themselves and their individual needs in the classroom, and feel supported in these classrooms.
Wilson, G. L., & Michaels, C. A. (2007). General and special education students’ perceptions of co-teaching: Implications for secondary-level literacy instruction. Reading & Writing Quarterly, 22(3), 205-225.