School of Education


Doctor of Education in Curriculum & Instruction (EdD)


Justin Necessary


Cross-level Classrooms, Secondary Education, Collaboration, Rural Setting, Educators’ Experiences, Educators’ Challenges




The purpose of this case study was to understand the benefits and barriers of cross-level classrooms from the perspective of educators at a rural secondary school. For this study, cross-level learning is defined as a classroom that includes multiple grade bands who are working together in a classroom setting to learn a specific set of standards or objectives (Peñafiela & Tomàs, 2014; Scamati, Kent, & Mackenzie, 1993). This research study operated within the collaboration theory identified by Lev Vygotsky that highlights the value of collaborating with others to gain a greater understanding of a particular task or process that the learner could gain independently through socialization and partnership allowing for the formation of deeper comprehension of instructional content (Cicconi 2014; Vygotsky1978). This case study was set in a rural community in the Southern United States and examined 15 teachers’ perspectives of cross-level classrooms through the data collection tools of teacher interviews, classroom observations, and the examination of lesson plans and instructional materials and resources. Qualitative data analysis methods were used to comprehend, synthesize, theorize, and recontextualize the data to create new understandings of how educators’ respond to cross-level classrooms and their perceptions of teaching in a multi-age setting (Houghton, Murphy, Shaw, & Casey, 2015; Morse, 1994). Through this case study, educators’ perspectives of cross-level classrooms were examined in greater detail through interviews, observations, and lesson plans to determine their views of this type of nontraditional classrooms and the skills teachers felt were necessary to teach in this type of learning environment. The results of this study indicated that educators experience both benefits and barriers when teaching in a cross-level classroom.

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