School of Education


Doctor of Philosophy in Education (PhD)


Ellen Ziegler


special education, co-teaching, phenomenology, collaboration




The purpose of this phenomenological study was to describe co-teachers’ experiences regarding shared instructional responsibility in North Georgia secondary schools. Shared responsibility is generally defined as both teachers perceiving each other as co-equals in instructional responsibility and that neither teacher perceives the other as the subordinate or primary teacher in the co-taught classroom. The frameworks that guided this study is sociocultural theoretical framework, as developed by Vygotsky extended in recent co-teaching literature and Howlett and Nguyen, and teacher belief theory, developed by Parajes and adapted for co-teaching research by Kim and Pratt, which is supported by Bandura’s social cognitive theory. This study investigated how sharing content teaching responsibilities influence a co-teaching teams' professional relationship experience. The design of this qualitative study was hermeneutical phenomenology. Twelve to fifteen participants are necessary to ensure saturation. All participants were selected based on a set of criteria. Only secondary special education, or general education teachers that have or currently share instructional responsibilities in the co-taught classroom were included in the participant group. The participants varied in age, sex, ethnicity, grade level, and subjects taught. The setting for this study is Major City Metro School District, which is in Northwest, Georgia. Three different data collection methods were used to achieve triangulation; interviews, letters to participants amalgamated co-teacher and open-ended questionnaires. Creely's four-stage method of interpretation was used to analyze the collected data.

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