The development, implementation, and sustainability of professional collaboration for special education: A sociocultural perspective
AuthorSantamaria, Lorri M. Johnson
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractThe purpose of this inquiry was to investigate the development, implementation, and sustainability of collaborative educational practices among special educators, general educators, and members of a university community. Defining characteristics of collaboration in schools, sustained practices, and a rubric developed from features of Vygotsky's (1978) zone of proximal development (ZPD), create an integrated framework that informs the study. The ultimate outcome goals of the study were to determine: (a) how collaboration functioned during the time of initial intensive support, (b) how collaboration was sustained after initial intensive supports were removed and (c) ways in which the ZPD informed and sustained collaboration throughout the study. A two-phase case study design was utilized for this study. In Phase I educators participated in a four-month long collaboration project with the goal of integrating students from a Kindergarten--1st grade bilingual cross-categorical special education classroom into a bilingual 1st grade classroom. During this period, the teachers, specialists, paraprofessionals, administrators, and university collaborators provided collaboration and support to one another. Phase II consisted of a three year follow-up period investigating the classroom, in which intensive formal support from the original collaborators was no longer directly provided Research methodology utilized for this study was qualitative. Data sources used to obtain information for the analyses included: Phase I, focus group interviews, teacher journal entries, observations, and teacher lesson plans; Phase II: follow-up interviews, classroom observations, and supporting documents. Analysis of the data revealed that during the implementation phase novice teachers were provided with a support network, there were cross-training opportunities for all participants, focus group interviews fostered participant collaboration, teacher resources were reallocated, and power differentials among participants were redistributed. Findings for the second phase of the study indicate that although collaboration was sustained after the initial four-month intervention for more than three years, it varied from the onset of the original intervention. Formal and informal partnerships among the participants sustained collaboration, especially those linking the university to the classroom. Based upon the ZPD rubric developed, there are implications for integrating sociocultural theory into future research studies that involve special and general educators and learners in culturally and linguistically diverse learning environments.
Degree ProgramGraduate College
Special Education, Rehabilitation and School Psychology