Date of Award

Fall 11-25-2017

Document Type


Degree Name

PHD - Doctor of Philosophy

First Advisor

John Ciesluk

Second Advisor

Stephen Gould

Third Advisor

Robert MacMillan


With the recent mandates involving students with disabilities, there has been ongoing debate regarding the effectiveness of inclusive programs in today’s public schools. Recent research has demonstrated that teacher collaboration is an essential component to the success of inclusive education programs (Hernandez, 2013). There is an abundance of research done on the topic of teacher collaboration, but little has examined the effectiveness of general and special education teachers working together. The purpose of this qualitative, phenomenological study was to examine the degree to which general and special educators value collaboration with one another, the ways in which they collaborate, and the factors and conditions that promote and hinder collaboration in the classroom. Data were gathered from 90 Massachusetts public school teachers through online surveys and interviews. Data analysis generated seven key findings. Findings #1 showed that general and special education teachers value different types and degrees of collaboration with one another. Findings #2 discovered that the degree to which teachers value collaboration does not always correlate to the amount of time they spend collaborating. Findings #3 revealed that general and special education teachers do not have a clear definition of the term collaboration, and therefore struggle to collaborate effectively with their colleagues. Findings #4 and #5 delineated that general and special educators spend the majority of their collaboration time discussing student concerns and making instructional modifications, while they spend the least amount of their collaborative time together developing lesson plans and sharing resources. Findings #6 showed that both general and special education teachers recognize there are significant benefits to collaboration. Finally, Findings #7 identified that the majority of teachers are struggling to overcome the barriers of collaboration. Overall, these findings recognize that collaboration between general and special education is essential; yet, teachers are in need of more support to begin collaborating more effectively. Specific recommendations are delineated for teachers, school administrators, and higher education institutions. Future research recommendations suggest further study on teacher understanding of collaboration, training on how to collaborate with colleagues, and differences in collaboration across elementary and secondary school cultures.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.



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