Date of Award

May 2013

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Urban Education

First Advisor

Judith A. Winn

Committee Members

Amy Otis Wilborn, Elizabeth Drame, Marleen Pugach, Craig Berg


Case Study, Content Knowledge, Contributions of a Special Educator, Co-Teaching, High Performing Co-Teaching Team, Pedagogical Content Knowledge


This was an exploratory case-study of a high performing co-teaching team at the high school level. The team consisted of a special educator and a general educator in their third year of co-teaching biology. The focus of the study was on the contributions of the special education teacher; these contributions were considered in relationship to his content and pedagogical content knowledge. The study contributes to the dialogue about the extent of content knowledge needed by the special educator and about the roles that special education teachers play in co-teaching in content areas. The study took place over four months. Data sources were interviews with the teachers both individually and together; observations followed by debriefing interviews; artifacts such as pacing guide, curriculum materials, school magazine, and field notes. Ball's model of pedagogical content knowledge (2008) was used to examine the special education teacher's pedagogical content knowledge. The characteristics of this high performing team, and the way their relationship evolved, confirmed many of factors that have been identified as contributing to successful co-teaching. The special education teacher contributed both in both planning and in teaching biology; in addition to a supportive role, he also took a lead role in teaching; this role grew as his content knowledge increased. Over the years, the special education teacher used several strategies for gaining content knowledge, strategies which were useful to him in supporting the students who were struggling. It was possible to get an overview of the special education teacher's pedagogical content knowledge using Ball's model; however, more was learned about his knowledge of content and pedagogy than of students.