Journal Article Review
Kathryn Ackerman
EDU 713
October 13, 2010

Reference of Journal Article:

Jang, S. & Yuan, C. (2006). Research on the effects of team teaching upon two secondary school teachers, Educational Research 44(2), 177-194.

Barth, R. S. (1990) Improving schools from within (San Francisco, CA, Jossey-Bass).

Sykes, G. (1996) Reform of and as professional development, Phi Delta Kappan, 77(7), 465 – 467.

In 2001, Taiwan developed a nine year integrated educational curriculum for grades 1-9. This meant individual education courses were transferred into interdisciplinary courses and individualistic teaching methods had been transformed into team teaching. Collaboration has been increasingly identified as a key aspect of professional growth. In education, “a community of peers is important not only in terms of support, but also as a crucial source of generating ideas and criticisms” (Skyes, 1996). The researchers of this article noted that teacher isolation within schools could be the “most powerful impediment to implementing reform, and little change will indeed occur in schools unless teachers constantly observe, help and interact with one another” (Barth, 1990). The authors quoted many ideas of collaboration examples and chose to focus on the five different types of collaboration, and especially team teaching, to focus on for the research. According to Friend and Cook, (1996) there are five forms of co- teaching, one teach/one assist, station teaching, parallel teaching, alternative teaching and team teaching. After understanding the positive effects of collaboration, the purpose of this research was to study the effects of team teaching upon two 8th grade teachers in the field of mathematics, and better understand student performance results and teacher perceptions of team teaching.
The Project
The subjects of this experiment were 8th graders from a secondary school in Taoyuan County, Taiwan. Four classes were selected out of 27 to study using a quasi-experimental method. Two experimental groups were taught using team teaching, and the control group received the traditional teaching method. Before any of the research was conducted, the four classes received pre-tests and also subsequently, post tests at the end based on the 12 week experiment. Instead of following Cook and Friend’s model of co-teaching, in which teachers share a classroom and each teacher teaches part of a lesson and then the students rotate from station to station, the participants did it a bit differently. The teachers worked together to plan the syllabus, prepare and carry out teaching instruction and hold afterschool discussions since limited space was an issue. Their purpose was to discover if team teaching had any impact on students’ final exam scores.
The participants of the experiment were chosen from four 8th grade classrooms. The researchers also asked if the teachers involved were willing to communicate with another team partner. The students in the Taiwanese classroom were already placed in ability groups and the average score of each class was similar to one another based on the first midterm exam. The co- teachers took turns with a high achieving group, and a low achieving group for 3 week increments. Then they would switch back at the end of each class period. Assessments were made using tests, self reflections, video recordings, questionnaires and also interviews. The qualitative data results of these assessments were coded by categorized for data analysis.

The results of the experiment stated that the average final exam scores of the students receiving team teaching were higher than that of the traditional teaching. The results also showed a significant difference in pre and post test scores for both higher achieving and lower achieving students in team taught classes. According to the questionnaire, more than half of the experimental students surveyed considered team teaching conducive to their final exam score.

Discussion, Implications and Recommendations
The results of the experiment proved statistically that student performance increased while students were in a team teaching setting compared to a traditional setting. The students that were part of the team teaching also felt that they were given more opportunities to learn math problems and were more likely to stay motivated. The authors of the article also exposed however, the many difficulties that the team teachers were challenged with compared to the traditional teachers. The team teachers differed in classroom management styles and found it difficult to meet daily. These teachers found it difficult to make self-adjustments and alter their perspectives. They believed that with more support from the school administration and reduction of teaching hours that collaboration could have been more successful in their eyes.
My Thoughts
I believe that the strength of this research project is that it acknowledged the benefits of co-teaching and how useful it can be when teachers take the time to collaborate successfully with one another. The significant amount of background knowledge that was implemented from various sources made it clear that the researchers regard collaboration as a key aspect in the professional growth of teachers. I think it was important that they made the participants aware of this information and research as well, however the teachers did not necessarily implement the suggestions correctly.
I believe that the experiment provided many limitations that negatively affected the attitudes and perspectives of the teachers. First of all, the teachers in the experiment did not teach within the same classroom, rather they taught similar lessons and then communicated with one another afterwards. I believe in this setting, the teachers could not know exactly how one taught or explained the material, but rather only the pace at which one was moving. Also, the teachers used in the experiment had dissimilar teaching styles, behaviors, and classroom management procedures. The students seemed confused from classroom to classroom and felt that one teacher was nice and one was strict. Also, the administration did not support this research, and therefore the communication between the teachers had to take place on their own time. And of course, this study was completed in only 4 classrooms and therefore it would be beneficial to conduct this study in more locations.
This research is useful to my learning because it described the typical disadvantages that all teachers share, apparently even in Taiwan! Collaboration is a simple term that can be defined in an educational text, however its implementation is difficult, time consuming and requires a teacher willing to be flexible and open to ideas. Although the benefits of team teaching are overwhelmingly successful, I think that teachers need to prepare themselves for the changes they can incur in team teaching. I always thought, that I could teach with my best friend back home in Rochester, NY and we would create a great co- teaching classroom. The reason I would pick her however, is because I trust her, understand her and we have the same personality. Until a teacher can find a person that is a good match, or until they can find a person that is willing to change with them I do not think collaboration will occur successfully and with parity.
Due to the successes of collaboration, I wonder if collaboration strategies in co-teaching will supersede how to teach individual teachers in college classrooms. Should we be training future teachers to collaborate together in student teaching experiences before allowing graduates to hold their own classrooms? I hope that upcoming teachers have more opportunities to practice collaboration skills before entering the demanding field of teaching in which I felt I had little experience with!
Connections to Classroom Texts
According to Friend and Cook (2010), the definition of co-teaching notes that co-teachers operate in a single physical space or classroom. Earlier variations of the model did as this research group did, planning together, communicating yet teaching in different rooms. According to Friend and Cook (2010), “Co-teaching should generally be considered an instructional approach that occurs in a single physical environment,” and when this occurs instruction can be designed and delivered using interventions that will best meet the needs of diverse learners within one room.