"Making Sense" in a Collaborative Teacher Education Prografll: Lessons from Project PART Students
AbstractWe studied the first cohort to graduate from a collaborative elementary/special education teacher education program at the University of Florida. The program was federally funded, and the curriculum was created by requiring elementary majors to take additional special education courses. However, because we exercised no control over course instructors, the content they taught and the perspectives they espoused were not necessarily consistent with ours. We were concerned that the program lacked thematic integrity and that students might flounder in the absence of a consistent message from instructors. To address these concerns, we observed students in field placements, interviewed them and their cooperating teachers, and reviewed documents. Our interpretation of these data suggests that PART students were little troubled by the diversity of instructor perspectives; to the contrary, because exposure to diverse points of view broadened their repertoires, they regarded it as a strength of the program. They also understood their responsibility to all children in their classrooms and had mastered a wide range of academic and behavioral interventions. These findings are discussed in light of recommendations for consistency within programs.