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Doctoral Dissertation Announcement
Candidate: Jeanine Mattson-Gearhart
Doctor of Philosophy
Department: Special Education and Literacy Studies
Title: Graduate Cohort Approach in Teacher Education
Dr. Elizabeth Whitten, Chair
Dr. Sarah Summy
Dr. Alice Hoekstra
Date: Friday, March 2, 2012 10:00 a.m. to Noon
3203 Sangren Hall
The use of the cohorts in teacher education has steadily increased over the last decade. Research indicates both beneficial and negative aspects to this approach, with the field undecided. This study focuses on a Midwestern university’s accelerated graduate program for special educators. The program uses a mixed cohort approach to model collaboration, teaming, problem-solving, early intervention roles, and research-based strategies. The purpose of this study is to determine whether the cohort approach impacts students in their professional roles. This study analyzes data from pre- and post-surveys and focus groups to determine the benefits of the cohort approach. Survey data indicate positive feedback on the cohort approach. Survey and focus group data point to participants who have completed the program with an awareness of best practices. The growth of former students is evident through the data related to collaboration and teamwork. The cohort provides real time opportunities to collaborate with each other by promoting interdependence and thus makes the cohort successful. Also it is possible that a cohort experience has a greater impact on an individual’s learning experience.