Team Teaching in the Online Graduate Environment: Collaborative Instruction

Team Teaching in the Online Graduate Environment: Collaborative Instruction

Richard G. Fuller (Robert Morris University, USA) and Jean Bail (Philadelphia University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/jicte.2011100107
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Team teaching has long been thought to have positive benefits for learners and teachers in a variety of educational settings. Using an action research model the authors describe the outcomes of team teaching an online graduate level disaster research and statistics course. Separated geographically, two online instructors taught at a distance over the course of five semesters using an interactive team teaching model that allowed for greater interaction and instructor presence. Data was reviewed from instructor reflective logs and student responses to the team teaching model. Results of the study indicate that there was a positive benefit in developing synergy in content and pedagogies, continued instructor learning and continuous reflection on instructional design. Students also reported greater instructor presence and a greater understanding of the research and statistical process through immediacy of feedback and the added access and clarity that resulted from the team teaching process. The use of an interactive team teaching model provides greater clarity and interaction with students and should be considered as an online pedagogical opportunity.
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The terms cooperative teaching (Bauwens & Hourcade, 1995), team teaching and collaborative teaching (Welch & Sheridan, 1995), and co-teaching (Friend & Cook, 1996), are used frequently in the literature. Co-teaching is two or more people sharing responsibility for teaching some or all of the students assigned to a class. It involves the distribution of responsibility among people for planning, instruction, and evaluation of students (Cushman, 2004). Cook and Friend (1995, p. 2) describe co-teaching as “two or more professionals delivering substantive instruction to a diverse, or blended group of students in a single physical space.” Wenzlaff et al. (2002, p. 14) further state that co-teaching is “two or more individuals who come together in a collaborative relationship for the purpose of shared work for the outcome of achieving what none could have done alone.” Some may define this as a synergistic effect resulting from the collaboration of team teaching efforts. Team teaching can be described for the purpose of this action research as an equal partnership and expectation to contribute substantive material to maintain the integrity of an online course. This is not just a division of labor but a synergistic effect and expectation of mutual engagement to provide greater clarity and interaction with students.

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