Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name



Urban Education


Terrie Epstein

Committee Members

David Connor

Michelle Fine

Subject Categories

Accessibility | Curriculum and Social Inquiry | Junior High, Intermediate, Middle School Education and Teaching | Other Education | Other Teacher Education and Professional Development | Secondary Education | Special Education Administration | Special Education and Teaching | Urban Education


Inclusive Education, Professional Development, Critical Participatory Action Research, Appreciative Inquiry


This dissertation explores the extent to which the beliefs and practices of teachers who work in a “struggling” school can be shifted towards inclusiveness through an action research based professional development program. The school was struggling in that it was charged with the education of children who are marginalized by a range of social forces while simultaneously accountable to institutional priorities. Broadly speaking, these institutional priorities preferred behaviorist punishment and technocratic approaches to meeting student needs, devaluing and decontextualizing students’ proficiencies as test scores and special education labels, in turn impeding inclusive change. Over the course of four months, an action research project invited four co-teaching pairs of general and special education certified teachers to inquire into their students’ positive experiences in school, as a way of reimagining inclusive education such that it was authentic to their context. Using case study methods, this dissertation is an evaluation of the outcomes of that project. Broadly speaking, teachers’ beliefs and practices significantly shifted towards inclusivity, though our attempts to promote school level inclusive changes were limited.