Individual and contextual factors influencing special education teacher learning in literacy learning cohorts

Mary T. Brownell, Alexandra A. Lauterbach, Mary P. Dingle, Alison G. Boardman, Jennifer E. Urbach, Melinda M. Leko, Amber E. Benedict, Yujeong Park

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


In this study, researchers operated from cognitive and situated perspectives to understand how individual qualities and contextual factors influenced elementary special education teachers' learning in a multifaceted professional development (PD) project, Literacy Learning Cohort, focused on word study and fluency instruction. Grounded theory methodology was used to analyze qualitative interviews, cohort meetings, and classroom observations. Participants included five special educators who taught reading to students with disabilities in Grades 3 to 5. Results highlighted the central role of teachers' ability to analyze their current instructional practice in developing integrated knowledge of word study and fluency instruction and crafting more integrated instruction. Teachers' individual qualities, contextual factors, and PD components also worked in concert with teachers' propensity to analyze instruction and ultimately influenced teacher learning (i.e., degree of integrated knowledge and practice demonstrated). Implications of these findings for designing effective PD efforts are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)31-44
Number of pages14
JournalLearning Disability Quarterly
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Fluency instruction
  • Instructional practice
  • Professional development
  • Teacher learning
  • Word study instruction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Health Professions(all)
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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