Opening the Doors: A Collaborative and Digital Exploration of Inclusive Secondary Classrooms

Date of Award

May 2018

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Teaching and Leadership


Julie N. Causton


inclusive education, participatory research, secondary school, visual/digital methods

Subject Categories



Decades of research have evidenced that inclusive education leads to improved academic, social, emotional and post-secondary outcomes for students with disabilities and their non-disabled peers. But today, the majority of students with more complex needs (i.e. students with labels of intellectual disability, autism, multiple disabilities, and emotional disabilities) continue to experience educational segregation and, consequently, poor educational outcomes. This research to practice chasm is exasperated at the secondary school level, where educators have even more difficulty understanding how to implement inclusion.

In this study, I use participatory and digital methods alongside secondary educators to (a) examine their teaching practices, special education services, and philosophies and to (b) co-create a private online toolkit for their district that shares our findings via multimedia representation (i.e. video of teaching, video of teacher reflection on practice, student work, resources, etc.). I consider how this co-creation of knowledge with practitioners can increase the potential for turning research into practice to support secondary inclusion. I also consider how the use of digital research and dissemination methods can help to open the doors for interested stakeholders to digitally explore the complexities related to the day to day practices, challenges, successes, and attitudes of inclusive educators.


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