Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


College of Education and Human Services


Teacher Education and Teacher Development

Thesis Sponsor/Dissertation Chair/Project Chair

Susan Baglieri

Committee Member

Michele Knobel

Committee Member

Jessica Bacon


Pedagogy that centers primarily on oral and written language significantly limits the educational progress of students with disabilities because it may not regularly afford them opportunities to express what they have learned. It stands to reason that increased opportunities for expression through multiple ways or modes of meaning-making will lead to greater expressivity for all students. This research study documents, examines, and helps support five general and special education teachers’ learning of pedagogical practices that foster increased opportunities for expression of learning with respect to students with disabilities in elementary and middle school (grades 3-7) classrooms. I use photovoice research methodology in which participants took photographs of and shared stories about their regular classroom practice with other participants. Photovoice allows participants to simultaneously grapple with the relationship between perceptions of disability and pedagogical decision-making while designing, implementing, and reflecting on more inclusive practices for students with disabilities. The findings from this study demonstrate that teachers understanding of and practices concerning increased expression for students with disabilities in inclusive classrooms is the result of a localized discourse (Newark, NJ) situated within broader national Discourses related to literacy and disability. The study’s design forefronts the potential of multimodal expression as evidenced by teachers’ own expressions of learning and their descriptions of opportunities offered to students for expression of learning through multiple arts media and modalities. This study adds to the field of inclusive pedagogy by documenting teachers’ ideas, action, and reflection about connections between literacy and disability paradigms and practice as it relates to teaching practice for students with disabilities in inclusive classrooms.

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