Date of Award





Doctor of Education

Degree Type



Counseling, Foundations & Leadership

First Advisor

Tom Hackett

Second Advisor

Robert Waller

Third Advisor

Christopher Garretson


Classroom organizational structure and the impact on student achievement has been a major concern for decades for elementary teachers and administrators (McGrath & Rust, 2002). At the elementary level, the expectation is teachers are experts in all curriculum areas, and for elementary teachers these areas are English, language arts, writing, science, social studies, and math. Most elementary teachers believe they are generalists and are unable to be experts in every subject area. This concern has significantly influenced school administrators’ decisions about best practices and classroom organization to maximize student learning. One way administrators are addressing this problem is by departmentalizing and not having every teacher teach every subject (Carolan, 2013). The purpose of this study is to explore teachers’ perceptions on departmentalization and self-contained classrooms at the elementary school level. This study addresses three focus areas: teacher perceptions on departmentalized and self-contained classrooms, advantages and disadvantages of self-contained and departmentalized classrooms, and student achievement. The current study will use a qualitative approach to answer the research questions. Analysis of teacher perceptions in the forms of teacher and administrator questionnaires, focus groups, and interviews will help create a more comprehensive representation of departmentalization and its impact on student achievement as well as the advantages and disadvantages of departmentalization. Data collection and analysis will help to make instructional decisions for classroom organization.