Graduation Date


Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science

Department or Program


Department or Program Chair

Elizabeth Truesdell PhD

First Reader

Madalienne F. Peters, EdD

Second Reader

Elizabeth Truesdell, PhD


Combination classes are often created out of financial necessity rather than a desire to engage students in multiage learning. Teachers assigned to these classrooms come from the general teaching pool and may not have specialized training around the intricacies of multiage teaching.

A review of the literature indicates that the United States has a long history of multiage classrooms. When the practice of graded schools took over, however the multiage school remained as an approach to teaching children (Anderson, 1992). Progressive education programs often use a multiage classroom paired with looping, students remaining with the same teacher for more than one school year, as a way to deepen the relationship between teacher and student, and give the teacher insight into their students' learning needs (Baran, 2010). There is strong evidence that multiage programming is beneficial to students of all grades, from early childhood (Aina, 2001) to the crucial middle school years when many students begin to falter both socially and academically (Baran, 2010).

This is a phenomonilogical study examining teacher experience in combination and multiage classrooms through written records such as lesson plan books, weekly schedules and curriculum maps. Themes that emerged were a need for strategic scheduling, flexible curriculum, and strong student/teacher relationships.