Improved student achievement has arguably always been a goal of schools and school districts. Within the past thirty years as the focus on increased student achievement has intensified, various calls for school reforms have resulted. These reform initiatives have taken on many appearances including government mandates as well as self-imposed changes. One of the most recent examples of reform that schools and school districts have embarked upon to bring about change has been the development of learning communities.
Learning communities, often times referred to as Professional Learning Communities (PLC's), have evolved quite significantly over the past ten to fifteen years, often being implemented in a variety of different ways across all levels of education. An approach that has been often implemented at the high school level is the development of course-specific teams of teachers working together collaboratively on a variety of tasks associated with teaching. As approaches to the creation of learning communities have varied across settings, there is much to be learned by studying the application of these different approaches to the creation of a learning community and specifically teacher collaborative work that is focused at the course level.
This research examined course-specific teams of teachers brought together for the purpose of working collaboratively to develop curriculum, instructional strategies, and assessments. Through the process of observing five course specific collaborative teams during two of their team meetings, follow up individual interviews with each member of the team, and an analysis of documents created by the team, this research illustrates the work of these teams. Three major findings inform the field of education related to the practice of learning communities and specifically teacher collaboration in a high school setting. First, collaboration that involves teachers with interdependent teaching roles, i.e. common courses, can result in improved professional practice. Second, having the opportunity to work collaboratively with teaching colleagues resulted in decreased feelings of isolation. Third, teacher collaboration resulted in improved relational trust among members of the collaborative teams.
University of Minnesota Ed.D. dissertation. March 2011. Major: Educational Policy and Administration. Advisor: Dr. Jennifer York-Barr. 1 computer file (PDF); xi, 141 pages, appendices A-G.
Edwards, Daniel Lee.
Course specific collaborative teams in high school: an analysis of collaborative work, relationships and products..
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