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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Collaboration between teachers and university educators in a professional development context: shared situated cases Minnes-Brandes, Gabriella


Using ethnographic research methods this case study examined how a group of teachers and university educators analyzed teaching for the purpose of enhancing students’ involvement in their learning. Data were collected from weekly meetings and interviews over a period of two school years. Three research questions guided the study: 1) How does a collaborative group of teachers and university educators, who meet regularly in order to improve teaching practices aimed at increasing students’ active learning, evolve over a period of two school years? 2) What is the nature of the conversational dynamics of this collaborative group? and 3) In what ways can the nature of the discourse in this collaborative group be described and represented? In this study, the group deliberations are described in terms of reflective conversations (Schön 1983; 1987; 1991). While Schön has used this term metaphorically to refer to an individual’s “conversation” with a problem setting, this study extends this term to refer to the dialogue occurring among a group of professional colleagues. Shulman (1992) argues that written well-crafted cases serve as an important springboard for a critical analysis of discussions of educational practice. In this study, the participants’ stories were represented in terms of shared situated cases. The purposes of these cases were: to provide the language and context for educators to discuss teaching; and to serve as a method to accumulate the shared repertoire of these colleagues. The group deliberations became the common ground in the context of a supportive group for discussions of private theories about teaching. Thus, this community of professionals developed a shared language and an accumulated repertoire of teaching strategies. This study provides insights about teachers’ professional development, and the role within it of collaboration between university and school educators. Building on the study, researchers might explore the implications of collaborative groups on school culture, and the possibilities of using such groups to help beginning teachers in their professional growth.

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