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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Teachers' collegial consultation : a case study of dyadic interaction Varah, Carolyn Julie


This study was an exploratory case study which examined the process of collegial consultation in relation to teacher development in two dyads of elementary teachers. The purpose of the study was to understand the manner in which participants collaborate and mutually negotiate understandings in a conference following data-based classroom observation. The research questions addressed were: 1.0 How do the partners negotiate shared understandings in the consultation process? 2.0 How does context influence the consultation process? The primary data sources were fieldnotes from classroom observations, videotaped post-observation conferences, and audiotaped stimulated recall interviews. These data were collected from four rounds of observations for each dyad. Symbolic interactionism (Blumer, 1969,1972) was used as a framework for analyzing how the participants made collective and individual sense of their professional practice during the post-observation conference and conference review process, respectively. The data analysis was based primarily on the conference review audiotapes from each dyad member and the post-observation conference videotapes. After a comparative analysis of the two dyads, the following findings appeared to influence the negotiation of shared understandings in the consultation process and, therefore, teacher growth. First, a prior work relationship appeared to facilitate adaptation to the practice of collegial consultation. In contrast, prior interaction patterns appeared to inhibit adaptation to the practice of collegial consultation. Second, past experiences and training influenced how the participants interpreted and defined the collegial consultation process. Congruent definitions of the collegial relationship and the consultation process appeared to facilitate mutual negotiation of understanding, whereas incongruent definitions inhibited such negotiation. Third, the manner in which the participants defined the consultation process influenced their interpretation of the observer and observee roles. A shared language of congruent definitions and interpretations of role appeared to facilitate negotiation of shared understandings of practice. Lack of an explicit shared language inhibited negotiation. Fourth, a supportive consultation climate appeared to also facilitate negotiation. Finally, teacher growth in understanding of teaching and consultation practice appeared to be developmental and influenced by the previous four findings. Five conclusions were derived from a comparative analysis of the findings from each of the two dyads. Five contextual factors appeared to influence the collegial consultation process. They were as follows: (1) district and school endorsement and support were both needed to facilitate the implementation of collegial consultation; (2) reciprocal interaction patterns were more likely to result in changes in teaching practice; (3) definitional congruence of the collegial relationship and consultation process facilitated clear communication and negotiation of shared understandings; (4) provision of a knowledge base and a support network enhanced understanding of teaching and consultation practice; and (5) the need for structured-in time was critical if participants were to be expected to practise collegial consultation. The main implications for theory were that collegial consultation was a viable vehicle for teachers to develop professionally with appropriate modelling, endorsement, and support from district and school administrators. Reciprocal interaction patterns appeared to foster growth and change in practice. The most important implications for practice were the identification of the need for structured time to engage in the collegial consultation process and the need for the provision of a knowledge base and on-site support network.

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