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The principal network: a model of peer collaboration around critical case studies of practice

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This action research study explored what would happen if a principal network was created to provide time for collaboration about critical case studies of practice. The participants in this study were novice and experienced principals in an elementary school

This action research study explored what would happen if a principal network was created to provide time for collaboration about critical case studies of practice. The participants in this study were novice and experienced principals in an elementary school district in Arizona. Based on the underpinnings of the Wallace Foundation principal support programs, the study was designed to combat the limited professional development offerings for in-service principals. Modeling the use of cases from the legal and medical professions, this study utilized case studies as the base for peer collaboration to extend the principals' critical thinking skills of relevance, breadth, and depth.

The study design aligned with adult learning theory and focused on authentic problem solving. Participants read case studies, completed individual case analysis, collaborated, and wrote reflections. The cases were intentionally selected to match current problems of practice for the participants. This mixed methods study followed a sequential analysis process beginning with qualitative analysis using a grounded theory approach and moving to quantitative analysis.

The results of this study indicated that the participants' ability to think critically about the problem (relevance) and its complexity (breadth and depth) increased over time. The data also showed that the principals gained an increased awareness and appreciation for multiple perspectives. Lastly, the participants valued the time to collaborate together, gain insight from one another and reduce feelings of isolation in their role as administrators. Future research should continue to explore the use of critical case studies of practice as a in participatory action research with in-service principals.

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Date Created
2015

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Innovating Together: Employing a Faculty Learning Community to Support Blended Learning

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As higher education embraces innovative educational models, support for the faculty members who must carry them out remains a vital ingredient for success. Despite this need, many institutions adopt innovations such as blended learning for all of the benefits afforded,

As higher education embraces innovative educational models, support for the faculty members who must carry them out remains a vital ingredient for success. Despite this need, many institutions adopt innovations such as blended learning for all of the benefits afforded, with minimal consideration to meaningfully equip professors teaching these courses. “Faculty Learning Communities” (FLC’s) provide a powerful model of supporting and equipping faculty in their teaching practice. Nevertheless, ongoing and collaborative faculty development was historically unavailable to professors teaching undergraduate blended courses at Lancaster Bible College. Thus, the purpose of this qualitative action research study was to examine the ways that faculty perceived an FLC during the design and facilitation of a blended course. The Community of Inquiry (CoI) framework guided the design and facilitation of the FLC in fall 2018, as well as providing insight into measuring how learning communities formed during the FLC and while participants taught their courses. This FLC model blended learning for participants by occurring four times on campus, with online sessions following each in-person meeting. The faculty developer provided resources and support as faculty collaborated in designing their blended courses for the spring 2019 semester. Faculty perceptions of support were gathered in a focus group at the end of fall semester. During the spring 2019 semester, the faculty developer observed both on-campus and online sessions of the blended courses and led a second focus group about faculty perceptions of effectiveness and support. Qualitative data sets included video recordings of the FLC, focus groups, and class observations, field notes, and screenshots of online environments during the FLC and courses. Findings demonstrated substantial evidence of CoI measures of social presence, cognitive presence, and teaching presence were present in both the FLC and participants’ courses. These results affirmed the CoI framework provided a meaningful platform for faculty development. Additionally, participants perceived the FLC as supportive for their blended teaching practices, making direct mentions of support and indicating belief that broader institutional change be implemented toward this end to enhance faculty development opportunities. Limitations and implications of the study, as well as desired future research were explored.

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Date Created
2019

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Action research communities of practice: building novice teacher self-efficacy

Description

Student teachers in their final year of college preparation enter a profession that is facing a severe shortage and an alarming rate of attrition. Novice teachers, those with five or fewer years of experience, are faced with myriad challenges that

Student teachers in their final year of college preparation enter a profession that is facing a severe shortage and an alarming rate of attrition. Novice teachers, those with five or fewer years of experience, are faced with myriad challenges that makes retention a problem for the colleges preparing them, the school districts that hire them, and the students that need them in their classrooms.

This mixed methods action research study investigated an innovation designed to build student teacher self-efficacy. The expectation was it would increase the likelihood that new graduates would stay in the profession. The innovation taught student teachers to conduct action research within communities of practice. The Concerns-Based Adoption Model was used to monitor their progress.

It involved two phases. The first phase measured student teacher self-efficacy prior to and following the innovation, and the second phase measured self-efficacy of former graduates, novice teachers, who had graduated from the preparation same program. Both populations were interviewed to elaborate on the self-efficacy data.

Results suggested that student teachers who conducted action research within communities of practice showed a significant increase in self-efficacy. Specifically, the structure of action research guiding their collaborative efforts at problem-solving played a substantial role in increasing their confidence to face their future classroom challenges. The study also found that novice teachers who had performed the same action research within communities of practice retained a higher level of self-efficacy in their first five years of practice.

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Date Created
2019