Date of Award:

5-2011

Document Type:

Dissertation

Degree Name:

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department:

School of Teacher Education and Leadership

Advisor/Chair:

Scott Hunsaker

Abstract

Creating a community of learners with and among students in a collaborative
classroom environment provides the keystone for developing the skills necessary for
success in the 21st century. Some preservice teachers envision that community building can enhance the learning experience for them and their students and want to learn and employ the necessary strategies. This study examined whether such a desirous group of novice teachers could identify the key factors they believed comprise community building and could successfully establish a community of learners during their first full year of teaching, supported by participation in a collaborative inquiry group.

Four novice teachers met monthly throughout their first year for two-hour
sessions during which they discussed and examined various aspects involved in
establishing their classroom communities. They created and shared artifacts designed to promote a caring, respectful relationship between them and their students as well as among the students themselves. These novice teachers discussed the challenges inherent in helping students with differing sociocultural, language, and behavioral needs bond with one another. They also supported each other in dealing with the myriad of necessities and constraints involved in implementing a start-up classroom. During the final session, group members synthesized what they believed constituted the essence of community building. They also elaborated regarding the areas of success they had achieved during their initial year of teaching. Finally, the members identified that participation in a collaborative inquiry group had supported their first-year experience. The group judged their overall experience as productive and successful.

The researcher’s perspective was somewhat different from the other group
members. Difficulties identified in the process were using collaborative inquiry as the
method to gather data for a dissertation while endeavoring to act as an equal group
member, requiring in-depth analysis of novice teachers who had not previously
participated in action research and were still in the early stages of developing their
practice as well as the tendency of novice teachers who had experienced the same
preservice program to employ groupthink rather than to challenge one another’s
statements. Further research should study collaborative inquiry as a method employed throughout preservice programs.

Comments

This work made publicly available electronically on April 6, 2011.

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