Understanding teacher collaboration in disadvantaged urban primary schools: uncovering practices that foster professional learning communities
University College Cork
This study is set in the context of disadvantaged urban primary schools in Ireland. It inquires into the collaborative practices of primary teachers exploring how class teachers and support teachers develop ways of working together in an effort to improve the literacy and numeracy levels of their student. Traditionally teachers have worked in isolation and therefore ‘collaboration’ as a practice has been slow to permeate the historically embedded assumption of how a teacher should work. This study aims to answer the following questions. 1). What are the dynamics of teacher collaboration in disadvantaged urban primary schools? 2). In what ways are teacher collaboration and teacher learning related? 3). In what ways does teacher collaboration influence students’ opportunities for learning? In answering these research questions, this study aims to contribute to the body of knowledge pertaining to teacher learning through collaboration. Though current policy and literature advocate and make a case for the development of collaborative teaching practices, key studies have identified gaps in the research literature in relation to the impact of teacher collaboration in schools. This study seeks to address some of those gaps by establishing how schools develop a collaborative environment and how teaching practices are enacted in such a setting. It seeks to determine what skills, relationships, structures and conditions are most important in developing collaborative environments that foster the development of professional learning communities (PLCs). This study uses a mixed method research design involving a postal survey, four snap-shot case studies and one in depth case study in an effort to establish if collaborative practice is a feasible practice resulting in worthwhile benefits for both teachers and students.
Primary schools , Primary teaching , Disadvantaged , Urban , Literacy , Numeracy , Support teaching , Teacher collaboration , Professional learning community (PLC) , Case study , Ireland
McCarthy, J. 2011. Understanding teacher collaboration in disadvantaged urban primary schools: uncovering practices that foster professional learning communities. PhD Thesis, University College Cork.