Date of Award

1-1-2010

Document Type

Campus Access Dissertation

Department

Instruction and Teacher Education

Sub-Department

Elementary Education

First Advisor

Amy Donnelly

Abstract

In education, the need to improve student achievement has been a focus of concern for several decades. Research has identified the teacher as being a powerful influence in the classroom and directly instrumental in how well students learn. The establishment of a link between teacher learning and student achievement indicates the importance of investigating the professional development of teachers. Helping teachers learn can help improve student achievement. The purpose of this study is to explore the professional development of teachers within a University partnership. More specifically the research questions are:

* What conditions exist in a University public school partnership to engage in-service teachers in professional development?

* In what ways is the professional development of teachers supported through a University elementary public school partnership?

This qualitative study investigates schools with different partnerships with the University. Grand tours, focus groups (with administrators, teachers and interns), observations and summary interviews are conducted at the schools. Data collection and analysis uncovers six conditions and several factors that influence teacher learning to include school and district mandates, administrators, interns and the literacy program. Supports within the partnership that engage teachers in professional development include giving teachers the freedom to make choices and try new methods, the help of the liaisons from the University and the literacy coaches. Consequently, the conditions that promote professional development begin with a foundation of democracy where risk taking is encouraged, learning is shared and freedom is promoted. In the midst of this atmosphere is a collaboration of people who have shared goals, beliefs and commitments. These people are supportive, engaging and nurturing.

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