Graduation Year

2011

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree

Ph.D.

Degree Granting Department

Curriculum and Instruction

Major Professor

Howard Johnson

Co-Major Professor

James Duplass

Keywords

attribution theory, learning communities, long-term student-teacher relationships, multiyear learning, reflective practice

Abstract

This study reports a reflection upon the experience of a multiyear elementary school learning community designed for improved teaching and learning. The exploration uses interview data to describe the perceptions and reflections of the principal and teachers directly engaged in this project of educational reform. The goal of this process is to gain a deeper understanding of the experience and to determine to what factors the participants attribute the outcomes of this project.

Through an auto-ethnographic reflective critical practice inquiry and extended interviews, this study describes the context and environment of this learning community and how the participants reflect on their experiences in that community. It also provided an opportunity for participants to review and explain their perceptions and attributions regarding both the measured and the unintended outcomes associated with this learning community project.

Results from teacher and administrator reflections indicate that the strength of a multiyear learning community is the positive relationships that they foster and the institutional consistency for both parents and students. Evidence from the interviews indicates that teachers' expectations for outcomes of multiyear learning communities may differ from those of administrators, and be less concerned with improved achievement measures than other, relationship-focused outcomes.

A key implication of this study is that, although the principal players involved in the creation and implementation of this learning community use terms that describe or refer to the overall experience as very successful, test scores did not respond significantly to this innovation. This suggests that comprehensive plans need to be developed in advance to assure appropriate and accurate methods of measuring success in innovations such as this.

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