Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2017

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

First Advisor

Susan W. Hopewell

Second Advisor

Lucinda Soltero-González

Third Advisor

Bridget Dalton

Fourth Advisor

Joanne Belknap

Fifth Advisor

Mileidis Gort

Abstract

This multiple-case study examined three teachers’ formal and peripheral engagement across multiple years of a three-year, professional development project. Collaborative support focused on applying the standards for effective pedagogy to the redesign and implementation of elementary instruction, in an effort to increase equity and inclusion for all diverse learners within general education classrooms. The complex contexts of teaching within psychosocial school systems influenced teachers’ active and limited engagement in a variety of collaborative support activities. Negative intersubjective perceptions generally influenced limited engagement. Long-term participants sought active engagement in collaborations perceived to support continually improved instruction, while responding to their challenging contexts, and relevant to their instructional obligations and classroom needs. Examination of longitudinal data revealed a substantive process of cyclical collaborative support through which teachers engaged collaboration to process and prioritize relevant challenges, explored ideas to apply effective pedagogy in the redesign and implementation of instruction, observed improved classroom outcomes, and sought further opportunities for continual improvement. Ongoing engagement in this cyclical process of collaborative support helped teachers mediate the influence of complex challenges across the teaching profession. Conditions that sustained long-term engagement included an iterative process of redesign for collaborative activities, which enabled support to be most responsive to teachers’ available time, and most relevant to teachers’ observed classroom needs and instructional obligations. In addition to proximal propinquity, psychosocial propinquity with the standards for effective pedagogy and trusted collaborators, along with engaging activities perceived to provide positive, collegial support, had significant influence on participants’ active, ongoing engagement. Administrator involvement during the third and final year of the project influenced significant changes in the design and delivery of collaborative support, including mandated and structured expectations for participation. This led to intersubjective perceptions of increased challenges, negative collegial interactions and an interruption of support provided across the first two years of the project when there had been no administrator involvement. Implications suggest future professional development should take the complex psychosocial contexts that influence teachers into account and respond flexibly to teachers’ capacity to engage while focused on relevant obligations and classroom needs.

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