Date of Award

12-2008

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Major

Educational Psychology and Research

Major Professor

John M. Peters

Committee Members

John Haas, Trena Paulus, Mary Ziegler

Abstract

This study examined the experience of Appreciative Inquiry practitioners participating in collaborative learning. Participants engaged in a process of action and reflection called levelising, designed to surface assumptions and hidden frames of reference (Peters, 1999). Although the focus of their eight-month dialogue was on understanding post-modern organizational design and strength-based organization practices, the researcher was interested in the impact of levelising on the participants' practices, including the researcher's own.

Data sources consisted of phenomenological interviews with eight participants, email posts, and field notes. Analysis data revealed six themes, four of which addressed group dynamics and forums for engagement. Two addressed the experience of participants' levelising conversations. Findings indicated that the elements of collaborative learning—dialogical space, multiple ways of knowing, cycles of action and reflection, and a focus on knowledge construction—played a role in meaning making.

The results suggest that levelising may offer a practical means for double-loop learning, helping those who engage in this practice align theories in action with espoused theories. This research has implications for educators, consultants, and business leaders interested in implementing a progressive and ordered practice to become strength-based organizations.

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