Date of Award

8-2015

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Major

Educational Psychology and Research

Major Professor

John M. Peters

Committee Members

David Schumann, Mary Ziegler, John Lounsbury

Abstract

In 2011, Tennessee passed the Professional Educators Collaborative Conferencing Act (PECCA), replacing the former mode of collective bargaining between professional educators and school board administrators with a process called collaborative conferencing (CC). The purpose of this study, the first research on the new process, was to investigate the experiences of participants who engaged in CC in one school district. The study also examined participants’ perceived relationship between training and its application to CC. The school district used the newly developed Interest-Based Collaborative Problem Solving and Reflective Practice (IBCPS/RP) model to guide its CC process. This approach is similar to interest based bargaining (IBB), with one key difference being its use of reflective practice as means to communicate. Analysis of responses to phenomenological interviews with twelve participants revealed four themes that characterized their experience with CC: power imbalance, climate, process, and schedule. These themes related to the formal hierarchy among members, outside power influences, and trust issues. When asked to describe how they experienced their overall training and practice in CC, six themes emerged from participants’ responses; relationships, training quality, disconnects between training and application, influence of members not trained in the process, decisions made in the crush of time, and advantages and disadvantages of group size. When all the themes were viewed as a set of experiences, the analysis revealed an overarching theme of time. Across the themes of power imbalance, climate and process, participants often referred to the time it took to go from initial feelings of frustration to a more positive experience. It took time for participants to develop trust, build relationships, and learn and utilize the RP process. Time was also a factor in relation to the themes of schedule and the eleventh hour. These results, along with the related literature in the areas of both IBB and reflective practice, provide insight into the successes and challenges of CC using the IBCPS/RP model.

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