Date of Award

5-2016

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Major

Education

Major Professor

Pamela A. Angelle

Committee Members

John M. Peters, Mary L. Derrington, Norma T. Mertz

Abstract

The purpose of this mixed method, multisite case study was to explore how teachers’ attitudes toward their work were influenced by their experiences within collaborative work groups. The critical elements and structural conditions of effective collaborative work groups described by Little in 1981 was used as a conceptual framework. The sample consisted of three principals, one school counselor, and twenty-seven teachers across three high schools in the same southeastern state. Participants were interviewed and their collaborative work groups observed during which time artifacts were also collected.

Findings indicated teachers’ attitudes toward their work were influenced by eight variables: the support they received from their administrative team, their perception of the administration’s consistency and values, their relationship with their principal, the behaviors of their coworkers, their experiences with teacher collaboration, the internal feelings they had about teaching, and the external forces that affected their careers. While these eight variables were relatively consistent across the three schools, the extent to which principals supported the structural conditions of effective collaborative work groups varied. There was also variance in the schools’ adherence to the critical elements and structural conditions of effective collaborative work groups which seemed to coincide with teachers’ overall attitudes toward their work. Teachers working at the school with greatest adherence exhibited the most positive attitudes, and teachers working at the school with least adherence exhibited the least positive attitudes.

More so than collaborative experiences alone, teachers’ attitudes toward their work were primarily influenced by the relationships they held with their peers, students, and administrators. The findings of this study indicate that strong, positive relationships among teachers and between faculty and administrators create a mutual trust and respect that is not only necessary for collaboration to be effective but also provides a foundation from which teachers can grow professionally. Furthermore, when teachers use those professional interactions to influence organizational change, their pride, sense of empowerment, and loyalty to their school, students, and leaders is solidified.

Files over 3MB may be slow to open. For best results, right-click and select "save as..."

Share

COinS