Date of Award

5-2005

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Education

Major

Educational Psychology

Major Professor

John M. Peters

Committee Members

Howard Pollio, Janet Atwill, Mary Ziegler

Abstract

The researcher is an educator working in a juvenile correctional facility. In this study she invited 12 of her colleagues as co-researchers to explore their shared practice and to foster change in the workplace culture. Each participant engaged in a phenomenological interview designed to elicit perceptions of teaching in a correctional institution. The researcher then facilitated group sessions in a collaborative learning effort to construct shared meaning of their joint practice. Follow-up interviews, as well as thematic and language analysis of data obtained from audiotaping and transcribing interviews and group sessions, suggest changes in participants' perceptions of their practice and of their colleagues. Themes developed across data sets include perceptions of the environment, both inside and outside the institution; relationships with others­ including students, colleagues, and family members, and personal experience of the practice, all of which are subject to struggles or battles. The length of time engaged in the practice influences how each of these themes is experienced. The use of metaphors and of personal pronouns is also examined; results indicate that the form of participant comments is congruent with the content of those comments. Be engaging in collaborative learning in eight group sessions over three months, participants were able to construct joint understandings about their shared experience. These understandings were expressed in terms of knowing where we are coming from, making sense of our experience, and recognizing the shape of our experience. This study suggests implications for workplace culture change initiatives in other settings.

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