Beyond the Divide: Relations between Teachers and Academics in a Collaborative Research Partnership

Hall, Graeme William (2005) Beyond the Divide: Relations between Teachers and Academics in a Collaborative Research Partnership. PhD thesis, Queensland University of Technology.


The notion of "partnership" dominates contemporary school improvement and educational reform agendas. Most discourse about partnerships between schools and universities historically relates to the apparent divide between practice and theory, between practitioner and academy. This study departs from these traditional perspectives to move beyond the divide between teachers and academics. Designing strategies for re-visioning this historical divide within the education community, between teachers and academics, engages the profession at all levels. Instead of simply re-visioning this divide, however, we can envision a professional place where the divide does not exist. Addressing this divide requires teachers and academics, when they do come together for the purpose of collaborative work of any kind, to actively seek to understand each other's work.

This study examines one school and university partnership that was modelled on the principles of a Professional Development School. It investigates the meeting talk between groups of teachers and academics as they plan and report on a collaborative project aimed at improving Mathematics teaching practices in the school. Whereas most research investigating school and university partnerships addresses the outcomes of such partnerships, or attempts to describe and advocate for ideal partnerships, this study considers the actual interactional work of the participants as they engage in the everyday and ongoing activities of partnership. It shows how partnerships are constructed through talk and activity. Instead of considering the partnership as a predetermined and pre-existing phenomenon, this study adopts the view that the work of partnership is an ongoing accomplishment through the activity of the participants. In this way, this study shows the local social order of a partnership as it was built, maintained and transformed through the interactional work of the participants. Both the institutional setting and the participants' enactment of partnership work contribute to the establishment of the social and moral order of the partnership.

The principal question addressed in the study asks how participants accomplish the partnership work through their social interactions with one another. It considers the interactional resources that the partners (teachers, interns and academics) use to construct their talk and interactions with one another in the project; and how the partners construct themselves and the other members as members of the partnership, as academics/researchers and as teachers.

This study drew on ethnomethodological resources to develop understandings about how the participants accomplish the partnership work through their talk-in-interaction. The specific focus is the talk of partnership that occurred in meetings between members of the school and of the university. These meetings were audio-recorded, transcribed, and finely analysed using the techniques and procedures of conversation analysis and membership category analysis. These methodological resources revealed the social and moral orders at work. Analysis of the meeting talk shows the specific activities and relationships developed by the principal of the school in the accomplishment of the partnership; the ways in which the various participants develop and use their claims to expertise (or lack of it) in doing partnership work; and how participants use the institutional resource of meeting talk to accomplish the partnership work.

The study is of significance to educators, teachers and academics. It provides new and rich understandings about how school and university partnerships are accomplished through the participants' meetings. It shows the resources that the participants use to construct and accomplish their different kinds of expertise, to enact the leadership activities required, and to co-construct the various features of partnership. The study offers analytic tools for uncovering the interactional resource of the participants. The ethnomethodological resources, particularly conversation analysis and membership category analysis, can be used to analyse in close detail the social interactions of participants in the institutional talk of meetings. In showing how the social and moral orders of partnerships are revealed and by offering understandings of the pragmatics of school and university partnership, the social structure of school and university partnerships is explicated. The study offers one example of what a school and university partnership can be like. Epistemologically, it explores and exposes the kinds of knowledge produced from this kind of accounting for school and university partnerships. It shows how the work of partnership can be accomplished by participants, rather than attempt to claim how it should be done.

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ID Code: 16084
Item Type: QUT Thesis (PhD)
Supervisor: Danby, Susan, McWilliam, Erica, & Millwater, Jan
Keywords: School-university partnership, Professional development, Meeting talk, Expertise, Leadership, Ethnomethodology, Conversation analysis, Membership category analysis
Divisions: Current > Research Centres > Office of Education Research
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Education
Department: Faculty of Education
Institution: Queensland University of Technology
Copyright Owner: Copyright Graeme William Hall
Deposited On: 03 Dec 2008 03:56
Last Modified: 22 Mar 2016 04:04

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