Sustaining a mature teacher inquiry network

by Sarah Bea Satter

Institution: Boston University
Year: 2014
Record ID: 2024858
Full text PDF: http://hdl.handle.net/2144/11042


This research consisted of a case study of an active network for teacher inquiry. Specifically, I investigated how an organization dedicated to teacher inquiry had provided the structure, leadership, and resources to sustain, maintain, and expand the network. The group studied was the Mid-Ohio Writing Project, a teacher inquiry network affiliated with the National Writing Project. The Bolman & Deal (2003) framework for organization analysis, network theory, and small group dynamics provided frameworks for examining how the MOWP network had maintained itself since 1999. Data was collected through the use of largely participatory research methods, by means of both structured and unstructured approaches. Twenty-five members of the MOWP were observed, surveyed, interviewed, and invited to participate in focus groups involving visual representation exercises and discussion. The data were analyzed through categorical aggregation. Systems of open-coding, triangulation (among methods of analysis and means of data collection), and saturation (through extensive member checks, external audits, and progressive visual graphs) were used to increase the trustworthiness of the study and counteract possible reactive forces of participatory research. The findings of the study showed that practices of homogeneity, homophily, and insularity allowed the MOWP members the benefit of creating and protecting a safe haven in which to practice the scholarship of teaching. Simultaneously, efforts to preserve harmony discouraged attention to issues such as social justice and diversity, thus stunting recruitment and retention. It is recommended that similar groups create formal mission and vision statements, establish and maintain external funding resources from specific coalitions and stakeholders, develop a efficacious leadership structure to allow for a transparent connection between the network and larger umbrella organizations, streamline the number of groups in the network to produce meaningful work that will attract potential members and stakeholders, and use technology to link the group with the larger educational community.