01 SES 07 A, Collaboration and Professional Development Communities
Considering the recent changes in schools implementing inclusive education, there seems to be a growing need for multiprofessional collaboration to support students appropriately. In Germany, “inclusive schools” were recently developed promoting the goal of inclusion of children with disabilities. In this context, “inclusive school” means teaching students with diverse needs including special education students, in the same classroom. Thus, not only regular school staff but also special education teachers are employed to support special education students (Richter & Pant, 2016).
Correspondingly, since 2000, Germany has undergone a substantial policy initiative with the objective of extending the school day. In the so-called “all-day schools” teaching takes place from 8 am to 5 pm. Regarding other school systems in Europe, the concept of an “all-day school” in Germany is comparable to a “leisure-time centre” in Sweden (Klerfelt & Haglund, 2014). While the schooling that takes place from morning to midday is being held by regular school staff, afternoon activities are offered by additional educational staff.
As a result, the multiprofessional composition of the school staff encourages teachers and other professional educational staff to work together, shaping schools into promising places of joint learning and living (Richter & Pant, 2016).
In this context, we want to define multiprofessional collaboration as a collaborative act of two or more professionals from different professional groups who work in the education sector. This must be distinguished from professional collaboration at schools, which refers to the collaboration of members of the same profession, e.g. teachers.
Referring to the beneficial effects of teacher collaboration, collaboration seems to be an integral part of professionalism and professional development (e.g. Hord, 1997; Sachs, 2006). Furthermore, school staff can participate in teams or professional learning communities to improve schools and enhance students’ performance (e.g. Vangrieken et al., 2015).
Considering certain theoretical models of teacher collaboration (e.g. Gräsel et al., 2006; Little, 1990), we distinguished three levels of multiprofessional collaboration (e.g. Böhm-Kasper et al., 2013). Level 1 is the mutual exchange of materials and information. This is a simple form of collaboration. Teachers and other educational staff might, for example, exchange information about certain events that took place in the morning or the afternoon. Level 2 is division of labour. This a closer form of collaboration. An example of this is that teachers divide up thematic project work among themselves. Level 3, co-construction, is the closest form of collaboration: teachers construct a common base of knowledge together with other education professionals. In a co-constructive approach, a multiprofessional team can, for example, develop shared values and goals for their schools. Co-constructive work can also be a part and benefit (professional) learning communities.
Based on theoretical literature and empirical results, we find that all three levels of collaboration can provide a certain amount of work relief for teachers and additional educational staff (e.g. Böhm-Kasper et al., 2016). However, several studies reveal hindrances to multiprofessional collaboration, including non-reciprocal partnership and unequal task-division (e.g., Reh & Breuer). In our presentation, we first summarize our empirical findings about the characteristics and difficulties that teachers and additional educational staff report about multiprofessional collaboration in all-day schools. We then address our research question: Which teacher behaviours and school factors faciliate more intensive multiprofessional collaboration?
Our research employed a mixed methods design as described by Creswell & Plano Clark (2011). We used an embedded design with a quantitative study to start, followed by a qualitative study (with 24 semi-structured interviews) to gather additional data about the characteristics of multiprofessional collaboration. A further quantitative study was conducted to establish the generalizability of the qualitative findings. The results of our qualitative study show that teachers and additional educational staff collaborate almost exclusively on level 1. This means they exchange materials and information about their instruction and students, but do not divide tasks or do co-construction. Based on these findings, we developed a measuring instrument for multiprofessional collaboration. We tested the questionnaire on multiprofessional collaboration using a quantitative cross-sectional study (n=620) of teachers from secondary schools (ISCED-level 2). We conducted a confirmatory factor analysis and extracted three dimensions of multiprofessional cooperation: (1) student-focused mutual exchange of materials and information (α=.85), (2) instruction-focused mutual exchange of materials and information (α=.86) and (3) relief through collaboration (α=.92). The fit indices to judge the global model structure show an acceptable degree of adaptation to the model. The three factors are closely related (Φ1,2 = .70, Φ1,3 = .65, Φ2,3 = .96). In particular, the student-related mutual exchange of materials and information and the experience of relief are closely connected. A bifactorial model is, however, not superior to the trifactorial one. Then, we conducted a cluster analysis on the three dimensions of the multiprofessional collaboration. The aim was to identify and analyse possible differences in the answer patterns of the teachers surveyed. We considered socio-demographic data (e.g. sex and age) and the following two features of the teachers: teacher self-efficacy and work engagement. Furthermore, we included relevant school organisational and group factors, for example, shared goals, teacher collaboration and job-provided autonomy, leadership support and type of school. Additionally, we used (multi-level) regression models to investigate our research question in depth.
The results of the 3-cluster-solution indicate that in the so-called "collaboration-active cluster” the teachers clearly demonstrate above-average values in all three dimensions of multiprofessional collaboration. These teachers cooperate with members of the other educational staff in matters relating to both instruction and students. The perceived relief is correspondingly great. To identify more precisely which teachers are “collaboration-active”, we related their cluster affiliation to demographic and individual features. As to the sex of the teaching staff, it is important to note that women were found more often in the collaboration-active cluster than men. Additionally, teachers, who have high profession-related self-efficacy were also classified in the collaboration-active cluster. Furthermore, results of (multi-level) regression models can provide school effects for multiprofessional collaboration: leadership support, shared goals by the teaching staff and a positive school climate contribute to increased multiprofessional cooperation. In our discussion, we link these findings to the challenges of multiprofessional collaboration in inclusive schools.
Böhm-Kasper, O., Dizinger, V., & Gausling, P. (2016). Multiprofessional Collaboration Between Teachers and Other Educational Staff at German All-day Schools as a Characteristic of Today´s Professionalism. International Journal for Research on Extended Education 4(1), 29-51. Böhm-Kasper, O., Dizinger, V., & Heitmann, V. (2013). Interprofessionelle Kooperation an offenen und gebundenen Ganztagsschulen. Zeitschrift für Grundschulforschung, 6(2), 53–68. Creswell, J.W., & Plano Clark, V.L. (2011). Designing and conducting mixed methods research. Los Angeles: Sage. Gräsel, C., Fussangel, K., & Pröbstel, C. (2006). Die Anregung von Lehrkräften zur Kooperation - eine Aufgabe für Sisyphos? Zeitschrift für Pädagogik, 52(2), 205–219. Hord, S. M. (1997). Professional learning communities: Communities of continuous inquiry and improvement. Austin, Texas: Southwest Educational Development Laboratory. Klerfelt, A., & Haglund, B. (2014). Presentation of Research on School-Age Educare in Sweden. International Journal of Research on Extended Education. 2(1), 45-62. Little, J. W. (1990). The Persistence of Privacy. Teachers College Record, 91(4), 509–536. Sachs, J. (2003).The activist teaching profession. Professional learning. Buckingham: Open University Press. Reh, S., & Breuer, A. (2012). Positionierungen in interprofessionellen Teams. Kooperationspraktiken an Ganztagsschulen. In S.G. Huber & F. Ahlgrimm (Eds.): Kooperation. Aktuelle Forschung zur Kooperation in und zwischen Schulen sowie mit anderen Partnern (pp. 185-201). Münster: Waxmann. Richter, D., & Pant, H. A. (2016). Lehrerkooperation in Deutschland. Eine Studie zu kooperativen Arbeitsbeziehungen bei Lehrkräften der Sekundarstufe I. Gütersloh: Bertelsmann Stiftung u.a. Vangrieken, K., Dochy, F., Raes, E., & Kyndt, E. (2015). Teacher collaboration: A systematic review. Educational Research Review, 15, 17-40.
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