Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Educational Leadership


Dr. Donny Lee


This qualitative multi-case study examined how various practicing secondary principals in the Northwest Region of Arkansas perceive teacher collaboration within secondary schools. Job-embedded opportunities for teacher collaboration have been cited as successful ways for promoting teacher learning, which in turn will promote increased student learning (Little, 1990). Researchers and theorists cite properly supported collaboration as key to lasting school improvement (DuFour & Eaker, 1998; Fullan, 1997; Little, 1990). In order for the practice of collaboration to be embedded in secondary schools, a culture must be created within a supportive environment to support the collaborative efforts. DuFour and Eaker (1998) credit creating an environment conducive for teacher collaboration as the most important factor when considering school improvement initiatives.

Data instruments used in this study were focus group interviews with the researcher acting as moderator of the focus groups. Findings from this study showed that principals are most likely to have the greatest influence on the capacity of teachers to become more collaborative and on changing the current practice of teachers instructing in isolation the majority of the time (Inger, 1993; Whitaker, 2003). To plan for the needed changes in secondary schools, an understanding is needed of principals’ perceptions of factors affecting teacher collaboration. To provide such an understanding, focus group interviews were held with secondary principals from Northwest Arkansas. Three focus groups were held, from which the data were collected and analyzed for emerging themes.

This qualitative study provides a description of secondary principals’ perceptions of the factors affecting teacher collaboration in their schools, including how the process unfolded, what the major events in the process were, what the barriers to the process were, and what strategies facilitated such collaboration. This study also describes how principals attempt to support teacher collaboration, and what training and supports they feel need to be in order to improve teacher collaboration in their secondary schools. Finally, outcomes from the process of teacher collaboration were enumerated by practicing principals.

The research findings indicate that the secondary principals in this study identified several factors that influenced the existing condition of teacher collaboration in their schools. Principals viewed some of the factors as being successfully implemented and practiced, some of the factors as difficult to address due to barriers, and some of the factors within their influence to impact if trainings, changes, supports, or professional development became embedded as a part of the daily practice at their school.

Secondary principals may consider the findings of this study to compliment their plans for improving teacher collaboration in their schools. Educational researchers may examine the findings of this study as the basis of future qualitative or quantitative research to add to the existing knowledge base concerning teacher collaboration.

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