XChange - Publications and Resources for Public School Professionals

teacher collaborative inquiry

Editorial Introduction


Collaborating teachersMight collaborative teacher inquiry be a part of the antidote to what ails schools in the United States?  Some argue that teacher collaboration is a missing link in the current discussion on school reform (Rebora, 2011).  The desire to engage teachers in dialogue about change was certainly part of our thinking when Center X applied for the Teacher Based-Reform (T-BAR) Pilot Program being sponsored by the California Postsecondary Education Commission. (Follow this link for more information on the program– http://centerx.gseis.ucla.edu/partnerships-grants/tiip/research-evaluation/tiip-research-and-evaluation-overview).  As part of our grant proposal we laid out a plan to fund the work of teacher inquiry teams and named the program the Teacher-Initiated Inquiry Projects, TIIP for short.  We created a grant competition for teams of teachers throughout Los Angeles County in which they competed for funding of their inquiry plan.  As part of their plan, we asked teams to identify a localized problem that needed solving, engage and implement their learning at their school sites, collect data and share what they had discovered with others.

As of 2009, we have funded 75 TIIP Teams, who continue to impress us with their dedication and focus on teaching and learning.  TIIP teachers reported changes in themselves and their students based on their participation in the program.Teacher presentingTeachers indicated that they have  improved their content knowledge and their pedagogical practices in service of creating more meaningful learning for their students. They are also consider themselves effective and more reflective practitioners who are motivated to stay in the field. Other studies have shown positive change in classroom practice as one of the impacts of collaborative inquiry on teachers (Egodawatte, McDougall and Stoilescu, 2011; Ermeling, 2009; Friedrich and McKinney, 2010; Goddard, Goddard and Tschannen-Moran, 2007; Goodnough, 2010).  Each of these researchers speaks to teachers incorporating new instructional strategies or approaches into their classroom in order to improve student understanding.  Similarly, findings from these studies show that changes in practice result in an increased sense of self-efficacy and agency on the part of teacher participating in the inquiry process (Egodawatte et al., 2011; Friedrich and McKinney, 2010; Hall, 2009).  This agency is the outgrowth of teachers being able to: 1) choose their own professional development (Egodawatte et al., 2011); 2) to identify areas of study and engage in research (Hall, 2009); and 3) to focus on student success (Friedrich and McKinney, 2010).

This issue of the XChange focuses on the research and practice associated with teacher inquiry.  In XPress, we present the research we have collected on the TIIP grants, which is one of four master grantees in the TBAR Pilot Program in California.  In this section we also feature the work of Teachers’ PD INC, out of Chico State University, as well as present a report sponsored by the California Department of Education on the work of the four T-BAR master grantees.   In ourTeacher Workroom, we feature 11 online portfolios created by TIIP teams which include lesson plans and multiple resources.  In Student Commons, we present three examples of graduate student work focused on teacher inquiry, and a student presentation to the American Evaluation Association on the use of participatory evaluation to better understand teacher-initiated inquiry projects.

We are beginning a new iteration of the TIIP work in the summer of 2014, so stay tuned for more news.  We would be remiss if we didn’t thank all the TIIP teams, our colleagues at Center X and SRM, Marcia Trott, the California Department of Education, and the California Postsecondary Education Commission for their support.


Rebora, A. (2011). Teacher collaboration: the missing link in school reform? Education Week, Retrieved from: http://blogs.edweek.org/teachers/teaching_now/2011/09/teacher_collaboration_the_missing_link_in_school_reform.html

Egodawatte, G., McDougall, D., & Stoilescu, D. (2011). The effects of teacher collaboration in grade 9 applied mathematics. Educational Research for Policy and Practice, 10(3), 189–209.

Ermeling, B. A. (2010). Tracing the effects of teacher inquiry on classroom practice. Teaching and Teacher Education: An International Journal of Research and Studies, 26(3), 377–388.

Friedrich, L., & McKinney, M. (2010). Teacher inquiry for equity: collaborating to improve teaching and learning.Language Arts, 87(4), 241–251.

Goddard, Y. L., Goddard, R. D., & Tschannen-Moran, M. (2007). A theoretical and empirical investigation of teacher collaboration for school improvement and student achievement in public elementary schools. Teachers College Record, 109(4), 877–896.

Goodnough, K. (2010). Teacher learning and collaborative action research: generating a “knowledge-of-practice” in the context of science education. Journal of Science Teacher Education, 21(8), 917–935. doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10972-010-9215-y

Hall, E. (2009). Engaging in and engaging with research: teacher inquiry and development. Teachers and Teaching: Theory and Practice, 15(6), 669–681.

Slavit, D., Kennedy, A., Lean, Z., Nelson, T. H., & Deuel, A. (2011). Support for Professional Collaboration in Middle School Mathematics: A Complex Web. Teacher Education Quarterly, 38(3), 113–131.