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teacher collaborative inquiry

Student Commons

Student Commons contains student work from both research and practice about teacher collaborative inquiry.


Integrating Curriculum: A teacher inquiry approach to creating an integrated secular Judaic unit

Hannah Bennett

The majority of Reform Jewish Day Schools have integrated secular Judaic Studies curricular missions. The missions cannot be achieved, though, because the schools do not have teachers who are able to integrate the curriculum nor do they have an integrated curriculum. On the surface. the findings of this research project do not seem groundbreaking. But if you ask the teachers involved in this study, they will explain how markedly innovative the experience was. The idea was quite simple – gather a group of teachers to solve the problem of the lack of integrated secular and Judaic curriculum at the Jewish Day School of Los Angeles. The results of the study created an integrated secular Judaic unit, but also validated the work and the value of the teachers involved in the study. If the Jewish Day School of Los Angeles and the larger Reform Jewish day school movement is going to integrate Jewish and secular studies, it will need to commit to hiring qualified staff, training teachers in integrating curriculum and topics around Judaism and creating a school system that supports the integration of Judaic studies and secular studies. When teachers sit down to do the work of integrating secular and Judaic studies, the school can expect teachers to produce cross disciplinary thinking as a result of the language and vocabulary that emerges from the work on integrating disciplines. In order to do this work the school needs motivated teachers who are willing to participate in the process, and needs to provide meaningful professional development.


The impact of critical inquiry in teacher development: A multiple case study of eight first year central city teachers.

Karina Betabe Otoya

This multiple case study of eight first-year teachers examines the proposition that participation in inquiry will assist new teachers to build and sustain their commitment to create socially just classrooms and schools in impoverished neighborhoods. The participants in this study are new teachers who were beginning the second year of UCLA’s two-year teacher education program (TEP). As part of their program, the new teachers had agreed to teach for at least one year in urban schools, attended predominately by low-income students of color, while they complete their masters’ degrees and requirements for a teacher certification. For a year, these eight teachers invited me into their classrooms twice each month to witness their struggles and successes. Then, as part of the TEP, we met monthly to reflect critically and analyze the many experiences that intertwined their lives with those of their students and school communities. In this inquiry group, the teachers explored new ways of thinking about their students and the multicultural contexts of their schools. My dissertation investigates how inquiry and critique (later called critical inquiry) combined as part of a university’s teacher preparation program, influenced the development of these teachers.


Collaborative Inquiry: A Strategy for Assessing Response to Instruction and Intervention (RtI2) for English Learner Students

Lynn Vineyard

This pilot study describes elementary teachers’ use of collaborative inquiry as a strategy for assessing Response to Instruction and Intervention (RtI2 ) in reading for an English Learner student. The design of the study was based on the sociocultural theory that assessment practices shape teachers’ understanding of students and of the learning environment. Three case studies describe collaborative inquiry as a possible solution to the problem of inaccurate teacher interpretations when assessing English Learner (EL) students in English immersion programs. Inaccurate teacher assessments of EL students can lead to the continuation of insufficient instructional support and/or unwarranted referrals to the school’s Student Study Team (SST). Research connects inaccuracies in teacher referral decisions to the over- and under-representation of EL students in special education.

The accuracy and validity of teacher referrals and ultimately the instructional services for at-risk EL students depend on classroom teachers’ analyses of EL students’ individual differences in culture, second language acquisition and literacy development, as well as the classroom context for learning. An assessment of EL students’ response to reading instruction that only examines students’ component reading skills may not provide teachers with useful evidence about these students’ unique experience of language and literacy in the classroom and at home. A sociocultural approach to RtI 2 potentially builds teacher capacity to use systematic and collaborative assessment practices that may benefit at-risk EL students by framing multiple sources of evidence that equip teachers to understand the unique needs of these students.

In the current project an RtI2 collaborative inquiry protocol was developed using the literature on Response to Intervention, school inquiry teams, sociocultural validity theory of assessment, and data based decision-making. Three teams composed of a lead teacher and two or three supporting teachers at three different urban, public elementary schools tested the protocol as a Tier I reading assessment strategy for EL students. Each lead teacher selected an at-risk EL student from her class to assess. The sample of eleven volunteer teachers assessed three target students during a five-week period in the spring of 2010.

The RtI2 collaborative inquiry protocol supported teachers with processes for data based, decision making within a problem-solving framework. The use of protocols guided teachers through an inquiry approach to data analysis that included: (a) delaying judgment by asking questions raised by the data; (b) collecting and analyzing multiple sources and types of data over a period of time; and (c) formulating hypotheses that linked probable, controllable causes of the student’s learning problem with possible solutions. Teachers used evidence constructed from their analysis of the data to formulate and implement a Tier I plan for differentiating instruction and assessing the target students’ response.

Three case studies captured teachers’ interpretations, decisions and actions, including their decision of whether or not the student needed additional, more intensive levels of support outside of the classroom. Evidence from direct observation, document review and interview data show that teachers’ use of collaborative inquiry changed their assessment of the English Learner student and informed instructional decisions that created additional opportunities for the student to learn. Teachers’ use of collaborative inquiry as an assessment strategy provided them with support, input and accountability that they used to implement a focused, individualized and responsive Tier I plan for the target student. Each lead teacher’s plan addressed the student’s academic and social-emotional needs and strengthened the home-school web of support for learning. Teachers said their new insight into the target student’s needs and abilities encouraged them to continue targeted Tier I differentiation strategies.

Teachers changed their attribution of the learning problem from external causes over which they had no control to problems of practice they could control. This was a surprising finding, given that these collaborative inquiry teams only worked together for three hours over five weeks. This result suggests that teachers’ use of the collaborative inquiry protocol created a setting for them to address questions of practice similar to settings studied in the research on professional learning communities.

A protocol for collaborative inquiry, such as the RtI2 collaborative inquiry protocol tested in the current study may strengthen teachers’ Tier I implementation in the classroom. Collaborative inquiry protocols may empower teachers to co-create the support and resources needed to solve instructional dilemmas without referring at-risk students out of the classroom. While the sample of teachers was small, the authentic description of teachers’ work in actual school settings and from teachers’ point of view supports the credibility of these findings.


TIIP AEA Presentation

Lisa M. Dillman and Nicole Marie-Gerardi MacCalla

As evaluators of a program intending to develop a cadre of teacher leaders in the county of Los Angeles, we were charged with understanding the impact of teacher-initiated inquiry on whole-school reform. Teacher participants in this program spanned all grades, content areas, and a wide variety of school settings. The complex ecology in which this evaluation was embedded dramatically confounded the evaluation design and execution. To address these challenges, the evaluation team adopted a participatory evaluation approach, through which we supported teachers in constructing websites that allow them to describe, interpret, and share their own data. These websites, now completed, share valuable information and resources to support teaching and learning in the classrooms of other teachers who visit the website.

This Power Point presents information about our experiences leading participatory evaluation in which teachers were the primary source of data collection and interpretation through online web portfolios. Specifically, information is included about the process of developing the infrastructure (the partnerships required and the training involved), how this aided our evaluation efforts (teachers are collecting and analyzing their own data), some of the best practices that emerged (providing office hours, communicating best practices for web design, encouraging teachers to use photos and videos, framing websites in terms of audience, etc.) and some of the challenges we faced (getting teacher buy-in, addressing varying levels of interest and tech expertise).

Using Technology to Facilitate Participatory Evaluation: A Case Study of a Teacher-Initiated Inquiry Project (7MB)

Using Technology to Facilitate Participatory Evaluation: A Case Study of a Teacher-Initiated Inquiry Project