Date of Award
Doctor of Education (EdD)
Educational Leadership and Policy Studies
Many teachers of young adolescents face compelling pressures to dramatically change their practice. The rapid adoption of 1:1 computing, whereby each student has nearly constant access to an Internet-connected laptop, netbook or tablet, poses unique challenges to established practices in curriculum, instruction and classroom management. A growing number of teachers also confront a movement to provide students more personalized and flexible pathways to high school graduation, including experiential, blended and online learning, and allow students to apply knowledge and skills to tasks of personal interest. How teachers cope in this dynamic period may hinge on their ongoing professional development.
In recent decades, a general consensus has emerged that promotes teaching as a learning profession in which teachers work together in learning communities and seek expertise not just from outside experts, but also from colleagues attuned to local circumstances. At the same time, the student voice movement encouraged schools to empower students as key collaborators in school improvement. In spite of common themes in the narratives on teacher learning and student voice—collaboration, empowerment and effective change—they seldom intersect in traditional professional development settings or in teachers' collegial learning. This dissertation proposes student consultation as a link between students and teachers in collaborative school improvement and suggests next steps toward more sustainable efforts to involve students in the preparation and ongoing learning of teachers. Three studies are presented.
The first study described a weeklong summer professional development institute in which students have played a central role for more than two decades. It outlined the conditions conducive to the collaborative culture among teachers and consulting students and summarizes participants' perspectives on student consultation. The second study applied a qualitative case study design involving observations, interviews, focus groups and surveys with 72 teachers and 20 students to delve more deeply into consultations at the summer institute. Most teachers and students perceived the consultations as enjoyable and beneficial, willingly embraced shifts in authority during consultations, and noted the benefits of strategies employed to support the culture and practices of student consultations. The third study explored how teachers engaged with students as consultants in classroom action research projects initiated at the summer institute and in professional development contexts. The multi-site, collective case study examined six projects involving twelve teachers and 241 students. Interviews and focus groups with nine teachers and 22 students were coded by stages of the action research cycle and characteristics of student involvement in order to examine at which stages in the action research and in what capacities teachers involved their students. The study confirmed teachers' and students' general appreciation of consultation and suggests that parsing the subtleties of when and how students are consulted can contribute to deeper understand of student involvement and better facilitation of action research in teacher professional development. Together, this collection of studies has implications for the design and evaluation of student consultation in teacher professional development.
Number of Pages
Downes, John Matthew, "Middle Grades Students as Teacher Educators: Consulting with Students in Professional Development" (2016). Graduate College Dissertations and Theses. 544.