Collective intelligence in schools: an exploration of teacher engagement in the making of significant new meaning

PhD Thesis


Conway, Joan Margaret. 2008. Collective intelligence in schools: an exploration of teacher engagement in the making of significant new meaning. PhD Thesis Doctor of Philosophy. University of Southern Queensland.
Title

Collective intelligence in schools: an exploration of teacher engagement in the making of significant new meaning

TypePhD Thesis
Authors
AuthorConway, Joan Margaret
SupervisorCrowther, Frank
Institution of OriginUniversity of Southern Queensland
Qualification NameDoctor of Philosophy
Number of Pages269
Year2008
Abstract

[Abstract]:

It is universally acknowledged that teachers are a critical key in the enhancement of student achievement in our schools. Less accepted is that teachers are key knowledge workers in emerging 21st century societies, demonstrating understandings of how new knowledge is created as well as what it looks like. The related issue of how schools actually function as productive professional learning communities, and how teachers engage in their own learning processes, remains at best vaguely understood.

The research on which this dissertation was based sought to establish new insights into the dynamics of how teachers who are engaged in a process of successful development and revitalisation create new knowledge and make significant new meaning. The research acknowledged that meanings ascribed to the processes in question might well be influenced by issues of ideology. Thus, in addition to drawing heavily on recent literature relating to the concepts of professional learning communities, distributed leadership and collective intelligence, the study incorporated a multiperspective dimension. The following research problem was established to guide the creation of research questions, a research design and related methodology:

What emerges as a construct of collective intelligence in schools when teacher engagement in a pedagogical knowledge formation process is viewed from different ideological perspectives?

The collective in this study was constituted of the membership of two professional learning communities independently engaged in a widely used process of school revitalisation, the IDEAS (Innovative Designs for Enhancing Achievement in Schools) process. IDEAS utilises a number of distinctive educational constructs, including parallel leadership, alignment of key organisational elements and a schoolwide approach to teaching and learning, to engage the professional community of a school in the creation of significant new knowledge in the form of vision statements, values and pedagogical frameworks.

The data collected from each school community’s knowledge-generating experiences are presented in two case study bricolages. Interpretation of these data led to identification of particular characteristics associated with professional learning processes for successful meaning-making. Further analysis of the data, through the lenses of three ideological perspectives (critical reflection, hermeneutic phenomenology and orgmindfulness) resulted in the proposal of a construct for collective intelligence in schools.

Of particular significance as a result of the research is the postulation of a new image of the professional teacher – one who recognises his/her capacity for engagement in collective and reflective practices through the exercise of new ways of thinking and acting in support of student achievement. The findings prompt further inquiry into the deep meanings associated with the dynamics of successful professional learning communities in both schools and a spectrum of other organisations.

Keywordscollective intelligence; schools; teacher engagement
ANZSRC Field of Research 2020390199. Curriculum and pedagogy not elsewhere classified
390203. Sociology of education
Byline AffiliationsFaculty of Education
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