Micropolitical characteristics of teacher collegiality and their relationship to teachers' perception of effect on student outcomes

Deborah Herzfeld Cline, Fordham University


Educational reform efforts have recently focused on professionalization of teacher work through enhanced collegial opportunity. Although the broad concept of teacher collegiality is frequently espoused, it is rarely clearly defined or described. There is no universal model of collegiality and the most beneficial forms of teacher collaboration might actually be the least common. It is important to examine the characteristics and consequences of the many forms of teacher collegiality in order to optimize its effectiveness in terms of improved student outcomes. The purpose of this study was to describe the different forms of collegiality that currently exist for Connecticut's public elementary school teachers and to explore relationships between specific characteristics of collegiality and teachers' perceptions of the relative effectiveness of their collaborative efforts in terms of improving student outcome. Linear systematic sampling was used to draw a random sample of 300 teachers from the list of all Connecticut public elementary school teachers. The Elementary Teacher Collegiality Survey, developed by this researcher as a self-administered instrument, was mailed to the 300 respondents. A total of 184 respondents, or 61.4% of the teachers in the sample, returned their surveys. The findings indicated that the respondents engaged significantly more frequently in bounded work than in deeper, joint collegial activities. Collegial work in which educators have opportunities to observe their colleagues' teaching was especially rare. Discussion focused on the respondents' perception of significantly lowered collegial effectiveness as collegial activities became more administratively controlled. When asked to choose their most effective collegial activities, the respondents tended to choose collaborative work that they could influence and that fulfilled their needs, was voluntary, and developed teacher initiatives. Smaller collegial reference groups and more frequent engagement in collegial activity were positively related to the respondents' choice of most effective collegial work. Having a leader with special authority participate in a collegial activity was negatively related to effectiveness. Respondents indicated that they had insufficient time to meet with colleagues, especially teachers from other schools and teachers from other grade levels. Respondents indicated that they learned the most from colleagues in their own grade level with whom they also met most frequently.

Subject Area

School administration|Elementary education

Recommended Citation

Cline, Deborah Herzfeld, "Micropolitical characteristics of teacher collegiality and their relationship to teachers' perception of effect on student outcomes" (1997). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI9729601.