Research: Collaboration Is Key for Teacher Quality

Teachers get better when they work together. That's the simple conclusion of a massive study on how teachers collaborate with one another and why they do it.

University of Michigan and Vanderbilt University professors, led by Assistant Professor Matthew Ronfeldt of Michigan, looked at data from and surveyed 9,000 teachers at 336 schools in the Miami-Dade County Public School System, one of the largest school districts in the United States.

Almost 90 percent of the teachers surveyed said that the collaboration they find in working as instructional teams was helpful in improving student learning, according to the survey's conclusions.

"Growing research evidence suggests that a teacher's quality is not fixed and depends a great deal upon a school's working environment and climate, and the quality of colleagues around her," said Ronfeldt.

Teachers were asked to evaluate the impact of collaboration on certain components of their professional work: assessments, instruction and student behavior.

While the majority of teachers said across-the-board collaboration in all facets of their work was most helpful, they also said that collaboration had the greatest impact in dealing with assessments.

"These results have important implications for school leaders looking for ways to boost student outcomes," said Vanderbilt Associate Professor Jason Grissom. "Focusing on building teacher teams and providing meaningful ways for teachers to work together on the tough challenges they encounter can lead to substantively important achievement gains."

About the Author

Michael Hart is a Los Angeles-based freelance writer and the former executive editor of THE Journal.

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