Crossing the Boundaries: Solidarity, Identity, and Mutual Learning in a K‐20 Partnership

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Abstract: This study investigates possibilities for faculty members and teachers to overcome status and professional culture barriers as they engage in partnership work aimed at promoting inquiry-based instruction. It compares the processes and outcomes of several types of professional learning opportunities within a Math and Science Partnership based on how well they facilitated productive communication, student-centered instructional practices, and knowledge negotiation. It discusses conflicts as components of faculty member/teacher interactions, regardless of the setting. However, when laboratory materials provide a relevant context for collaborative learning, and when there are opportunities for the development of microlevel interactional solidarity, conflicts can lead to knowledge negotiation rather than disengagement. Furthermore, these settings can reduce faculty members' use of lecture-based approaches, mitigate status differences, and facilitate the development of reform-minded identities. This study suggests that while a focus on mutual learning is preferable to transmission in K-20 partnerships, it is important to consider that mutual learning may be a negotiated product emerging from conflict and dialogue rather than an unproblematic exchange of information. In addition, it suggests that K-20 partnerships should intentionally create opportunities that foster the establishment of goal-oriented temporary communities, as these can support persistence through conflicts, reform-minded teaching identities, and inquiry-based instruction.

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