Building communities and sharing knowledge: a study into teachers working together across national boundaries

  • James Underwood

    Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


    This dissertation explores the types of professional communities that are built when teachers work in initiatives that, in various forms, link them to teachers from other countries. In doing so it explores the types of knowledge that may be exchanged by the building of these communities and the value that teachers put upon these different forms of knowledge. Therefore, this study is situated in the broad theoretical context of discussions related to the building of professional communities but explores this within a specifically international context. The most significant findings that this dissertation identifies are: that the teachers involved built the professional communities that are most important to them in more exploratory ways and with more agency than is suggested by other related research, and in connection to this that those professional communities that the participants attached most significance to were consistently alternative to the immediate workplace. It was also found that whilst the teachers involved in this study problematised the possibility of directly transferring specific classroom strategies, stories about teaching were seen by all to be useful vehicles for exchanging other forms of knowledge, for enabling affirmation and for co-constructing moral purpose. These findings have potential implications for policy and practice as they indicate that structures that focus exclusively on developing communities within schools may need to be enriched by those that provide teachers with the flexibility to discover and build communities in alternative ways too. The primary data collection method used when conducting this research was interview. The participants who were interviewed came from two countries, namely England and Macedonia. This entirely qualitative approach is positioned within an interpretivist paradigm. However, it is argued that contributions to theoretical debates regarding the nature of professional communities can still be made.
    Date of Award2017
    Original languageEnglish
    Awarding Institution
    • University of Cambridge

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