The effects of teacher collaboration on students' understanding of high school earth science concepts
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Teacher collaboration has been widely implemented in the secondary school setting as an integral component within a professional learning community in an effort to increase student achievement and to foster a better working environment for teachers. The effects of teacher collaboration on both students and teachers of Earth science in a high school environment were investigated in this project. Particularly, the project examined the effects of collaboration of Earth science teachers on student understanding, student motivation, and teacher motivation. Earth science teachers collaborated on instructional strategies that included student labs and subsequent formal reports. The materials that were evaluated by a collaborative team were then used to measure how collaboration impacts students and teachers in the classroom. A comparison of a unit that was taught without guidance from collaborative members was made with two units of instruction that implemented materials that were evaluated by a collaborative team. Pre and postunit assessments, concept interviews, and surveys were used to evaluate student understanding. Additional data was collected through teacher interviews and teacher journals to assess student motivation. My own level of motivation and that of my cohorts was evaluated through my journal and observations made by my administrator. Results indicated that student understanding and teacher motivation increased, while the results on student motivation were mixed. The data showed a large gain in student understanding as a result of collaboration on instruction, whereas the level of student motivation was deemed negligible. Teachers in the collaborative group were observed to have increased levels of motivation as a result of the group's collaborative efforts. The project was an enhancement of my own level of motivation as well.