Date of Award

5-2015

Culminating Project Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Educational Administration and Leadership, K-12: Ed.D.

Department

Educational Administration and Higher Education

College

School of Education

First Advisor

John Eller

Second Advisor

Frances Kayona

Third Advisor

Roger Worner

Fourth Advisor

Kay Worner

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Abstract

This study examined a pilot Reciprocal Peer Review Program (RPRP) that was implemented for 1 year by a mid-size suburban school district in Minnesota. In the RPRP two teachers were paired up for the purpose of observing each other and “exchanging feedback in an alternating fashion” (Kohler, Ezell, & Paluselli, 1999, p. 154). The study reviewed the pilot program to determine teachers’ and administrator’s perceptions and concerns of the program. The study also sought to determine features of the pilot program that participants considered to be effective and worth keeping and features of the program that were considered not effective thus needed to be refined or discarded.

The study was designed to provide insights into the implementation of the Reciprocal Peer Review Program (RPRP) in a medium size suburban school district in Minnesota. The information provided by the study was used by the school district and teachers to determine whether or not there is merit in pursuing full implementation of the RPRP throughout the district with all teachers. The study provided specific commendation on features of the RPRP that were considered effective. Additionally, the study provided recommendations of features of the RPRP that were viewed negatively and required change. Although the study is limited to a single Minnesota school district, it is conceivable that other state school districts, also required to implement the new the new teacher evaluation statute that mandates peer review, will find value in the analysis of the design and implementation of a quality peer review program.

The researcher collected both qualitative and quantitative data from a select sample of 60 teachers who volunteered to participate in the RPRP and from three school district administrators who participated in designing and implementing the RPRP. Four instruments were used in the study data collection for the study: (1) Stages of Concern Questionnaires (SoCQ); (2) Perception Survey; (3) focus group interview with seven teachers; and (4) focus interview with three school administrators.

The quantitative data were electronically collected and analyzed. Focus group interviews were digitally audio-recorded, transcribed, and thematically.

The study found that teachers and administrators had general positive perceptions of the RPR program with the following features particularly reported as positive: opportunity to observe; opportunity to learn and collaborate with colleagues; the non-evaluative nature of the program, and the opportunity to study curriculum across content and grade levels. Also, teachers thought that the program helped improve instruction and reduce teacher isolation.

The results indicated that participants viewed the following as areas of concern: lack of clarity on goals and procedures; limited time; too much or confusing paperwork demands; poor substitute teacher system; and level of district and state commitment to funding the program.

Participants pointed out the following as recommendations for improving the program: improve the school culture around the importance of RPRP; provide more administrative support to teachers; provide more clarifications of goals and procedures; provide more training on RPRP; improve the teacher substitute system; and allow teachers to use the Professional Learning Community (PLC) time for peer review or consider paying teachers stipends for time spent working on the program outside contract hours.

Since the RPRP was viewed positively by both participating teachers and administrators as a tool for increasing teacher quality through observing, learning, and collaborating with their peers, educational leaders are encouraged to strengthen the program design by removing the frustrations related to teacher substitutes and, thereby, lessening the stresses teachers experience and reluctance they have in leaving their classrooms to conduct peer observation. Districts need to provide assurances to teachers that there is administrative support and a funding commitment for the program to achieve maximum success.

Comments/Acknowledgements

I would like to thank the following individuals at St. Cloud State University; Dr. Frances Kayona for believing in me for help with research instruments; Dr. Roger Worner and Dr. Kay Worner for your meticulous editing of my work; Dr. John Eller for help with design and shaping of my dissertation; Ann Anderson for helping me with my dissertation formatting; and Michele Braun for keeping on track with timelines and deadlines.

I would like to thank the teachers and school administrators who agreed to participate in the study. Special thanks to the school district HR Director and leader of the Peer Review program for making my study possible.

I would like to thank my entire doctoral cohort 3: Cathy, Charles, Curt, Dalton, Deron, Eralda, John, Karrie, Melissa, Shawn, and Tammy for supporting each other. Special thanks to Eralda for reading and editing my work.

I would like to thank following leaders in Minnesota who inspired me in my early years in the doctoral program and for granting me interviews on various topics of organizational leadership: Brad Hewitt, President and CEO of Thrivent Financial; James Stuart, Anoka County Sheriff; Bill Malkowiak, Director, Trade Marketing at General Mills; and John Harringon, MN State Senator.

I would like to thank my wife, Florence, for sacrificing and believing in me. My children; Kina, Lisa, Imani and Jessie for the unconditional love as I attempted to balance between working on my dissertation and spending time with you. Thank you for allowing me to occasionally exile myself to a hotel room or a cabin for days to read and write.

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