Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)


Educational Administration and Leadership

First Advisor

Rachelle Kisst Hackett

First Committee Member

Dennis Parker

Second Committee Member

Heidi Stevenson

Third Committee Member

Sylvia Turner


Teachers are a focal point in rural communities, building educational and cultural connections between the families and schools they serve on a daily basis. At the same time, geography and other constraints can impact rural teachers’ access to professional development and other resources. This mixed methods exploratory study focuses on a two-year professional learning program that supported rural teachers’ (n=38) professional growth in mathematics and encouraged the development of a collaborative Community of Practice spanning 14 elementary school sites in four Northern California counties.

Research methods incorporated a secondary data analysis, as well as the collection of new data. Quantitative data collection included a survey derived from the Teacher Collaboration Assessment Rubric (TCAR; Gajda & Koliba, 2008) which yields scores regarding dialogue, decision-making, action, and evaluation. Hierarchical linear regression analyses were conducted to evaluate possible associations between participants’ perceptions about collaboration opportunities offered through the two-year professional learning program, and teachers’ self-reported and observed classroom practice and their role as mathematics leaders. In addition, independent-samples t-test analysis was conducted to address possible variation in perceptions about program collaboration among participants who did versus did not opt to complete additional hours of professional learning.

Quantitative results suggest that, as structured opportunities for decision-making and for reflective evaluation increases between program participants, lower quality mathematics instructional practice may be self-reported. It is possible that teachers initially overestimated or later changed their understanding of what constitutes quality instruction, given that initial levels were controlled in the analyses. Also, the survey results suggest that the more teachers report that collaboration occurs by reflective evaluation, the higher number of colleagues at their school site they self-report to be viewed by as a mathematics education leader, controlling for the initial level reported two years prior.

Qualitative data gathered during follow up interviews revealed that teacher participants valued the shared experience of collaborating with peers from other rural schools. Participants appreciated dialogue and problem-solving opportunities offered through engaging, rigorous math tasks and attributed this work to a building of confidence and efficacy in the classroom.

Limitations of the study, implications, and suggestions for further research are discussed.





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