eCite Digital Repository

Greater than the sum of its parts: The formation of a school/university research team


Baguley, M and Campbell, J and Cruickshank, V and Daunt, J and Kerby, M and Mann, R and Monk, S and MacDonald, A and McDonald, S and Riordan, T and Santoli, S and Vitulli, P and Webster, N, Greater than the sum of its parts: The formation of a school/university research team, The Role of Participants in Education Research: Ethics, epistemologies and methods, Routledge, W Midgley, PA Danaher & M Baguley (ed), New York, pp. 193-207. ISBN 978-0-415-63628-5 (2013) [Research Book Chapter]

Copyright Statement

Copyright 2013 Taylor and Francis

Official URL:


The formation of a school/university research team (SURT) in late 2010, based in Brisbane, Australia, but drawing its members from as far away as the continental United States, originated in personal and inevitably professional relationships. The team had its genesis in the research aspirations of a pre-existing research partnership between a senior lecturer in education at a regional university and the head of information services at a large Christian Brothers’ boarding school. Under their auspices an invitation was extended to 11 educators working at two schools and three universities. Each was linked to one or both of the pre-existing research partners by a professional relationship that had evolved into a friendship of varying longevity and intimacy. Shortly after the formation of the team and the adoption of the acronym SURT as a clear ideological commitment to crossinstitutional collaboration, two further educators sought membership. One was the spouse of a foundation member of SURT and the other a work colleague who had overheard a discussion about the impending enrollment of fi ve members of the team in a master’s of education program. The team was, therefore, from its conception made up of a rather eclectic group of members, interested in researching their fi eld and bound by friendships that cut across gender, age, and hierarchical divides.

SURT is comprised of nine women and four men. Seven of the members are aged in their forties, one is in her or his thirties, and fi ve are in their twenties. In terms of employment, fi ve members are academics in university settings, eight are secondary teachers in schools with four in positions of added responsibility, and one is employed in the area of promotions. Four of the members already have their doctorates, with one currently enrolled in a doctoral research program. Two of the group have coursework master’s qualifi cations, and six others are either enrolled or planning to enroll in a master’s program. The members of SURT are drawn from various educational institutions, including three from regional Australian universities—the University of Tasmania and the University of Southern Queensland—and two international academics from the University of South Alabama. Eight of the members work in two all boys’ private schools in Brisbane based on the Edmund Rice tradition: St. Joseph’s Nudgee College and St. Laurence’s College. Prior relationships among the members and an interest in forging and strengthening school/ university links have been the catalyst for the formation of SURT.

Invitations were extended to prospective group members either personally or by email, depending on geographical location. The extent to which prior relationships shaped both the approach to, and the subsequent response of, the invitees was evident in the fact that, far from declining the opportunity or off ering a lukewarm response, all of the participants were eff usive and enthusiastic. This ensured that generating interest and enthusiasm was not an issue that intruded on the preliminary discussions, a situation that emphasized the potential benefi ts of positive prior relationships. Most of the decision-making process was instead underpinned by a mutual desire to work within a collaborative framework and the challenge to articulate a vision and off er opportunities commensurate with the ambitions and enthusiasm of the participants. This was consistent with the research of theorists such as Lieberman and McLaughlin (1992), who noted that, "contrary to cynical generalisations about teachers’ lack of enthusiasm for staff development eff orts, teachers are willing and eager to be involved in activities that challenge them and that promote their professional growth" (n.p.). As will become clear in the participants’ accounts, far from resisting opportunities hitherto grouped under the umbrella of professional development, the participants’ level of enthusiasm was, at least in part, motivated by a general dissatisfaction with both the quantity and the quality of such opportunities. This is particularly true for the school-based educators, who often do not enjoy the same degree of academic freedom and institutional support as their university-based colleagues.

Item Details

Item Type:Research Book Chapter
Research Division:Education
Research Group:Education systems
Research Field:Teacher education and professional development of educators
Objective Division:Education and Training
Objective Group:Teaching and curriculum
Objective Field:Teacher and instructor development
UTAS Author:Cruickshank, V (Dr Vaughan Cruickshank)
UTAS Author:MacDonald, A (Dr Abbey MacDonald)
ID Code:82878
Year Published:2013
Deposited By:Education
Deposited On:2013-02-20
Last Modified:2017-12-14

Repository Staff Only: item control page