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A Theoretical and Empirical Investigation of Teacher Collaboration for School Improvement and Student Achievement in Public Elementary Schools

by Yvonne L. Goddard, Roger D. Goddard & Megan Tschannen-Moran - 2007


A review of the literature demonstrates that schools are frequently called upon to improve by developing high levels of teacher collaboration. At the same time, there is a paucity of research investigating the extent to which teachersí collaborative school improvement practices are related to student achievement.

Purpose/Objective/Research Question/Focus of Study:

The purpose of this study was to review the literature and empirically test the relationship between a theoretically driven measure of teacher collaboration for school improvement and student achievement.


The data for this study were drawn from students and teachers in a large urban school district located in the midwestern United States.


The population for this study came from the elementary schools in one large midwestern school district. Survey data were drawn from a sample of 47 elementary schools with 452 teachers and 2,536 fourth-grade students.

Research Design:

Hierarchical linear modeling (HLM) was the primary analytic method. Survey data were colleted approximately 2 months before students took the mandatory state assessments, which provided the scale scores that served as dependent variables in this research. HLM accounted for the nested nature of the data (students nested in schools).

This was a naturalistic study that employed secondary data analysis. There was no intervention, treatment, or randomization. Naturally occurring differences in teachersí levels of collaboration were measured, and statistical controls for school social context were employed. At the student level, the study employed controls for childrenís social and academic backgrounds.

Data Collection and Analysis:

Data were obtained from teachers and students in the sampled schools. Teacher data were obtained via a survey assessing teacher collaboration. Student data were obtained from the central administrative office of the school district for all students who attended sampled schools during the year in which we surveyed teachers.


Results of HLM analyses indicate that fourth-grade students have higher achievement in mathematics and reading when they attend schools characterized by higher levels of teacher collaboration for school improvement.


The authors suggest that the results provide preliminary support for efforts to improve student achievement by providing teachers with opportunities to collaborate on issues related to curriculum, instruction, and professional development. The authors also discuss the need for more research on the effects of different types of collaborative practices using more representative samples.

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Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 109 Number 4, 2007, p. 877-896
https://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 12871, Date Accessed: 7/23/2021 12:24:50 PM

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About the Author
  • Yvonne Goddard
    University of Michigan
    E-mail Author
    YVONNE L. GODDARD is an assistant professor and research scientist at the University of Michigan School of Education. Her research interests include teacher collaboration and effective strategies for teaching reading and writing skills to learners with special needs. Her work has been published in Remedial and Special Education, Teaching and Teacher Education, Journal of Behavioral Education, and Teaching Exceptional Children.
  • Roger Goddard
    University of Michigan
    E-mail Author
    ROGER D. GODDARD is an associate professor of educational administration and policy at the University of Michigan School of Education. Grounded in social psychology, much of his research is concerned with organizational characteristics and teacher practices that enhance student learning and reduce achievement gaps. His most recent work examines the importance of teachers' collective efficacy beliefs to student achievement in elementary and secondary schools. These papers were published in Educational Policy and Educational Researcher in 2004.
  • Megan Tschannen-Moran
    College of William and Mary
    E-mail Author
    MEGAN TSCHANNEN-MORAN teaches educational leadership at the College of William and Mary. Her research interests center on the social psychology of schools and how the quality of interpersonal relationships impacts the outcomes a school can achieve. Dr. Tschannen-Moran has examined the relationships between trust, collaboration, organizational citizenship, conflict, and school climate. Another line of inquiry focuses on the self-efficacy beliefs of teachers and principals and the collective efficacy beliefs within a school. Her work has appeared in the Journal of Educational Administration, Teachers College Record, and Leadership and Policy in Schools. Her recent book Trust Matters: Leadership for Successful Schools (2004, Jossey-Bass) reports the experiences of three principals and the consequences of their successes and failures in building trust.
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