Date of Award


Document type


Access Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Program

School Psychology

First Advisor

Rebecca Gajda

Second Advisor

John M. Hintze

Third Advisor

Lisa M. Wexler

Subject Categories



The current case study evaluates a program of professional development aimed at engaging two groups of elementary teachers in communities of practice (CoPs) focused on improving teachers' vocabulary instruction and students' vocabulary learning. The professional development program took place over five months in the 2008-2009 school year. The purpose of the evaluation was to evaluate the merit and worth of the professional development program and identify changes that could be implemented by the primary evaluator in future efforts to develop and refine an effective method for teaching teachers about vocabulary instruction. An explanatory case study design was used to achieve a deep understanding of the program using both quantitative and qualitative data analyses. The evaluation measured aspects of collaborative practices engaged in by teachers over the course of the program, as well as teachers' instructional practices and students' leanring before and after program implementation. Evaluation questions were designed to explore the theory that teacher collaboration leads to increases in teacher knowledge and skills, which in turn lead to increases in teachers' classroom use of new knowledge and skills, which ultimately lead to increases in student achievement. Overall, the evaluation was successful in that it was able to clearly describe the collaborative practices engaged in by teachers, provide evidence of teacher and student learning, and provide extensive insights into changes and improvements that were then implemented in an extension to the CoP in the same district during the subsequent school year. Additionally, the evaluation uncovered key variables that may act to impede teacher collaboration.


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