First Advisor

Thomas Chenoweth

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) in Educational Leadership: Administration


Educational Leadership and Policy




Teaching teams, Interdisciplinary approach in education, Middle schools -- Oregon



Physical Description

3, viii, 312 leaves 28 cm.


Middle school literature advocates interdisciplinary team organization as a structure that enhances student learning and teacher satisfaction. In an interdisciplinary team, teachers responsible for different content areas collaboratively plan the instructional program for a shared group of students. Yet, fewer than fifty percent of the nation's middle schools use an interdisciplinary team structure, and research indicates that teams are fragile and temporary. Few studies were found that described interdisciplinary team organization at the team or individual teacher level.

The purpose of this case study is to describe the structure, dynamics, and outcomes of interdisciplinary teams of teachers in middle schools. The collection, analysis, and evaluation of data focused on four areas: (a) team structure including goals, roles, and leadership; (b) team dynamics ("teamness"), including collaboration, cohesion, and communication; (C) teacher affective outcomes of satisfaction, efficacy, and stress; and (d) teacher behavioral outcomes of curriculum and instruction and counseling and discipline.

The researcher collected data from five sources of evidence including documents, structured interviews, key informant interviews, direct observation, and questionnaires. Two middle schools that were implementing interdisciplinary team organization for the first year were selected for the study. Their differences in demographics, teaming structure, and district/school history allowed for a basis of comparison and contrast. The data were organized and presented in four case studies of interdisciplinary teams and two cross-case analyses, providing a descriptive account of the experiences of teachers involved in an interdisciplinary team structure. The results of the study indicated that:

  1. Structural variables affected team planning.
  2. The level of teacher collaboration on teams was a developmental process.
  3. Teachers derived professional benefits and personal satisfaction from teaming and experienced a reduction of stress.
  4. Barriers of time and training impeded team effectiveness in the area of developing and implementing interdisciplinary curriculum.

Further research on effective team practices is warranted, particularly on the effects of group process training and the developmental nature of team collaboration. In addition, further research is recommended on the effects of an interdisciplinary team structure on student learning outcomes and on teachers' day-to-day instructional practices in the classroom.


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