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What Experience Has Taught Us About Collaboration

Abstract

"This document is intended as a primer on collaborative work. It reflects the cumulative knowledge of the 10 members of the federally mandated Eisenhower Regional Mathematics and Science Education Consortia Program, for whom these lessons are lived experiences. ...From the current joint NSF/ED Mathematics and Science Partnerships initiative to the future Comprehensive Assistance Centers, a new generation of programs is about to emerge for whom collaborative work must become a way of life. These programs can shorten their learning curve and boost their effectiveness by drawing on the understandings of those who came before them.

This report explores the process by which the consortia have developed from new projects of unknown value into effective facilitators of school improvement. The report begins with a brief look at the ways in which collaboration is characterized in the literature and in the consortia's work. It then moves to a discussion of strategies and steps for building effective collaborative relationships. Finally, the report explores several "deep structure" issues (Crowson & Boyd, 1996) that present the most challenging and deeply resistant barriers to collaborative work."

Note: This publication is the first of a planned series of four. The remaining topics are professional development, intensive services, and dissemination. The purpose of the Eisenhower Regional Consortia program is to help improve the nation's mathematics and science education through the provision of a multitude of services, including technology, curriculum and instructional resources, professional development, dissemination, and forums for communication.

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