A Case Study of Collaborative Relationships Between Faculty and Student Affairs Professionals


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This presentation was given for the defense of my doctoral dissertation in Higher Education Administration at Bowling Green State University in Bowling Green, OH.

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  • Relationship happens when “two individuals create a set of shared experiences and understandings that are unique to them” (Schrage, 1995). Partnership and collaboration can be understood as types of relationships. Partnership is a formalized relationship (McKimm, Millard, & Held, 2008; Schrage, 1995). McKimm, Millard, and Held (2008) stated that partnership was a formalized “agreement between individuals or organizations to work together within the bounds of the agreement” (pp. 34-35). Collaboration is instead a purposive relationship (McKimm, et al., 2008; Schrage, 1995).Partnership describes an official working association wherein individuals benefit separately; collaboration describes a process of developing a common understanding to produce an outcome beneficial to the individuals separately and together. One term is about the structure, the other is about the process.
  • In considering a framework to study, I was especially interested in the relationships between the two partners in collaboration. Those who work in higher education may be more motivated by people than goals, management, or rewards (Birnbaum, 1988). Kezar (2005) created a model that demonstrated assessment, learning, and relationships were important to the process of collaboration. She found, however, that those in higher education were more likely to base collaboration on “well-developed relationships” (p. 856) than learning.
  • Will revisit the point of Student Affairs Professional & Faculty Member
  • Site = BGSU, BGSU 1000 – briefly explain
  • Points to note: Although only four pairs, a fairly broad range of characteristics
  • While my research questions guided the study, my participants did not talk about relationships and collaboration separately. Instead, there was a clearer distinction between the way relationships and collaboration developed and the way they functioned, so my findings are presented in that way. Prior Relationships: Two of the four pairs had prior relationships. Both these pairs believed that having a prior relationship benefited the development of their collaboration and relationship. Of the two other pairs, one believed that it influenced the development and one did not. Commonalties: All partners described that having commonalities influenced the development of their relationships and collaboration. Those commonalities that seemed most influential were common values, having a comon goal and having common background experiences and personality styles. Comfort and Trust: Both prior relationships and commonalities led to developing comfort and trust between partners. This comfort and trust helped participants develop relationship and further their collaboration.
  • In terms of how their relationships and collaboration functioned, there were three primary themes. Kinds: Participants said they their partnerships functioned in specific ways: collegially, as mentor-mentee, as family, and as friends. Roles: Roles were particularly interesting in this study. When I first set out to recruit participant pairs, I was seeking partnerships of one faculty member and one student affairs professional. As it turns out, not a single participant fit neatly into these roles. Those in the “instructor of record” – or faculty – role, were also administrators, or had backgrounds in student affairs, or were actually student affairs or academic affairs administrators with PhDs in the faculty position. Student Affairs instructors may have had backgrounds in academic affairs, or even said they identified more with faculty than with student affairs, or had PhDs and could be in the faculty role. While this may or may not have influenced the results (it IS possible that the results would have been the same), I believe there was likely an influence. So it is important to know this as we move forward in the discussion. So, participants described having “indistinct” roles. The faculty member may have discussed transitional issues or may have focused on applied knowledge, the student affairs professional may have taught the theme or content. All participants described these indistinct roles and all pairs but one said this benefited the functioning of their relationship and collaboration. Roles were also situational – in the day to day participants filled in where needed. It was also important for some participants to have equal power in their roles. Communication influenced how relationships and collaboration functioned. Most pairs had an initial discussion and then worked off of assumptions throughout the rest of their time together. And there was overlap and compartmentalization in discussion. Some pairs only talked about BGSU 1000 items in the classroom or in designated work times and their personal relationship outside of the classroom. For others they talked about their personal and professional relationship in both areas.
  • In considering the interplay between collaboration and relationship, participants discussed the importance of time. Participants noted that more time for their collaboration improved their relationship and more time with their relationship improved their collaboration. Simply put, relationships impacted collaboration and collaborations impacted relationshipsParticipants also described being able to do more together than they would have been able to do individually. Moreover, participants described improvements in their individual work based on their work together.
  • Of the four pairs studies, one pair had what they described as a difficult collaboration. In terms of the development of their collaboration and relationship, while most pairs discussed how having a prior relationship, or commonalities (including values, goals, and backgrounds/styles) and comfort/trust, this pair did not. In terms of fuctionality, time together did not improve their collaboration or relationship. They believed that not having a good collaboration affected their relationship and not having a good relationship affected their collaboration. Moreover, one of the participants in that pair suggested he would have been able to achieve more by himself than in partnership. Their case serves as a negative case study in many ways, in that what those characteristics that benefited the more successful collaboration were not existent in that collaboration.
  • A Case Study of Collaborative Relationships Between Faculty and Student Affairs Professionals

    1. 1.  Examine the collaborative relationships of faculty and student affairs professionals co- teaching to help students learn. Specific focus on › individuals in collaboration › how these relationships develop and function Those designing collaborative partnerships or in collaborative partnerships may use the results of the study to better their interactions to make the most of their experiences.
    2. 2. For partnerships promoting student learning between faculty and student affairs professionals: How did their relationships develop and function? How did their collaboration develop and function? What was the interplay between collaboration and relationship? What did they experience by being in this partnership? How did their collaboration affect student learning?
    3. 3.  Relationships › Research suggests that those in higher education are likely to base collaboration on relationships over other reasons. Vygotskian › The Vygotskian framework considers the individual by herself or himself, in interaction with another person, and in interaction with history and culture and how all these factors work together. › The process of relationships is important in the Vygotskian framework, not just the effects of collaboration. › A Vygotskian framework demonstrates that individuals in collaboration behave differently than individuals working alone. Their interaction in and of itself—the relationship—is of vital importance.
    4. 4.  Constructivist Collective Case Study Two Levels: Site & Participant Pairs Criteria: › Both Site (S) & Participant Pairs (PP) Focused on Student Learning › Both S & PP Collaborative › PP = Student Affairs Prof. & Faculty Member Three Semi-Structured Interviews: 1 Individual, 1 pair, 1 individual
    5. 5.  Constructivist Collective Case Study Two Levels: Site & Participant Pairs Criteria: › Both Site (S) & Participant Pairs (PP) Focused on Student Learning › Both S & PP Collaborative › PP = Student Affairs Prof. & Faculty Member Three Semi-Structured Interviews: 1 Individual, 1 pair, 1 individual
    6. 6. Demographic Participant Information Category NumberAge 30 years old – 39 years old 3 40 years old – 49 years old 2 50 years old – 59 years old 2 60 years old – 69 years old 1Gender Male 3 Female 5Race/Ethnicity White/Caucasian 4 European American 1 African American 3Prior Experience Teaching BGSU 1000 Yes 3 No 5Years teaching/working at BGSU 1 year – 9 years 4 10 years – 19 years 3 20 years – 29 years 1Years teaching/working in higher 1 year – 9 years 3education 10 years – 19 years 1 20 years – 29 years 2 30 years – 39 years 2
    7. 7. Prior RelationshipsCommonalities Values Goals Background •Collaboration •Making Intentional connections Experiences and •Relationships •Course Content Personality Styles •Their Partner •Working With Students •Student Affairs •Student learning •IntentionalityComfort & Trust
    8. 8. • Colleagues Kinds of • Mentor-Mentee Relationships • Family • Friends • Indistinct Roles Roles • Situational Roles • Equality in Roles • Assumptions and DiscussionsCommunication • Overlap and Compartmentalization
    9. 9. Relationships impact collaboration andTime collaboration impacts relationships Do more together
    10. 10. The Exception
    11. 11.  Intentionality in building relationships and collaboration Foster discussion in collaborations Make common goals clear Roles may or may not be important Adds to documentation about collaboration
    12. 12.  Other kinds of collaborative relationships between faculty and student affairs professionals More clearly defined instructor roles A follow-up examination Vygotskian theory, co-teaching literature, and other relevant educational research
    13. 13.  Prior relationships, commonalities (in values, goals, background experiences, and personality styles), developing comfort and trust, were important to good collaboration Roles are influential, though not necessarily in expected ways Effective collaboration needs intentionality and support Relationships impact collaboration and collaboration impacts relationships