Assessing collaborative interactions in a teacher professional community: The validity and reliability of a survey instrument

Date of Completion

January 2004


Education, Administration|Education, Educational Psychology




The purpose of this study was to develop and validate an instrument that assesses collaborative interactions within a professional community of teachers. The literature focusing upon collaborative teacher communities has identified teacher relationships as a key ingredient within these communities (Bulach, 2001; Bulach & Malone, 1994; Darling-Hammond, 1997; Fullan, 1998; Irwin, 1996; Sergiovanni & Starrat, 1998). These relationships can be classified into three categories of teacher-teacher interactions: (a) interactions which build community, (b) interactions which increase one's sense of professional competence, and (c) interactions which support one's individual autonomy (Grossman, Wineburg & Woolworth, 2001; Irwin & Farr, in press; Johnson, 1990; Little, 1982; Rosenholtz, 1989; Westheimer, 1999). ^ Using this conceptual framework, the School Community Survey (SCS) was developed to assess collaborative interactions within a professional community of teachers. The SCS was field-tested by 318 teachers across twelve schools in an urban school district in Connecticut. The results of the quantitative analyses regarding construct validity included statistical support for Connection and Support, Individual Autonomy, and Instructional Focus as the underlying constructs of collaborative teacher interactions; as well as a statistically significant difference between known groups. Qualitative data further supported the validity of teacher relationships as a factor in a collaborative community. Intercorrelations among the scores on the subscales were all statistically significant (p = .01) indicating that the constructs of collaborative teacher interactions are interrelated. A one-way ANOVA on the variance among schools was statistically significant, p = .000. The alpha reliability co-efficient for the total instrument was .95 and ranged from .83 to .94 for the five subscales. Within a short period of time of about four weeks, the SCS was found to have high stability reliability based on a paired samples t-test, p < .05. Thus, the results of the field test of the School Community Survey indicated that it is a sufficiently valid and reliable instrument for assessing collaborative interactions within a professional community of teachers. ^