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Analyzing Cultural Processes in Higher Education: STEM and Education Faculty Collaboration in Teacher Education

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"The lack of coordination between STEM and education faculty in teacher preparation is viewed as a crucial breakdown in the system of teacher education. This paper describes findings from a qualitative case study of one Institution of Higher Education (IHE) participating in System-wide Change for All Learners and Educators (SCALE), an NSF-funded Math & Science Partnership project. This research is an embedded case study of a comprehensive university on the West Coast, which employed a grounded theory approach to analyzing interview (N=41) and document data, a framework for Educational Culture Process Analysis, and causal network analysis. At this IHE, bifurcated state regulations and IHE programs governing teacher preparation, differences between STEM and education faculty's ownership of teacher preparation, and strained relations characterized by stereotypes, interacted to create an institutional context that was generally unfavorable. In this context, SCALE created five new opportunities for STEM and education faculty to interact, including a series of professional development workshops led by an education faculty who deftly negotiated STEM faculty concerns that they would be "told how to teach" and given tools that were poorly suited to their courses. Through these interactions SCALE was successful in fostering a nascent "community of practice" of STEM and education faculty, influencing some STEM faculty's pedagogical practices and their perspectives regarding the value of pedagogy and educational research, and changing some structural elements of the teacher preparation program. However, SCALE was unable to influence several factors that invariably shape individual practice and group meaning systems, and continued opportunities for interaction into the future will be needed for this emerging network to become a factor that effectively fosters long-term institutional change."