Understanding the Impact of a State-wide Reading Consortium on Literacy Teacher Educators
Secondary and Middle Grades Education
Research on the impact of professional development and mentoring in the activities of K-12 classroom teachers and their positive effects has been widely documented (Borko, Davinroy, Bliem, & Cumbo, 2000; Broaddus & Bloodgood, 1999; Lyons, 1991; Richardson, 1999). However, comparatively little is known about the effect of professional development and mentoring on the lives of teacher educators. This study examines the impact of professional networks that include mentoring activities in higher education. Since the late 1990's, teacher educators from institutions across a southeastern state have participated in a state-funded reading consortium designed to improve the literacy performance of P-12 students. In an effort to better understand the impact of this network, this qualitative inquiry explored the development of this consortium and the impact of involvement in this state-wide reading consortium on literacy teacher educators. Primary data sources focused on indepth interviews with members involved in the reading consortium for two or more years. Secondary data sources included (a) interviews with informants from various state agencies who had worked directly with the consortium, (b) course syllabi, and (c) consortium minutes, accountability documents and publicity documents. Constant comparative analysis of the data and follow up member checks revealed the nature of the collaborative network which emerged within this consortium and the ways in which this collaboration intensified over time and impacted both state initiatives and teacher educators. Specific positive impacts were apparent with respect to teacher education and professional development and with regard to the reshaping of literacy teacher-educators professional lives as educators and researchers. Finally, the findings underscore the importance of support, through collegial and mentoring relationships as well as through state funding on professional development of the research and teaching lives of literacy teacher educators.
Reading Research and Instruction