Expecting too much from collaborative projects: Revealing false assumptions

Year: 2001

Author: Peters, Judy

Type of paper: Refereed paper

In the past ten years the author has worked as a university participant in a number of collaborative projects between schools and universities that were expected to result in educational improvement. These include the Innovative Links Project (1994-1996), the National Middle Schooling Authentic Assessment Research Circle (1997), the School-based Research and Reform Project (1998 - 2000) and the Learning to Learn Project (1999 - 2001). Each of these projects had a range of expectations of school and university participants in regard to their roles, relationships, activities and outcomes. In all cases, some expectations proved difficult or impossible to meet in practice.

This paper reports some of the findings of research into the perceptions of school and university participants in the Innovative Links Project, and draws on the author’s experiences in the others, to show that some project expectations were based on a number of false assumptions about the personal, structural and cultural conditions that impact on participants' professional lives. It argues that it is this disparity between the actual conditions and the assumed conditions that makes it so difficult for participants to meet some of the expectations of collaborative endeavours. The paper concludes by posing a series of questions that could be used when planning collaborative projects to more closely align expectations with the realities of participants' professional lives.