By Cassandra McCallum

The School of Education invites you to attend an Ed.D. Dissertation Defense by Therese Sterling on “A Qualitative Diagnosis of Factors Helping or Hindering Teacher Engagement in a High School Collaboration Team.”

Date: March 30, 2023
Time: 4 p.m.
Location: This will be a virtual dissertation defense via Zoom. Those interested in attending should contact rochelle_herring@uml.edu to request access to the Zoom link.

Dissertation Chair: Rochelle Herring, Ed.D., Visiting Assistant Professor, School of Education, University of Massachusetts Lowell

Dissertation Committee:

  • Jack Schneider, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, School of Education, University of Massachusetts Lowell
  • Samantha McGuance, Ed.D., Scholar in Practice, School of Education, Data Analysis and Accountability Coordinator, Montachusett Regional Vocational Technical School


Effective and engaging teacher collaboration contributes to continuous school improvement and overall student success. This quality improvement initiative aimed to diagnose the problem with uneven engagement during teacher collaboration in a high school by examining the factors that help or hinder teacher engagement in two collaboration groups. The educational context of this quality improvement initiative is a high school where collaboration time was mandated as a means of meeting new accreditation performance standards. This qualitative diagnosis used interviews and journal prompts to gain the perspective of seven teachers participating in teacher collaboration and was driven by the research question: From the perspectives of teachers participating in two collaboration groups at Mapleberry High School, what factors help or hinder teacher engagement during teacher collaboration?

The key conceptual framework for this initiative is based on design thinking and engagement. The first two phases of design thinking–empathize and define–were used to better understand the factors helping and hindering engagement during teacher collaboration. The results of the qualitative diagnosis contribute to this field of research by supporting the existing research that mutual trust and collective efficacy help teacher engagement during collaboration, and lack of clear direction, support, and a weak collaborative culture hinder teacher engagement during collaboration. The findings also expanded upon the existing literature by revealing other factors that help or hinder teacher engagement during collaboration. Recommendations such as using protocols and providing more training and support from the district will create a more supportive and collaborative culture for teacher collaboration where more teachers are engaged in the process.