Language, Literacy, and Sociocultural Studies ETDs

Publication Date



While the collaborative practices of classroom teachers, teacher educators and preservice teachers have been well documented, less is known about the collaborative experiences of graduate students. The purpose of this qualitative study was to (a) describe and systematically analyze the collaborative and shared experiences of four graduate students who worked together for two and one-half years as part of a technology professional development project, (b) describe, through the voice of the graduate students, learning experiences that ran parallel to their formal doctoral education, and (c) demonstrate ways to link practitioner research and critical incidents. Through the study, I explored aspects of four graduate students relational practices, and the mutuality that was fostered through the sustained interactions with each other and through their work with project faculty and administrators. Data collection included (a) focus group interviews, (b) individual interviews, (c) personal correspondence, and (d) project data and artifacts. The findings reveal that the graduate students' relational practices comprised a series of physical/environmental and relational tools, which enabled them to shape a set of relational beliefs and values and create a structure of professional intimacy. This level of professional intimacy in turn created a structure and support that enabled the graduate students to access a parallel curriculum of graduate school. Further, the systematic analysis and rendering of two critical incidents reveal the nuances, complexities, and boundaries of the graduate students' relationships working with the project's administrators, teacher education faculty and each other. The analysis also illuminated how the graduate students individually and collectively negotiated aspects of identity, mutuality, positionality, institutional hierarchy, and power. Combined, the findings indicate possibilities within graduate education related to (a) relational practices, (b) collaboration, and (c) mentoring. The findings also demonstrate the inherent potential of blending practitioner research and critical incidents, specifically, how the collective analysis of a critical incident in a focus group setting provided a framework through which the participants could collectively describe and analyze the complexities, perspectives and multiple layers of meaning present in their graduate school experiences.'


Graduate education--Social aspects--Case studies, Graduate students--Psychology, Universities and colleges--Graduate work--Case studies

Document Type




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Level of Degree


Department Name

Language, Literacy, and Sociocultural Studies

First Committee Member (Chair)

Noll, Elizabeth

Second Committee Member

Craig, Cheryl