This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

Internal Learning Partnerships: A Study of Collaboration in a High-Performing Rural School




Felton, Hope

Type of Degree

PhD Dissertation


Education Foundation, Leadership, and Technology


Over the past decades, schools’ academic success has been a major focus in the Department of Education beginning with the No Child Left Behind Act (2001) up to the current education reform, Every Student Succeeds Act (2015). The prominent factor in the establishment of the schools’ academic success is collaboration. Collaboration is the ability to work together to reach and achieve a common goal. Collaboration has become a vital factor in education as have the establishment of internal and external learning partnerships. Learning partnerships are becoming more prominent in schools today. Internal learning partnerships are partnerships developed and established within an organization (Fullan, 2000). The participants build respectable relationships and trust, identify common goals, and develop and implement learning plans that are beneficial for the organization. This mixed-method case study was conducted to examine the levels of collaboration and internal learning partnerships within a high-performing rural intermediate school. This study focused on a partnership model by Reames and Kochan (2021) by viewing the key components of the model (relational factors, operational processes, and organizational structures). The purpose was to identify the extent of collaboration and internal partnerships through interviews and by analyzing network ties among the individuals within the school. This study was conducted within one rural high-performing school within one school semester during a worldwide COVID-19 pandemic. Data were collected through electronic surveys and video-chat interviews. Surveys were emailed to all teachers and administrators although responses were not received by all. Out of thirty-one individuals within the network, sixteen responded to the survey. In this school, each grade level was identified as a community. The results of this study revealed that collaborative ties were strong throughout the entire network, especially in designated communities. Internal partnerships existed through various committees, departments, and celebrations. The key central actors in this study were the principal and counselor, which was a unique aspect. Furthermore, the findings supported the Reames and Kochan (2021) partnership model by identifying positive and effective characteristics under each component of the model.