Interprofessional Collaboration on School Teams

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Stern, Evelyn
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Mount Saint Vincent University
Teams that help develop programs and supports for children with exceptional educational needs are required in some school boards in Canada and most school boards in the U.S (Andrews & Lupart, 2000; Truscott, Cohen, Sams, Sanborn, & Frank, 2005). Program Planning teams - or Prereferral Intervention Teams - often require a high degree of cooperation among people who may have very different training and perspectives (Hall, 2005; Jantsch, 1972). There is very little research on interprofessional collaboration on school teams and most of the research is out-dated (Margison & Shore, 2009). On school teams and teams in healthcare, the following have been found to influence the outcomes of interprofessional collaboration: communication, roles, status, attitude towards collaboration, and professionals’ paradigms (Choi & Pak, 2007; Mostert, 1996). We need a better understanding of the influences on collaboration on school teams. The purpose of this thesis is to explore team members’ perceptions of how they work together on interprofessional school teams, as well as their perceptions of barriers and facilitators to interprofessional collaboration. Thirteen members of Program Planning Teams (PPTs) in a rural Nova Scotia school board participated in this study. Participants were: two principals, two vice principals, two classroom teachers, three resource teachers, two school psychologists, and two speech-language pathologists. Qualitative methodology was used for the research design and each participant completed a semi-structured interview. Grounded theory methods were used to analyze the data. Three themes emerged from the data. These were: taking on the role of ‘team member,’ creating shared knowledge, and making decisions using shared knowledge. The core concept identified was ‘transposing,’ a process by which team members transferred and adapted their roles and knowledge held in the school to establish roles and knowledge within the team. Taking on a team member role was influenced by one’s attitude towards collaboration. Creating shared knowledge was influenced by openness/reflectivity, the presence of a common goal, and communication. When creating shared knowledge, differences in professional perspective or paradigm created challenges. Decision-making using shared knowledge was influenced by factors including: the composition of the team, role clarity, and workload. Together, these three themes provide a way of conceptualizing how professionals worked together on the PPTs under study.
Special education , Special education (evaluation) , Individualized education programs , Children with disabilities , Interprofessional relations