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This paper has three objectives: (1) to examine culture as it applies to school-university partnerships; (2) to provide an experimental literature-based tool for assessing the readiness of potential or existing school-university partners to engage in a collaborative venture; and (3) to model the application of this tool using data from a qualitative study of an existing school-university partnership between a large Midwestern university and a small, rural Midwestern school district. An extensive literature review discusses the role of cultural differences in school-university partnerships; describes four cultural dimensions (professional focus, work tempo, rewards, and sense of personal control and efficacy); and discusses the SPIR Model (Stakes, Power, Interest interdependence, Readiness for trust), which was developed as a tool for assessing the negotiations between two parties beginning or continuing a partnership. Finally, the paper reports on a case study of the adaptation of the SPIR model in a partnership designed to assist in exploring perspectives of partnership participants at the elementary and secondary levels in assessing a three-year old partnership with a large university. In particular, the study looked at: what makes a good school district/university partnership; whether the partnership was working; what helped and what hindered the partnership; what personal and institutional benefits resulted from the partnership; and what other partners could provide. Interviews with elementary and secondary faculty members revealed that SPIR values for the elementary school culture and the secondary school culture differed a good deal. It appeared at the end of the third year that the secondary faculty had yet to move beyond the anxiety and frustration of the initial phase, while the elementary faculty was somewhere between the second and third stages where frustration is beginning to lessen, relationships are beginning to develop with members of the other culture, and confidence is increasing. (Contains 29 references.) (ND)

Descriptors: Case Studies, College School Cooperation, Cultural Awareness, Cultural Differences, Educational Assessment, Educational Environment, Educational Improvement, Elementary School Teachers, Elementary Secondary Education, Evaluation Methods, Higher Education, Literature Reviews, Models, Partnerships in Education, Program Evaluation, School Culture, Secondary School Teachers, Student Teachers, Teacher Education Programs, Theory Practice Relationship

Autor: Selke, Mary J.


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