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This dissertation is an inquiry into what happens when classroom teachers in public schools study and adopt one or more of the cooperative learning models of David and Roger Johnson, Spencer Kagan, and/or Robert Slavin and shift the emphasis of their classrooms from competitive and individualistic to cooperative structures. Method: A representative sample of eighteen kindergarten through twelfth grade public school teachers from the suburbs of Boston were asked to relate their experiences with training and implementation of these cooperative models. The goal of this research was to explore both the common and unique experiences of these teachers and to discover whether they experienced significant shifts in their personal philosophies of teaching, teaching practices, and interactions with others in the school community. In these interviews, teachers who were trained in cooperative paradigms told the story of their training, implementation, experiences with others in their school community, and personal reflections. The inquiry was set in the context of school reform movements that explore the ways in which individuals make meaning from both professional and life experiences. Results: The interviews were analyzed using HyperResearch, a qualitative research computer program. A framework for analysis of the interviews in this study was derived from the literatures of the study of cooperative, competitive, and individualistic paradigms; professional development; and school reform. The teachers in the study were found to be undergoing paradigm shifts on a continuum of change. Training, time, and support from their educational community were factors that appeared to influence the most dramatic shifts in their practice and points of view. Conclusions: Teachers interpret training they receive in cooperative learning programs in ways that are specifically related to their own professional development and their teaching environments. Yet, they experience some common difficulties and successes. Since the adoption of cooperative learning models ultimately influences teachers' cognitive development and necessitates a paradigm shift from competitive and individual structures to cooperative ones, this process is dependent on a long period of commitment and sustained practice. The support teachers receive from their school community and peers facilitates or impedes their implementation and utilization of cooperative paradigms. The larger school and societal context ultimately determines the influence cooperative classrooms will have on students and teachers alike.



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