Date of Award


Degree Name

Curriculum and Instruction


College of Education

Type of Degree


Document Type


First Advisor

Stan Maynard

Second Advisor

Robert Bickel

Third Advisor

Thelma Isaacs

Fourth Advisor

Paula Flaherty


The focus of this qualitative research study is the Professional Development School (PDS) partnership between a university and an elementary school in Central Appalachia. Data were collected through participant observation, individual and focus group interviews, and document analysis. The research focused on the participants’ experiences and perceptions of the Professional Development School and any enabling and/or constraining factors related to its effectiveness. Participants included school-based individuals ─ students, teachers, and administrators of Dolen Elementary (pseudonym) ─ as well as university-based participants. The most significant finding was a genuine willingness to learn that was exhibited by participants, both school-based and those based at the university. Additional findings were represented by three themes: enthusiasm, collaboration, and leadership. Enthusiasm was demonstrated by the students’ excitement in trying the Harless Center initiatives, the teachers’ eagerness and grassroots efforts to search out strategies to individualize instruction, and the Harless Center’s eagerness to make sure the project fit the needs of the school by conducting a needs assessment at the start of the partnership. Collaboration involved the blending of inside and outside (beyond the community) resources to enhance the PDS partnership. Leadership was exhibited by the school-based teachers as well as the encouraging, playful principal who was identified as the most important factor enabling the success of this partnership.


Laboratory schools -- Appalachian Region.