Computer-Mediated Collaboration to Reduce Isolation for Rural Teachers
Rural secondary content area teachers have little opportunity to discuss issues with similar content area teachers. Professional isolation can impact teacher satisfaction and ultimately affect rural student achievement. The purpose of this study was to investigate computer-mediated collaboration as a means of reducing isolation for rural teachers. This study has its theoretical foundation in social constructivism and social learning theory. The quantitative research question investigated relationship between rural K-12 teacher isolation and participation in a computer-mediated collaborative environment. The qualitative research questions examined factors influencing voluntary participation and reduction in perceived content isolation by rural teachers of kindergarten through twelfth grade. This concurrent mixed method study, prioritizing qualitative data, integrated correlational data collected by a survey and qualitative data from interviews. Quantitative data were analyzed with point-biserial and Spearman correlation coefficients. Qualitative data were coded and analyzed for reoccurring themes. Analysis of quantitative data showed no relationship between teacher isolation and participation in a computer-mediated collaborative environment. Analysis of qualitative data found face-to-face meetings important by facilitating professional and social relationships between geographically isolated teachers. Findings from this study may help administrators and professional development planners develop collaborative interactions for rural content teachers within districts and across regions. This study could contribute to positive social change by increasing rural teachers’ sense of professional community and increasing achievement for students they serve.
0533: Secondary education
0710: Educational technology