- Using co-design to support the creation of a high school as a learning organisation
- Tutor: MA Merike Rehepapp
- Master Thesis
The aim of this thesis is to determine the methods, techniques and tools for promoting and developing collaboration between teachers in a new high school, with a focus on Merike Rehepapp’s collaboration model tool. The thesis strives to answer two research questions: how does the collaboration model support the creation of a learning organisation in the new high school; and how can the collaboration model be implemented within a professional learning community.
The essence and methods of design are explored as part of Tallinn University and Estonian Academy of Art’s joint master’s curriculum, which sets knowledge about contemporary design as one of the curriculum’s educational aims. This thesis is an example of how contemporary design methods can be used in education.
The author of the thesis had a trifold role while compiling this thesis: working as the head of the new school applying the collaboration model; studying for his art teacher master’s degree; and from spring 2020, contributing to the development of the collaboration model by further mapping the model’s theoretical foundations. The theories and approaches the thesis draws upon include the learning organisation (Senge, 1990), professional learning community (Hord, 1997), self-determination theory (Ryan and Deci, 2000), conscious-competence model (Howell, 1982), and participatory and co-design.
Participant observation was the research method employed while implementing the collaboration model. Later, three participants, who are also members of the new high school’s initiative group, were selected for semi-structured interviews that enabled collecting additional feedback on the use of the model and ideas on how the collaboration model could potentially be used in a professional learning community. The research findings were juxtaposed with theoretical approaches.
The participant observation and interviews indicate that applying the collaboration model helps map the motivations, competences and weaknesses of the team’s members, providing a clearer understanding of the team’s commonalities and shared learning needs both in the context of creating a learning organisation and as an opportunity within professional learning community working groups. Ideas and questions that would otherwise remain unheard are expressed and the participants feel more connected to various parts of school-life that they do not otherwise come into contact with in their day-to-day work. The collaboration model supports a learning organisation by initiating discussion and giving the participants a better understanding of each other (and each other’s needs), while teaching participants to better express their needs in a universally understandable manner. The interviews revealed that using the collaboration model to promote integration in professional learning communities was seen as its greatest advantage.
The collaboration model has various other potential uses in the school environment on a broader scale, for example as a tool for expressing personal feelings and motivations in art class or as the homeroom teacher’s aide when conducting student performance appraisals.
A limitation of the research is the unique nature of the object of study, which is strongly tied to the new high school’s initiative group. As a result, the apparent openness may not be in correlation with the essence of the collaboration model or the expertise of the workshop instructor. The author of the thesis believes that the collaboration model requires additional analysis from the perspective of educational psychology, with an emphasis on understanding the possibilities and risks of collectively mapping one’s motivations in the work environment.