What is the role of constructivist teachers within faculty communication networks?



Using the biology faculty of one high school (n = 9) and the mathematics faculty of another (n = 16), this study tested the hypothesis that constructivist teachers play an active role within teacher communication networks (the constructivist-teacher hypothesis). This hypothesis contrasts with the view that constructivist teachers operate alone and largely severed from communications among colleagues. Two types of representations of communication patterns among faculty members (i.e., sociographs) were created and analyzed for each faculty. One type of sociograph plotted communications concerning content/pedagogical issues while the other type plotted social/informal communications. Trained raters assessed constructivist-teaching practices using the Reformed Teaching Observation Protocol (RTOP). Positive relationships were found between constructivist-teaching practices and the frequency and significance of communications within both faculties—more so for content/pedagogical issues than for social/informal communications. Importantly, peers sought out constructivist teachers more often than they did traditional teachers, presumably seeking advice regarding teaching practice. Results support the constructivist-teacher hypothesis and indicate that constructivist teachers are not isolated from their peers. Instead, they appear to play an active role, particularly when colleagues are discussing issues related to content and pedagogy. © 2007 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Res Sci Teach 44: 490–505, 2007