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The purpose of this study was to examine how participants experienced and perceived an M.Ed. program that had a school-based design. In particular, the authors sought to understand: (1) how participants experienced being in a school-based cohort and (2) whether and how participants experienced the three designated tenets of the M.Ed. program: teacher inquiry, social justice and student engagement and motivation.


This qualitative study used semi-structured focus group interviews (n = 7) to examine teachers’ perceptions, using a constant comparative method (Corbin & Strauss, 2008) of open coding to analyze the data and determine emergent themes.


The findings indicate the design of this school-based M.Ed. program provided both social and academic benefits including strengthening teachers’ working relationships and their understanding of students outside their own classroom and a transfer from individual learning to organizational benefit. Teachers positively perceived the three tenets that guided the first year of the program, especially the ability to study social justice and student motivation in depth.

Practical implications

This study has implications for teacher education and retention as well as how boundary spanning roles in PDS schools can impact graduate students’ experiences in schools. Given the current teacher shortage concerns, it is important to understand how M.Ed. programs can be designed with teacher needs at the forefront so learning is relevant and rewarding, both to the individual and the school.


While there are many studies that examine the use of cohorts in education, particularly in doctoral programs, few, if any, studies examine a school-based cohort M.Ed. program for practicing teachers. This study also puts a unique spotlight on how boundary-spanning roles can benefit not only teacher candidates but also practicing teachers in their M.Ed. programs



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16 (1)

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Since submission of this article, the following author(s) have updated their affiliation(s): Hope E. Wilson is at the Special and Early Education Department, Northern Illinois University, DeKalb, IL, USA and Carolyne Ali-Khan is an Associate Professor at the School of Education and Human Services, Molloy University, Rockville Centre, NY, USA.

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© Elizabeth Hale, Hope E. Wilson, Lauren Gibbs, Jessie Didier and Carolyne Ali-Khan. Published in School-University Partnerships. Published by Emerald Publishing Limited. This article is published under the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY 4.0) license. Anyone may reproduce, distribute, translate and create derivative works of this article (for both commercial and non-commercial purposes), subject to full attribution to the original publication and authors. The full terms of this license may be seen at

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
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