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Finding Value and Meaning in the Concept of Partnership

Abstract

"What is a partnership? This seemingly simple question evokes an astonishing variety of responses that can have profound implications for the formation, operation and outcomes of a partnership. In this study we develop a model of partnership with the goal of linking embedded partnership relations to educational outcomes. The academic literature around ideas of partnering leads to an organizational or community building view of partnerships. However, in an electronic Delphi panel conducted as part of the Georgia Tech Math Science Partnership (MSP) Research, Evaluation, and Technical Assistance (RETA) project, four distinct ways of conceptualizing partnership were found. Many respondents used entity-based conceptualizations in which the partnership is comprised of memberships, boundaries, and consists of formal and informal organizing structures designed to achieve specific functions. Other respondents used a process based conceptualization in which relationships are built up over time to enhance levels of trust and cooperation. A third group employed an agreement-based conceptualization with predetermined goals aimed at improving performance in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education. A final view was of partnerships as a venue or opportunity to interact. The findings are drawn from a four round electronic Delphi panel of 32 STEM education professionals who have experience working with and organizing math and science education partnerships that link universities and K-12 schools (as required under MSP)."

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