A Search For Poly-Collaborative Education: Rediscovering The Social Values Of Minnesota’s Founding Farmers And Imperfect People


Spring 2017



Degree Name


Primary Advisor/Dissertation Chair

Walter Enloe

Secondary Advisor/Reader One

Ron Newell

Peer-Reviewer/Reader Two

Dave Pugh


The purpose of this study was to identify collaborative and innovative educational values emerging in rural Minnesota and how they can embody a new school model: poly-collaborative. The framework for the study derived from the researcher's lived experiences in rural agrarian Minnesota and the cooperative notions of the founding farmers. The instrumental case study utilized three methods. Cultural and unstructured responsive interviews revealed the characteristics of a district public school consortium, a precedent setting charter school, and a unique homeschool support organization. Cross-sectional surveys were utilized to gain a general understanding of some Minnesotans' opinions on education topics. Open coding identified values in the interviews, descriptive statistics in the surveys, and methodological triangulation provided overall results. Meta-analysis evaluated reporting and made research recommendations. Findings suggest that the organizations and people researched embody a desire for education to be more collaborative and less bureaucratic. Social conditions are extrapolated to show potential support for the development of poly-collaborative schools. Poly-collaborative schools are experiential learning environments that utilize the concepts of democratic capitalism. Citizen-students, parents, school employees, and local philanthropists align as owner-operators. The design provides authentic opportunities to learn and practice democratic governance, market economics, ownership, responsibility, and community relations. Future work should widen the scope of research, encourage the development of citizen-students, and identify a location and group of citizens to test the concept.

Research Methodology

Case Study, Interview, Survey (attitude scale, opinion, questionnaire)


Experiential Learning, Poly-Collaborative Education, School Model Development, Cultural Values

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