Collaboration: A Partnership Solution in Rural Education

Hobart L. Harmon


As an introduction to this special issue of The Rural Educator on the topic of collaboration, I provide examples of how collaboration offers promise as a partnership solution to current and future education challenges of rural schools and their communities. Highlights of two literature reviews establish a historical context for collaboration. Specific examples of collaboration in rural education practice from the literature set the stage for a summary of the
four articles included in the special issue. Last, five questions are posed that if answered could demonstrate the potential value of collaboration to advance research, innovation and practice in rural education.


Association of Educational Service Agencies. (2017). AESA is a national organization for ESAs. Retrieved 2/22/2017 from

Butler, T. (2008). Rural schools and communities: How globalization influences rural school and community collaboration (Unpublished doctoral dissertation). The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA.

Chance, P. L., & Segura, S. N. (2009). A rural high school’s collaborative approach to school improvement. Journal of Research in Rural Education, 24(5). Retrieved from

Eargle, J. C. (2013). "I'm not a bystander": Developing teacher leadership in a rural school-university collaboration. Rural Educator, 35(1). Retrieved from

Green, B. R. (2013). Choice, challenge, and collaboration: Giving teachers of gifted students what they need in professional development (Unpublished doctoral dissertation). Mercer University, Macon, GA.

Harmon, H. L., & Schafft. K. A. (2009). Rural school leadership for collaborative community development. The Rural Educator, 30(3), 4-9.

Kinsella-Meier, M. A., & Gala, N. M. (2016). Collaboration: Definitions and explorations of an essential partnership. Odyssey: New Directions in Deaf Education, 17, 4-9.

Mattessich, P. W. & Monsey, B. R. (1992). Collaboration: What makes it work. A review of research literature on factors influencing successful collaboration. Retrieved from ERIC database (ED390758). Available at

Meyers, A B., Tobin, R. M., Huber, B. J., Conway, D. E., & Shelvin, K. H. (2015). Journal of Educational & Psychological Consultation, 25(2-3), 109-128.

Moser, M. E. (20112). Understanding how novice teachers utilize online collaboration (Unpublished doctoral dissertation). Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, IL.

Muijs, D. (2015). Collaboration and networking among rural schools: Can it work and when? Evidence from England. Peabody Journal of Education, 90(2), 294-305.

Schenke, W., van Driel, J. H., Geijsel, F. P., Sligte, H. W., & Volman, M. L. L. (2016). Characterizing cross-professional collaboration in research and development projects in secondary education. Teachers and Teaching: Theory and Practice, 22(5), 553-569.

Stephens, E. R. (1998). Expanding the vision: New roles for educational service agencies in rural school district improvement. Charleston, WV: Appalachia Educational Laboratory, The Rural Center at AEL.

Stephens, E. R., & Harmon, H. L. (1996, September). Cost analysis studies of programs and services of state networks of ESAs, Perspectives: A Journal of Research and Opinion about Educational Service Agencies, 2, 7-21.

Stephens, E. R., & Keane, W. G. (2005). The educational service agency: American education’s invisible partner. Lanham, MD: University Press of America.

Walker, A. (2012). Collaborating with the community: Lessons from a rural school district. TESOL Journal, 3(3), 469-487.

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