Positioning ourselves: Parity and power in collaborative work

Marilyn Johnston, Richard M. Kerper

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In this article, the authors analyze the difficulties they encountered in trying to establish parity and mutuality in a school-university collaborative project. School-university collaboration is supported rhetorically in both political and educational arenas. Yet the institutional contexts within which teachers and professors work are laden with counterproductive norms and expectations. Collaborative relations push the boundaries of acceptable practice and call into question typical assumptions about the asymmetrical relations between schools and universities. A university professor and graduate associate reflect on their university roles relating to issues of parity and power within the collaborative project. They use separate narratives to describe the changes in their expectations and participation. Their understandings move from the romantic assumption that they should give up the power assigned to their roles and assimilate into the school-based culture to the realization that they cannot ignore their roles, give up their power, or disregard their university culture. They argue that power has a role in nurturing collaboration and that parity must be more than creating similarities and equality. Yet, the use of power and understandings of parity must be continually examined, as inequities and hierarchical contexts contradict collaborative norms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5-24
Number of pages20
JournalCurriculum Inquiry
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1996
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


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