Twin Teachers: Breaking Down Barriers between High School and College Instructors Through Individual Connections (working title)

Project Abstract

Reducing barriers and improving outcomes for starting first-year college composition students is effectively and efficiently done at the high school level; colleges can play catch-up, but it is not the best use of institutional resources or student time. There is a cultural barrier between high school and college faculty, however, that sometimes keeps high school teachers and college instructors from possessing an intuitive sense of the writing tasks for which they are preparing their students. Broadly, then, is it possible for educators to develop methods to increase the cultural porosity between secondary and post-secondary educators, and, if so, does the transfer of information and values help teachers improve their ability to prepare their students for college-level writing? More specifically, how can a collaborative program help high school teachers and college instructors understand the objectives and cultural values of their respective domains for the purpose of enhancing student preparedness and improving student outcomes? The purpose of this research is to develop a plan for high school teachers and college instructors to collaborate with one another individually to reduce the barriers of professional culture with the aim of making incremental improvements in student learning conditions.

The premise for this collaborative effort is based on the “sister cities” or “twin towns” phenomenon that developed in the 20th century. These engagements pair two cities that are situated in different nations and cultural contexts, often sharing some preexisting similarity, such as population, cultural influence, name, or immigration/emigration history. The two cities then make organized efforts to engage in cultural exchange with one another, promoting cross-border connections, cultural understanding, and commerce. I adopt this concept and apply it to secondary and post-secondary educators. One consensus in the literature is the perception that high schools and colleges tend to be isolated from one another, bringing different pedagogical emphases, attitudes toward assessment, objectives, levels of academic freedom, and social perceptions. Often, neither understands intuitively what the other does; existing impressions rest on the basis of incidental knowledge, not intentionally cultivated knowledge. What high school teachers know about college learning is based on the experience of being a college student, and what college instructors know about high school learning is based on the even more outdated experience of being a high school student. In a “sister cities” type of relationship, intentional collaboration between individual educators, with each acting as an independent representative of their respective place (not a mentor/mentee relationship), may provide an opportunity to promote cross-cultural understanding with the goal of improving student learning.

Funding Type

Research Grant

Academic College

College of Humanities and Fine Arts


English Pedagogy; Teaching Writing at the College Level


Doctor of Arts




Dr. Sara Cooper

Academic College

College of Humanities and Fine Arts

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