Campbell & Lott Triad Dynamics

Campbell, T., & Lott, L. (2010). Triad dynamics: Investigating social forces, roles, and storylines. Teaching Education, 21(4), 349-366.

Summary: The purpose of the qualitative, multiple case study was to examine the storylines of two triads. A triad consisted of the preservice teacher, mentor teacher, and university supervisor, who were also the researchers in this study. The participants engaged in a summer professional development experience and then met monthly throughout the year. The study found that these triad relationships did not exhibit storylines of power struggle as presented in other research (Bullough & Draper, 2004), but instead the relationships were created through extended time together, trust, and the identification of a common focus, which were common projects that they worked on collaboratively throughout the year.

Research Question:

What sotrylines, roles, and social forces are found to be important in triad dynamics?


Theoretical Perspective: Positioning theory


Methodology: Phenomenology


Participants: 2 triads (consisting of mentor teachers, university supervisors, and preservice teachers). 6 participants total


Data Sources: Qualitative in-depth interviews (12 total) and written documents


Data Analysis: Bracketing


Key Quotes:

  • “The properties of both triads that bound them together were: (1) collaboration occurring between the mentor teachers and the clinical students; and (2) the fluidity of the mentoring teachers’ and clinical students’ position” (p. 361).
  • Collaborative roles are essential in forming strong relationships.
  • “The social forces seen as important for shaping these roles were the curriculum revisions and collaborative inquiries” (p. 361).
  • “This fluidity in roles was seen situated in roles that either: (1) focused on curriculum revision and collaborative inquiries as the mentoring teacher and clinical student saw themselves as collaborators; or (2) focused on the professional growth of the inservice teachers as they saw themselves as mentors and the preservcie teachers as students learning to teach” (p. 361). My thoughts – This is another good argument that connects to our PST Supervision Framework that conceptualizes supervision as professional development for preservice teachers.
  • Strong relationships are not about power. Instead having a common focus on projects and having extended time together helped these triads form stronger and more collaborative relationships.
  • “In this research, power struggles were not found; instead, social forces such as relationships were formed and trust was established as the projct participants spent extended time interacting in the exploratory professional development project/clinical experiences and were focused on projects that had them synthesizing both modules and collaborative inquiries” (p. 362).
  • “The third finding is that uncertainty in expectations can also act as a social force capable of forging roles and a storyline misaligned with those thought most advantageous or sought by a university supervisor” (p. 364).