Clark School-University Relationships

Clark, R. W. (1988). School-University relationships: An interpretive review. In K. A. Sirotnik & J. I. Goodlad (Eds.), School-University partnerships in action: Concepts, cases, and concerns (pp. 31-65). New York: Teachers College Press.

Thoughts: Clark's presentation of the relationship between schools and universities sounds like Men are From Mars and Women are from Venus - schools from Mars, universities from Venus - but they both educate on Earth. He claims that because these two entities struggle with talking to each other, their relationship has suffered and will continue to suffer. One the outside it appears that each institution is very complementary and should be working towards the same goal; however, this perception is not accurate. In fact, the situation is more complex. Both have distinct, almost incompatible cultures. Each has different values. Each knows little about what the other one does. Since every teacher has passed through collegiate preparation, the perception is that they, meaning teachers, know how other teachers should be prepared. It seems like I could apply the apprenticeship of observation to this idea as well. The apprenticeship of observation is the feeling that because we all have been students at one point in time, we think that we know how to teach when really teaching is much more complex and requires particular pedagogical content knowledge, something not achieved as a student. The same could be said here. Teachers were once students of colleges of education and therefore believe that they know how teachers should be prepared when in fact the preparation of teachers is much more complex. It is not to say that neither side should listen to one another, but both entities get into trouble by causing tension when one tries to tell the other how to do their job.

  • Goodlad is quoted in this text regarding the size of a partnership. Goodlad (1984, p. 356) stated that, "Each partnership must be small enough to be conceptually and logically manageable and large enough to include the essential components of the community arena - no more (as quoted in Clark, 1988, pp. 32-33)."

Terminology and Definitions

  • Terms for partnerships should be defined and used purposefully not conveniently.
  • Networks

    • I particularly like this definition of network. Clark refer's to Parker's (1977) definition: Networks "...facilitate the sharing of information and psychological support among independent innovators and problem solvers who link together voluntarily as equals seeking assistance not provided by established systems (p. 25) (as quoted in Clark, 1988, p. 35)."
    • Definition of Partnership: "Whatever the nature of agreement or disagreement on the features constituting a network, it should be clear what a network is not - namely, it is not a deliberately designed, collaborative arrangement between different institutions working together to advance self-interests and solve common problems (p. 37)."
  • Collaboratives, Consortiums, Cooperatives, and Partnerships

    • There are varying levels of relationships between institutions. Cooperation would be the most surface-oriented and collaboration would be the deepest, most involved level of relationship. Involvement is the defining factor of level.

collaboration diagram.png
  • "Reciprocal interdependencies are those situations in which the outputs of each become the inputs for others (p. 39)."
  • Partnerships should have reciprocal relationships. 
  • Reciprocal interdependence requires mutual adjustment, which is costly.
  • Partnerships are more than changing the preposition of "with" to... "This symbiotic mutualism is more than 'working with'; it is working with in order to satisfy the mutual self-interests of the two (or more) agencies involved. It is not enough that the agencies are equal in the relationship; they need to be mutually benefiting each other (p. 40)."
  • Conclusions About Terminology

    • "Partnership or consortium may describe relations between dissimilar entities - but not always. Networks are essentially antiestablishment. When networks become formalized, the line between a network and an organization becomes very blurred; therefore, those members forming networks need to beware of overly specifying governance, unless they seek the benefits of a formal organization instead of those attributable to a social network (p. 41)."

Historical Perspective on School-University Relationships

  • Early Collaboration

    • Summary of the Committee of Ten: "The conferences were convened and included 47 individuals from colleges and universities and 42 school people. Their recommendations spoke to the need for an earlier introduction of basic elements of all the disciplines, interdisciplinary instruction, emphasis on study skills and critical thinking, upgrading of grammar school studies, and uniformity of teaching for all students - college-bound or not. In addition, they called for improvement of teacher preparation for both elementary and secondary levels (pp. 42-43)."
    • Relationships between schools and universities began with the Committee of Ten.
    • The creation of college entrance examinations by the College Entrance Examination Board caused animosity between schools and universities. University requirements felt restrictive, stifling, and demeaning to schools, who felt that universities were trying to dictate their roles and responsibilities. (My THOUGHTS: Turf wars.)
    • Summary of relationships from 1880's to WWII: "College efforts to provide for articulation with the lower schools by prescribing entrance requirements, specifying courses, and establishing entrance examinations. School officials' involvement was largely in the role of determining how they could satisfy the colleges, with several noteworthy exceptions such as the Eight-Year Study. Informal networks of university and school leaders that served to produce similarity among schools, to promote the personal power of individuals in the networks, and to establish conceptual, 'scientific' approaches to school management. Often these relationships were symbiotic for the individuals involved - demonstrating that symbiotic relationships can be used for the benefit of the institutions involved or the enhancement of the individual's personal prestige (p. 46)."
  • More Recent Collaboration

    • "With the hustling for students to maintain faculty teaching loads, the competitive market became a new stimulator of growth for the idea of school-university collaboration. In short, if the college could get schools to join in a partnership, it could protect a market for its serves. While this may be one way in which self-interests are served, it probably does not lead to the kind of symbiotic relationship discussed above (p. 48)."

The Whys, Wherefores, and Whatnots of Collaboration

  • What Is to Be Gained from Collaboration?

    • Each has something to be gained from the other. Together they, schools and universities, make the entire picture.
    • Each feels a sense of belonging.
    • Each barters - universities getting tuition money, schools getting professional development at a cheaper price.
    • Collaborations are change catalysts.
  • What Are Some of the Problems

    • Incompatibility
    • Negative perceptions of the other
    • Neither scholars nor practitioners are rewarded by their institutions for their work in collaborations.
    • When the university views its collaborative work as service, it devalues the partner because service implies one partner is inferior as the receiver or beneficiary of the service.
  • Possibilities for More Successful School-University Relationships

    • Success requires a key person who is respected by both institutions.
    • "Recognition of individual effort in a collaboration is much more apt to be obtained if the institutions' leaders are committed to the collaboration (p. 60)."



  • Norris, C. A., Starrfield, S. L., & Hartwell, L. K. (1984, April). Old adversaries united: Benefits of collaborative research. NASSP Bulletin, 68, 143 - 147.