Critical success factors in inter-institutional project collaborations
Cath Fraser – Consultant, Previously Bay of Plenty Polytechnic
Judith Honeyfield – Bay of Plenty Polytechnic
Fiona Breen – WELTEC
Mervyn Protheroe – WELTEC
Victor Fester – Otago Polytechnic
|Getting on: A Guide to Good Practice in Inter-Institutional Collaborative Projects|
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|Critical success factors in inter-institutional project collaborations|
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Since 2009, members of the project team have taken part in six separate inter-institutional research collaborations supported by Ako Aotearoa’s Regional Hub Project Fund. This work has assisted the authors to build an extensive community of practice, and a valuable network of colleagues for assistance with other projects. Comments on the strengths of these networks, highlight that the relationships established during a project do not always automatically extend beyond its completion. These observations and considerations led to this project proposal.
Benefits to learners:
Many of the inter-institutional project collaborations had a focus on developing teachers’ skills, and/or providing resources and kits. Nonetheless, almost all those interviewed felt strongly that students had benefitted – either directly or through the “trickle-down effect” – which participant D explained “If the tutors are gaining experience, surely it will impact back on the learners.” Some participants spoke about how the collaborative project had shifted their own and others’ practice, leading to learners benefitting; others referenced the outcomes for students from the particular collaboration and change project they had been involved in.
The primary objective of this research project was to conduct a study of inter-institutional collaborations to identify features which contributed to an extended shelf-life and longer term value for participants, and to use the findings to develop a new resource to guide future project teams. The research team discussed the audience, purpose, contents and structure; referring to existing Ako Aotearoa publications and resources, such as Signposts, Goalposts and the Induction Pack for Trainers. The conclusion was that the material we presented needed to be guided by a similar ethos: simple, accessible language; content restricted to just-in-time practical suggestions; and a focus on relatable and transferable strategies which could be adapted to a range of contexts and projects.
This research has confirmed much of what many practitioners already know: working collaboratively can be a rewarding and empowering experience, and provide a synergy and impetus that individuals would likely have struggled to achieve on their own. Even where the actual project collaboration may have been less than satisfactory, participants remain undeterred about the potential of working collegially and cultivating professional networks beyond their own organisation.
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