Tennison earns award for dissertation

Dr. Rachel Tennison, Bolivar Primary School assistant principal, received the Outstanding Research Award for Cognitive Coaching from Thinking Collaborative, an organization working to maximize individual and organizational thinking and professional collaboration. She successfully presented her dissertation December 2015 to earn her Doctorate in Education in Educational Leadership from Southwest Baptist University.

Tennison’s dissertation focused on Cognitive Coaching—a professional-development model emphasizing reflection, collaboration and self-directed learning—in the elementary-school setting. The study explored principals' perceptions of Cognitive Coaching’s implementation, determined factors facilitating or inhibiting its school-wide application, and considered the perceptions of teachers and school staff members who use Cognitive Coaching for professional growth.  

“Working with Dr. Tennison was a pleasure because she was self-directed and focused throughout the dissertation process,” said Dr. Nancy Colbaugh, assistant professor of graduate education and chair of Tennison’s dissertation committee. “She developed a very strong directed research study in the area of cognitive coaching, and I am proud that her paper was chosen for this well-deserved award. The results of her study will enable principals and faculties to develop deep levels of thoughtful, reflective collaboration, a key component of successful schools.”

A write-up of Tennison’s study will be included in the 2016 edition of “Cognitive Coaching: A Synthesis of the Research,” as well as in future editions. She received the award at the Thinking Collaborative Symposium held Jan. 27 in Denver, Colo.

“I would be completely amiss to not acknowledge those that made such an award possible,” Tennison said. “I am so grateful to SBU and the professors who encouraged me at every point in the juncture. I am also very grateful to my teammates, both professionally and personally, who stood behind this type of project.”

For more information about Graduate Education at SBU, contact Todd Earl, associate director of graduate admissions, at (417) 328-1843.