The Educational Administration Department is pleased to present a compilation of Dissertation Abstracts from the HALE Ph.D. and K-12 Educational Administration Ph.D. programs. These abstracts represent the rich and dynamic community of scholars in EAD. The research presented reflects the wide range topics that emerge from a local as well as global perspective on postsecondary education and educational leadership. In reviewing these abstracts we hope you will learn about the interesting research that goes on in the EAD doctoral programs.
K-12 Educational Administration
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How principals and teachers respond to states’ accountability systems
Author: Hyemi Lee (2013)
Advisor: Susan Printy
Since the 1990s, many states have started implementing standards-based reforms and developed their own accountability systems. Each state established academic content and performance standards, implemented test for all the students in grades 3 through 8 annually, and set up annual measurable objectives in reading and mathematics for districts, schools, and designated student subgroups within schools. The combination of states’ accountability policies, such as performance standards, high school graduation exit exams, and the difference of between starting points and intermediate goals, may lead to the varying strength of the accountability systems in different states.
Although several studies focused on whether these differences are related to students’ achievement and teachers’ instruction, little is known about how principals respond to accountability systems, although principals make a big difference in teachers’ instruction and students’ academic outcomes.
Therefore, it may be necessary to find the relationship between the strength of the states’ accountability policies and principals’ responses and the relationship between the strength of the states’ accountability systems and teachers’ responses.
The relationship between the strength of accountability systems (the stats’ proficiency performance standards, the difference of starting point and intermediate goals (AMO strength) in states, and the high school graduation exit exams) and principals’ responses (having influence on instruction and facilitating teachers’ learning) were studied using 2-level hierarchical linear modeling (HLM) analysis based on 2007-2008 SASS, and the relationship between the strength of accountability systems and teachers’ responses (teacher autonomy and their participation in professional development programs) were examined using 3-level hierarchical linear modeling analysis based on the same data set.
The analysis of two level HLM found the negative effects of states’ accountability systems on principals responses. AMO strength was negatively related to principals’ influence on instruction, and the high school graduation exit exams negatively affected principals’ support of professional days before and during the school year. However, other states’ accountability policies, the proficiency performance standards may not have any relationship with principals’ influence on instruction and their facilitating teacher learning. Principals’ professional development programs and school climate were related to principals’ responses to states’ accountability systems.
The findings of three level HLM showed that the proficiency performance standards increase teacher curriculum autonomy and their spending time for content professional development programs although AMOs strength and high school graduation school exit exams decreased them. Principals were an essential factor for teacher autonomy and their participation in professional development. School physical features were effective on teacher curriculum autonomy and their content professional development programs, while school climate were critical on teacher instructional autonomy and teachers’ spending time in classroom management.
The implications of the 2003 Free Primary Education for girls’ educational opportunities in Kenya: A case study of girls attending public schools in Kisii district, Western Kenya
Author: Sheba Onchiri (2013)
Advisor: Christopher Dunbar
Reforms aimed at meeting the Education for All (EFA) global initiative have been implemented in several developing countries in the recent past. One of the goals of this global reform is to increase access to schools for girls and children from low-income families who are considered educationally marginalized due to socio-cultural and poverty related factors. Proponents of EFA initiative emphasize that the education of women and girls in particular is inextricably linked to delayed early marriages, reduction of maternal deaths, and prevention of unsafe sex and its related consequences. It is on the backdrop of such global efforts that Kenya initiated the 2003 Free Primary Education (FPE) policy with the intent to increase access to schools for disadvantaged groups such as girls.
This study sought to explore the implications of the 2003 FPE policy for girls’ educational opportunities in Kenya. Using a qualitative case study design, this study explored the schooling experiences of girls in one urban and one rural public primary school in Kisii district, Western Kenya. The study sought to answer the following questions: 1. What have been the schooling experiences of girls since 2003? 2. How has FPE policy influenced girls’ participation and achievement in public primary schools? 3. What factors inhibit girls’ participation and achievement in schools? 4. What factors enhance girls’ participation and achievement in schools?
Data for this study were collected for a period of two months using face-to-face open-ended interviews. The respondents included two school principals (both males), two teachers (both females) and eight female students in two focus groups. Each focus group was composed of four girls. The findings indicate that because of the government removal of tuition fee and the provision of textbooks and writing materials, the 2003 Free Primary Education policy has improved the opportunities of girls’ educational participation. However, hurdles such as teenage pregnancies and lack of, or shortage of classrooms, teachers, supplementary textbooks, toilets, and sanitary pads have posed a threat to girls’ active participation. External factors such as poverty and negative attitude towards girls’ education continue to inhibit girls from active schooling in the wake of the 2003 Free Primary Education policy.
This study presents a meaningful text that is vital to designing gender sensitive educational reforms and programs that can benefit girls especially those residing and schooling in rural and marginalized areas. Policymakers and implementers will find this study key in highlighting both the challenges and opportunities that can be exploited to address issues of poverty and socio-cultural practices that continue inhibiting girls from actively participating in education and thus, derailing the realization of Education for All (EFA) initiative and the 2003 FPE policy goals.
Success Stories: Biographical narratives of three women school principals in Kenya
Author:Damaris Moraa Mayienga (2013)
Advisor: Susan Printy
Studies indicate that women are poorly represented in school leadership across the various regions of the world particularly in developing countries. Most studies explain this underrepresentation in terms of external or institutional factors that have impeded women’s advancement onto school leadership. Such factors include women’s lack of preparation for school leadership, discriminative hiring procedures, hostile work environments, and familial demands on women’s time. Studies of this nature tend to shed little light on the personal or internal factors that hinder or enhance women’s attainment of school leadership. By internal factors I mean variables such as self-image and attitude towards leadership. My study focuses on the interaction between personal and institutional factors in shaping the experiences of women school leaders in Kenya. Using the biographical approach the study examines the impact of gender socialization (at home, school and in leadership) on the self-image of three successful high school women principals in Kenya and how their self-image contributed to their ascension onto school leadership. Alongside gender socialization and self-image, this study highlights the role of protective family capital that contributed to the women’s development of self-discipline; a virtue that enabled them to sail above the constraints of the patriarchal society in which they grew up. Findings from this dissertation will complement studies that explain women underrepresentation in school leadership. Moreover, this study shows how gender relations interact with personal and institutional factors to shape women’s experiences in Kenya.
Adult learners in Teacher education: Developing a sense of self as a teacher
Author: Lesa Louch (2013)
Advisor: John Dirkx
The purpose of this research was to gain an understanding of how returning adult learners, who were enrolled in a teacher preparation program within a career college, understood and made sense of their experiences in the program. This qualitative study centered on the experiences and stories of six adult learners who were student teaching while attending a career college.
The developmental nature of teacher identity was a central finding of this research. There were four major themes that highlighted the experiences of these adult learner pre-service teachers, which included: (1) disorienting experiences, (2) the importance of remembered individuals, (3) the influence of cooperating teachers (CTs), and (4) an emerging sense of identity as a teacher.
The findings suggest that adult learners perceived their experiences within the teacher education program as ones in which they developed a preliminary sense of identity as a teacher. The participants’ construction and reconstruction of their identities were guided by their conceptualizations of what it meant to be a teacher and what it meant to teach. The findings of this study continue the discussion as to how adult learners make sense of their teacher preparation experiences.
Describing and explaining the personal and professional moral codes considered by administrators as they make decisions
Author:David Phillips (2013)
Advisor: Phillip Cusick
Every administrative action a principal will take is reduced to a decision. These decisions are made in an arena of overlapping moralities stemming from the organizational morality in concert with his/her personal morality. As Barnard stated, it is impossible to divorce one from the other. The purpose of this study was to attempt to describe and explain the personal and professional moral codes considered by a set of school administrators as they make decisions.
This descriptive study examines the contributing experiences of 25 principals’ backgrounds influencing the development and establishment of their personal moral code. The study also considers the role professional codes contribute to principal decisions. To establish a theoretical foundation for the project, the study explores the views of Hebert Simon, Immanuel Kant and Henri Bergson. The three views describe morality from differing perspectives: Simon from an organization view, Kant’s perspective duty-based morality, and Bergson’s description of Open and Closed morality. Correlations are drawn from scenarios shared by principals as to which theory decisions represented.
The majority of the principals in this study came from hard working, modest backgrounds, where upward mobility and a ferocious belief in the power of education are common themes in their upbringing. Principals consider themselves an important piece of the school organization. In reality, they are a good fit for leading the institution of schooling. The study concludes that in most circumstances, principals’ personal morality and organizational morality mesh to support safety, learning and efficiency in managing schools.