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A study of the relationship between school climate and staff-development practices

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thesis
posted on 2023-05-26, 22:24 authored by Docker, JG
This thesis has two purposes. The first is to investigate the relationship between staff development and perceived climate in Tasmanian schools. The second purpose is to develop approaches to improving schools using the information gained from teachers about their perceptions of school climate and staff-development practices. In addition, research questions about school climate, staff-development practices, and related school-improvement activities are suggested and discussed. Most of the data used in this thesis were gathered during an evaluation of professional-development practices in Tasmanian schools during 1983-85. During this evaluation, year-long, intensive case studies were conducted in over thirty schools. Outcomes of these case studies included improvement of staff-development practices and development of a related policy in each school. The study is described in three main parts. In the first part, an extensive review of the literature about school climate and staff-development practices is presented. This review establishes relationships between the concepts of 'school climate' and 'staff-development practices'. The characteristics of the terms school climate and staff-development practices, the relationships between them, and the argument why research should be done to link these concepts, are discussed. School effectiveness literature is examined to further suggest why these two concepts are related. From this literature review the first part of the thesis is developed: the conceptual framework of the study. In the second part of the thesis the author explains why particular instruments were selected for the study. These instruments were the Work Environment Scale (WES) and the Readiness, Planning, Training, Implementation and Maintenance (RPTIM) model for schoolbased, staff-development practices. In this part, data for description and validation are provided for both instruments that have been used hitherto in a limited way in Australian schools. In the author's study, both instruments were used to measure teachers' perceptions of 'actual' and 'preferred' school climates and staff-development practices. The research reported in this thesis consolidates and extends previous research to validate the WES and the RPTIM instruments. The evidence suggests that both instruments have face validity and can be used with confidence in Australian schools. Analysis showed that both instruments possessed adequate internal consistency and discriminant validity if either an individual or a school mean was the unit of analysis. In addition, teachers in all schools were found to have similar perceptions about their 'preferred' work environments and the conduct of staff-development practices alike. However, the perceptions of the 'actual' environments elicited by both instruments differed between teachers in different types of schools: primary, grades K-6; high, grades 7-10; district high, grades K-10; colleges, grades 11-12. That is, some schools and some types of schools were closer to their preferred means than others. An analysis of the data obtained from this study suggests that, if the school climate is 'good', then staff-development practices will also be 'good'. Additional evidence is presented from a sample of school case studies to support this relationship between school climate and staff-development practices. Third, after establishing a relationship between the results obtained by the two instruments, questions are raised about ways to enhance school climate and staff-development practices. The literature about school improvement is briefly compared with documented research on school effectiveness. Emphasis is placed on the relationships between similar characteristics described by researchers in these two related concepts. As case studies were conducted in workplaces, teachers' reflections prompted action to improve school practices. The body of published knowledge and processes by which school improvement could occur are discussed. Suggestions are made for enhancing school climate and staff-development practices. This fulfils the second purpose of the study. The final chapter provides a summary of the study and the findings reached in relation to the research questions. Finally, there is a discussion of the implications of this research, and recommendations are made for further research specifically related to questions of school climate and staff-development practices.

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Copyright 1988 the Author - The University is continuing to endeavour to trace the copyright owner(s) and in the meantime this item has been reproduced here in good faith. We would be pleased to hear from the copyright owner(s). Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Tasmania, 1989. Bibliography: leaves 329-364

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