University of Tasmania

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Problem-coping and the management of change in secondary schools

posted on 2023-05-26, 21:39 authored by Males, Christina M(Christina Mackay)
The major purpose of this dissertation is to examine how secondary schools cope with problems that arise during the planning and implementation of change. In order to fulfil the purpose of this dissertation, it is necessary also to consider what we already know about the successful management of change, and particularly, about how schools cope with problems that arise when change is being planned and implemented. No matter how well a change project is planned and implemented, problems will arise during both these phases, therefore problem-coping is emerging as crucial in the successful management of change. The more knowledge those persons acting as change agents have about the types of problems that are likely to arise, and about the problem coping strategies that can be used to successfully overcome problems, the more likely a change is to become permanent and institutionalised. To link this theoretical background with practice, it is important to investigate a practical situation. Some research in this area has been carried out in the United States of America by Matthew Miles and the staff of the Project on Improving Urban High Schools. However, there has been no parallel research in the Australian setting. It seems appropriate at this time, when education in Tasmania is going through a period of major change, to carry out a case study in a Tasmanian setting to determine what problems have arisen in the planning and implementation of change, and what strategies have been used to deal with these problems. The school chosen for the case study was Ulverstone High School in the North West of Tasmania. This school was chosen as retention/ participation studies conducted by the Secondary Education Study Unit led by Joan Abbott-Chapman, Phillip Hughes and Colin Wyld had revealed that, among secondary schools on the North West Coast of Tasmania, Ulverstone High School achieved one of the highest rates of increase in the proportion of its year 10 students completing year 12 in the period 1981 to 1986. The writer spent two weeks at Ulverstone High school completing the case study. Interviews with members of the teaching staff and Senior staff of the school, document collection and an observation checklist were the methods used for information collection. The focus of the information collection was how the school managed change and coped with problems that arose during the change process. The findings indicated that change is a complex process and one that is never without problems. A wide range of problems was encountered during change in the case study school. The major and most common problems were associated with: (1) program processes; (2) the attitudes of those people effected by the change; (3) lack of resources and (4) lack of skills to implement the change. It seems clear from the research and review of the literature that a variety of problem-coping strategies need to be employed if successful change is to be achieved.


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Copyright 1990 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). Includes bibliographical references (leaves 95-97). Thesis (M.Ed.Stud.)--University of Tasmania, 1991

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