Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

First impression processes: Awareness, comprehension, and opinion-formation and their effect on implementation of state education policy
by Mancinelli, Marc D., Ed.D., University of Pennsylvania, 2014, 271; 3622656
Abstract (Summary)

This study seeks to address the question "How do school and district leaders and teachers become aware of, take steps to comprehend, and form opinions about state policies?" These "first impression processes" represent significant parts of the processes by which district administrators, school administrators, and teachers make sense of state policies in the course of implementation. In some settings, educators, particularly school administrators and teachers, may be less likely to be aware of and fully understand important policies by virtue of their distance from state-to-district policy messages. They also may be more likely to be subject to outside influence in forming opinions. The "first impression processes" are examined within the specific context of implementing Achieve NJ, a policy which sets forth rigorous new guidelines for teacher evaluation in New Jersey and "lands" in districts in the course of the research. It uses as a theoretical framework Weick's (1995) model of sense-making applied to a schools context. A total of 293 surveys and 71 interviews were conducted with policy pilot and non-pilot district and school administrators and teachers.

Findings indicate that district administrators best and teachers least understood policies. Awareness typically depended on position in district hierarchy. Comprehension depended on individual research and collaborative, collegial processing opportunities. These efforts were particularly effective when paired with NJDOE personnel. Opinion formation occurred in conjunction with collaborative comprehension processes and was less dependent on existing perceptions or media influence. Pilot and non-pilot educators were most similar in opinion formation, and differed most in comprehension. District officials were more aware of and better comprehended policy specifics and policy contexts. School officials were less aware and comprehending, and teachers were comparatively the least in these areas.

The following recommendations emerge from this work. State departments of education may benefit from engaging teachers more directly through diverse policy communication efforts. Departments might also work to become collaborative collegial partners with schools as educators in school settings make sense of new policies. Implementation liaisons or more-permanent support structures such as the NJDOE Regional Achievement Centers may provide opportunities for state departments of education to partner with schools in collaborative processing of significant new policies and, in turn, bring about more effective implementation and policy outcomes.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Kafai, Yasmin B.
Commitee: Mata, Warren F., Quinn, Rand
School: University of Pennsylvania
Department: Teaching, Learning and Curriculum
School Location: United States -- Pennsylvania
Source: DAI-A 75/09(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Educational leadership, Education Policy, School administration
Keywords: New jersey, Policy awareness, Policy comprehension, Policy implementation, Policy opinion, Teacher evaluation
Publication Number: 3622656
ISBN: 978-1-303-94523-6
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