Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

School Culture for Change: An Ethnography of a Progressive K-8 Charter School
by McKenna, Crystal, Ph.D., Prescott College, 2018, 202; 10823732
Abstract (Summary)

Change is one of the few constants in education. How a school views and responds to change may be related to factors deeply embedded in its school culture. This ethnography describes the dissertation project implemented at Desert Vision Public Charter School in Gilbert, Arizona. Using an ethnographic approach, the author studied the aspects of school culture and leadership, which she believes helped contribute to sustainable change at Desert Vision K-8. The author reviews the ever-present need and demand for change in education, describing the need to shift from transmissive to transformative education, the importance of professional development, and the challenge of educating students to be effective 21st century citizens. Literature on school culture and the role of leadership is explored in the context of sustainable change. Rationale is provided for implementing ethnographic methodology, and methods for collecting data such as participant observation, focus group discussion, artifact collection, and survey analysis are specified in order to uncover significant cultural characteristics, which may have contributed to sustainable educational change. A model for school culture, highlighting significant cultural characteristics, is proposed in the context of the data collected. This model is also explored as a potentially useful tool for schools outside of this study. The implications of the study uncover a new perspective on leadership and the locus of control of school culture. Intentional hiring practices and the use of non-academic school data are highlighted as strengths in creating a culture for change, and a list of dispositions is shared to aid school leaders in identifying potential candidates who would fit well in a culture for change. The impact on the field of education is outlined, focusing on the potential solutions to current issues such as teacher shortages, teacher education enrollment decline, school culture reform, time/need for soft skills and social/emotional learning, and institutional best practices for transformational schools. The ethnography wraps with recommendations for future research in an effort to further validate the conclusions of this study.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Santo, Bev
Commitee: McMahan, Lynne, Mulvaney, Tracy, Rudibaugh, Lindsey
School: Prescott College
Department: Sustainability Education
School Location: United States -- Arizona
Source: DAI-A 79/10(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Educational leadership, Sustainability
Keywords: 21st century citizenship, Educational change, School culture, Sustainable change, Transformative education
Publication Number: 10823732
ISBN: 978-0-438-01068-0
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