Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Virtual School Leaders' Experiences and Perspectives of the Benefits of and Barriers to Kindergarten through Grade 12 Virtual Schools in Florida
by Weiss, Erika, Ed.D., Nova Southeastern University, 2018, 231; 10829665
Abstract (Summary)

This applied dissertation responded to two public problems: digital divides and unequal access to educational opportunities via the growth of virtual schooling in kindergarten through Grade 12 (K-12) in the United States. A qualitative instrumental case study approach was used to explore the relative advantages and disadvantages of public K-12 virtual schools in Florida through the experiences and perspectives of 5 virtual school leaders. This research also evaluated the virtual school leaders’ level of innovativeness in relation to the innovativeness/needs paradox (INP) in Rogers’s theory of diffusion of innovations (DOI). The INP suggests that innovativeness plays a role in social stratification issues between the higher and lower socioeconomic individuals in a system.

A demographic survey and interviews were used to gather descriptive details for the case analysis. The Innovativeness Scale collected empirical evidence on virtual school leaders’ level of innovativeness. Results participants were in the early majority category of DOI. Demographics suggested upward social mobility, high educational attainment, and tendencies toward innovativeness. Six themes emerged from the interviews: educational optimism, proinnovation bias, strategies of least resistance, fidelity to old-school norms, virtual schools are a public but private schooling niche, and the counterintuitive gauntlet of innovativeness: the legitimacy of virtual schools and stakeholder divides.

Findings suggested innovativeness in relation to the INP does have the potential to fuel underlying divides between advantaged and disadvantaged students in public K-12 virtual schools in Florida. The interviews suggested additional factors may play a role in divides in association with innovativeness, specifically, individualistic and systemic epistemologies and cultural relativism.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Simonson, Michael
Commitee: Walrod, Shirley
School: Nova Southeastern University
Department: Education
School Location: United States -- Florida
Source: DAI-A 79/11(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Education Policy, Education, Educational technology
Keywords: Diffusion of innovations theory, Digital divide, Educational reforms, Innovativeness/needs paradox, K-12 virtual schools, Qualitative instrumental case study
Publication Number: 10829665
ISBN: 9780438077669
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