Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

The Education of Boys: Experiences of School Leaders in Facilitating Boys Education in Central Jamaica
by Robinson, Cleveland, Ed.D., Temple University, 2020, 283; 27837365
Abstract (Summary)

Education is widely regarded as the engine of personal development and is fundamental in shaping the social trajectory of the society. Conversations about the response of boys to education over recent decades have highlighted worrying concerns. Persistent low achievement of boys in school appears to be concurrent with negative social behaviors of under-educated young men in the society. It is recognized that improvement in boys’ development, performance and educational outcomes at the school level has the potential to contribute to healthy engagement by boys in their community and nation.

The purpose of this qualitative study is to understand the experiences of school leaders in facilitating the education of boys and to analyze those experiences to address the problems of boys’ achievement. The study also sought to understand the dimension of leadership efficacy relative to the education of boys in Jamaica. The researcher examined the Attribution Theory to understand how beliefs about boys’ education and the efficacy of school leaders may affect the ways boys behave and become motivated to achieve. Although the Attribution Theory provides some guidelines about the causality of the degree of achievement among boys, this theoretical frame alone is insufficient in providing a full understanding of the range of experiences encountered by school leaders in facilitating boys’ education.

Four fundamental question guided this study: (a) to what factors do school leaders attribute boys’ achievement? (b) How do school leaders respond to key artifacts attributable to the education of boys in secondary schools in Central Jamaica? (c) What do school leaders do in response to those factors believed to attribute to boys’ achievement? (d) How effective do school leaders think their responses are to factors attributable to boys’ achievement?

Responses to these questions were provided by three categories of school leaders (Principal, Guidance Counsellor and the Head of Department for Languages) totaling twelve respondents across four schools, who responded to a structured one-on-one interview. The interviews were audio-taped, then transcribed and manually coded for thematic analysis and discussion.

The findings of the study points to the importance of supportive environments to boys’ achievement. This includes providing home and school environments that are welcoming and supportive; display of understanding and appreciation by school leaders of sociological factors impacting boys; and the provision of mentorship and motivation by school leaders. With regard to key artifacts of boys’ education, school leaders have rated teaching plans highly, and also point to significant gaps relating to curriculum relevance for boys. Additionally, the findings illustrate that the factors school leaders consider as most impactful on boys’ education are the ones they have greatest control over (e.g., quality of teaching, curriculum structure and relevance). Finally, the findings also point to the notion that efficacy of school leaders in responding to factors attributable to boys’ achievement is heavily skewed in favor of curriculum and instruction, and professional development support given to teachers.

Analysis of the findings reveals key implications for practice. First, there is the need to plan deliberately for boys: organize a dedicated resource pool; enhance practical programs and organize welfare and motivation support. Second, approaches to teaching must be explored, to include appropriate strategies for engaging boys; incorporate differentiated instruction and provide adequate co-curricular support that are attractive. Third, collaboration with other interest such as external stakeholders: Parent Teachers Association, Alumni and the corporate sector helps to build structures to enhance boys’ experiences at school. Fourth, giving attention to curriculum structure and relevance is regarded by school leaders as vital for the productive engagement of boys. Such attentiveness allows for improvement to curriculum implementation and monitoring; and improve quality of learning environment, aesthetically and psycho-socially.

Additionally, implications for research includes: (a) the exploration of a variety of modalities to generate best practices for engaging boys; (b) the conduct of case studies to determine connections between school leadership and the levels of educational achievement.

Key recommendations associated with the research questions include: having shared policy on the issue of boys’ education; conduct action research to determine best pedagogical practices; strengthen communication with parents and external stakeholders; and contextualize the curriculum to ensure relevance to boys. Achievement of these through deliberate actions, will augur well for boys’ educational development.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Davis, James E., Smith, Michael W.
Commitee: Wildermuth, Diana
School: Temple University
Department: Educational Administration
School Location: United States -- Pennsylvania
Source: DAI-A 81/12(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Educational leadership, Education Policy, Gender studies
Keywords: Boys' education, School leaders, Personal development
Publication Number: 27837365
ISBN: 9798645495855
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