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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Schools that care
by Tsigas-Fotinis, Vasiliki, Ph.D., Columbia University, 1995, 230; 9533681
Abstract (Summary)

The purpose of this study is two-fold: To develop a working definition of caring in the school context from student, teacher, and administrator descriptions of caring; and to construct a theory of caring in school from existing paradigms of Noddings, Ianni, and Wehlage, and the study's findings.

A qualitative multisite study using interviews as the dominant strategy for data collection guided this inquiry. Ninety-four students, teachers and administrators from four schools, one urban and three suburban, constitute the interview sample.

The results of the study showed that each role in school displays caring in uniquely different ways. In role-specific caring, the focus of care for students is peer-directed, for teachers it is student-directed, and for administrators it is on mediating relations with and between students and teachers by providing opportunities, programs and communication. The direction of the relation of care being exhibited by a particular role differs depending on the role being related to.

A synthesis of all the caring and lack of caring themes identified by students, teachers and administrators in the study lead to a more general working definition of caring in the school context. Inter-role relations occur within a spectrum of three processes that foster caring and three that hinder caring. Caring is fostered among and between roles by being known, involved and supportive. Caring is hindered by being unknown, uninvolved and unsupportive.

The findings indicate that a caring school displays inter-role closure which is defined by the caring actions found among and between student, teacher, and administrator roles. In other words, the three roles desire and are in need of opportunities to be and work with people in other roles. Schools which provide these opportunities have inter-role closure.

The context of school produces role-to-role relations. People are viewed not only as people, but people within the context of the role they represent. The emerging caring school theory indicates that a pattern of receive and respond processes between and among role-members lead to caring relationships. Relationship is the great mediator in school inter-role relations. Informal and formal structures that allow for opportunities for role-members to receive and respond are the parameters of inter-role relationships which enhance inter-role closure.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Ianni, Francis A. J.
School: Columbia University
School Location: United States -- New York
Source: DAI-A 56/06, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: School administration, Educational sociology
Keywords: caring, school culture
Publication Number: 9533681
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