Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

A systems approach to public school reform: Implications for the use of social systems design in a small rural school
by Rawlins, Holly, Ph.D., Saybrook University, 2007, 120; 3404534
Abstract (Summary)

How can a community ensure that its public schools reflect local values and beliefs about education? The complexities involved in the reform of existing public schools, or the creation of a new system of schooling, have caused some researchers to explore new methodological avenues to change (Banathy, 1991; Duffy, Rogerson, & Blick, 2000; Jenlink, 1995; Jenlink, Reigeluth, Carr, & Nelson, 1998). Exploratory investigations by educational researchers on the plausibility of various approaches serve to inform the present and future debate over how to best serve the nation's children.

This study used formative research (Reigeluth & Frick, 1999) as a means to assess the applicability of Social Systems Design (Banathy, 1996) to a small, culturally diverse rural school in Point Arena, California. The purpose of this study was to create an “accurate application of an instruction-design theory” (Reigeluth, 1999, p. 636) to make suggestions for improvements for future users of the design methodology.

A key finding of this research was that the time commitment on the part of the design team is long and intensive. Another finding was that specific champions from the system of study are necessary for success. Specifically, in a school setting, these include the superintendent, the school board, and the site principal. Lastly, it is vital to the process that an internal facilitator with knowledge of systems design be a member of the design team.

Several recommendations for improvement to the theory emerged from the research study. First, due to the time demands of the design process, it is recommended that a core project team be assembled to share the numerous and varied tasks needed to operate effectively. Another recommendation is that the researcher pays specific attention to the timing between design stages. Finally, the dual role of user-designer of the system and researcher requires careful consideration and constant monitoring. The potential for role conflict is especially acute in a small rural school, where most design team members have a long personal history with one another.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Adams, John D.
Commitee: Jenks, C. Lynn, Walton, Doug
School: Saybrook University
Department: Organizational Systems
School Location: United States -- California
Source: DAI-A 71/06, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Social research, Educational evaluation, School administration
Keywords: Formative research, Reform, Rural education, School reform, Social system design
Publication Number: 3404534
ISBN: 978-1-124-01601-6
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