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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The process of educational change : a staff development initiative in two school districts Edwards, Constance Louise


This study explored, described, and attempted to explain the process of change in two school districts in British Columbia. The study sought to determine why and how the two districts selected and put into place the same staff development program. A comparative case study method was used. A purposive sample of thirty-two persons from the two districts was interviewed to obtain their perceptions of the processes of change in their respective districts. The individuals in the sample represented three levels of district organizational structure -- classroom teachers, school principals, and district officials. Other data sources were district documents and the researcher's field notes. The data were first analyzed descriptively using as a framework Fullan's three phases of the change process: (1) initiation, (2) implementation, and (3) continuation (including perceived outcomes). Secondly, a comparative analysis between the districts was undertaken. Thirdly, an interpretive analysis, in relation to the current literature on change in education was completed. The three analyses yielded twenty-nine findings, most of which are in accord with the current literature. Some findings, however, do not fit that literature. An analysis of these findings has led to speculative conclusions in the following areas: (1) explaining program selection, (2) emphasizing the importance of certain process issues (timing, conflict, and central office involvement), (3) participation of personnel in relation to position in the organizational structure, and (4) the importance of context. Four recommendations based on the findings and conclusions are made. Two are addressed to practitioners: (1) careful attention should be paid to the contemporary literature because it does explain much of what happens, (2) practitioners should consider carefully the lessons to be learned from local variations because every case appears to have its contingencies that affect the process. The other two recommendations are addressed to those who would do further research: (3) future research which seeks to explain what it is that accounts for local variations could enhance our understanding of change, and (4) a number of methodological limitations of the present study should be addressed in future research attempts of this kind.

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