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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The relationship between school size and school organizational climate in the Vancouver, B.C., Canada, School District, 39 Bennett, Fred H.


Application after application of the Organizational Climate Description Questionnaire (OCDQ) has revealed that the majority of urban core school climates seemed to be "closed" rather than "open". Efforts on the part of school administrators to alter the "closed", "unhealthy" organizational climates in their systems to more "open", "healthy" climates are premature because so little is actually known about how to change a climate. Since "closed" climate conditions seem to be almost synonomous with "large" school size, the purpose of this study has been to contribute some small measure of knowledge as to how to change a school climate by determining the relationship between organizational climate measured by the eight OCDQ subtests—Disengagement, Hindrance, Esprit, Intimacy, Aloofness, Production Emphasis, Thrust, Consideration—and four objective organizational size characteristics—School Area, Staff Members, Enrolment, and Human Density. The impact of these size variables is examined based on data obtained through a field study involving 20 schools and 116 teachers in the Vancouver, British Columbia school system. The data were subjected to factor analytic techniques. The results subsequently suggested that a five-factor pattern of climate dimensions—Principal as Leader, Teacher "qua" Teacher Group Perception, Non-Classroom Teacher Satisfaction, Working Conditions, Hindrance V—was as suitable as an eight-factor pattern. Consequently, the study design was expanded to accomodate the unanticipated results. In terms of its purpose, the study's findings can be briefly summarized as follows: 1) Reduction of Enrolment may prove useful in providing conditions related to the type of leadership behaviour—as described by the Principal as Leader dimension of school organizational climate—normally associated with a more "open", "healthy" climate. 2) Reduction of Staff Members may influence the Principal as Leader dimension of school organizational climate in much the same manner just described for Enrolment. Further investigation of this relationship could well reveal that the reduction of Staff Members, would increase Esprit for the remainder. A smaller staff with higher Esprit will, tend more toward the "open", "healthy" climate; 3) There is a hint in the findings that the association between Density and Principal as Leader and Area's association with both Teacher "qua" Teacher Group Perception and Hindrance (V) is strong enough to justify further research; 4) There Is little Indication that manipulation of any of the four size variables will influence either, the Non-Classroom Teacher Satisfaction or the Working Conditions dimension of a school's organizational climate. Three basic implications are drawn from the findings and related empirical evidence provided by the literature: 1) Smaller schools are imperative if the principal's leadership is not to be smothered by too many pupils and teachers, 2) School size in terms of its Area and its Density, i.e., the number of square feet available to its occupants, may not have as much impact on the climate dimensions as a reduction in Enrolment and Staff Members, but nevertheless, sufficient evidence does exist to. imply that altering Area and Density might prove useful in providing conditions similar to those which are normally associated with an "open" climate, 3) Even though considerably more research is required with respect to gaining much more knowledge concerning the relationship between school size and school climate, the difficulties encountered by this study and several others reported in it, imply that the OCDQ itself should be subjected to further refinement before continuing to subject it to such extensive use.

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