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A study of the relationship between school climate and staff-development practices


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Docker, JG 1988 , 'A study of the relationship between school climate and staff-development practices', PhD thesis, University of Tasmania.

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This thesis has two purposes. The first is to investigate the
relationship between staff development and perceived climate in
Tasmanian schools. The second purpose is to develop approaches to
improving schools using the information gained from teachers about
their perceptions of school climate and staff-development practices.
In addition, research questions about school climate, staff-development
practices, and related school-improvement activities are
suggested and discussed.
Most of the data used in this thesis were gathered during an
evaluation of professional-development practices in Tasmanian schools
during 1983-85. During this evaluation, year-long, intensive case
studies were conducted in over thirty schools. Outcomes of these case
studies included improvement of staff-development practices and
development of a related policy in each school.
The study is described in three main parts. In the first part, an
extensive review of the literature about school climate and staff-development
practices is presented. This review establishes
relationships between the concepts of 'school climate' and 'staff-development
practices'. The characteristics of the terms school
climate and staff-development practices, the relationships between
them, and the argument why research should be done to link these
concepts, are discussed. School effectiveness literature is examined
to further suggest why these two concepts are related. From this
literature review the first part of the thesis is developed: the
conceptual framework of the study.
In the second part of the thesis the author explains why
particular instruments were selected for the study. These instruments
were the Work Environment Scale (WES) and the Readiness, Planning,
Training, Implementation and Maintenance (RPTIM) model for schoolbased,
staff-development practices. In this part, data for description and validation are provided for both instruments that have been used
hitherto in a limited way in Australian schools. In the author's
study, both instruments were used to measure teachers' perceptions of
'actual' and 'preferred' school climates and staff-development
The research reported in this thesis consolidates and extends
previous research to validate the WES and the RPTIM instruments. The
evidence suggests that both instruments have face validity and can be
used with confidence in Australian schools. Analysis showed that both
instruments possessed adequate internal consistency and discriminant
validity if either an individual or a school mean was the unit of
analysis. In addition, teachers in all schools were found to have
similar perceptions about their 'preferred' work environments and the
conduct of staff-development practices alike. However, the perceptions
of the 'actual' environments elicited by both instruments differed
between teachers in different types of schools: primary, grades K-6;
high, grades 7-10; district high, grades K-10; colleges, grades 11-12.
That is, some schools and some types of schools were closer to their
preferred means than others. An analysis of the data obtained from
this study suggests that, if the school climate is 'good', then
staff-development practices will also be 'good'. Additional evidence
is presented from a sample of school case studies to support this
relationship between school climate and staff-development practices.
Third, after establishing a relationship between the results
obtained by the two instruments, questions are raised about ways to
enhance school climate and staff-development practices. The literature
about school improvement is briefly compared with documented research
on school effectiveness. Emphasis is placed on the relationships
between similar characteristics described by researchers in these two
related concepts. As case studies were conducted in workplaces,
teachers' reflections prompted action to improve school practices. The
body of published knowledge and processes by which school improvement
could occur are discussed. Suggestions are made for enhancing school
climate and staff-development practices. This fulfils the second
purpose of the study.

The final chapter provides a summary of the study and the findings reached in relation to the research questions. Finally, there is a
discussion of the implications of this research, and recommendations
are made for further research specifically related to questions of
school climate and staff-development practices.

Item Type: Thesis - PhD
Authors/Creators:Docker, JG
Keywords: School environment, Teachers
Copyright Holders: The Author
Copyright Information:

Copyright 1988 the Author - The University is continuing to endeavour to trace the copyright
owner(s) and in the meantime this item has been reproduced here in good faith. We
would be pleased to hear from the copyright owner(s).

Additional Information:

Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Tasmania, 1989. Bibliography: leaves 329-364

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