Schools are organizations with a formal bureaucratic structure. Hoy and Sweetland applied the work of Gouldner, who viewed organizational structure as ranging from representative to punishment centered, and Adler and Borys, who viewed bureaucracy as ranging from enabling to coercive, to schools. They coined the term “enabling school structures” (ESS), which they defined as “a hierarchy of authority and a system of rules and regulations that help rather than hinder the teaching learning mission of the school.” Hoy and Sweetland then developed and validated a reliable instrument to measure this construct. This spawned a considerable body of research on the antecedents and consequents of ESS. A comprehensive literature review from 2000 to 2018 produced 22 articles that utilized ESS as conceptualized and operationalized by Hoy and Sweetland. This review did not include book chapters or unpublished dissertations. Findings from the research suggest that ESS fosters trust relationships and collaboration among teachers. It helps to establish a culture of academic optimism and promotes the development of professional learning communities. ESS has been shown to have both a direct and indirect effect on student achievement. ESS is correlated with a host of factors deemed important in schools, such as teacher and principal authenticity, collective teacher efficacy, teacher professionalism, and collective responsibility. It is negatively associated with dependence on superiors, dependence on rules, truth spinning, role conflict, and illegitimate politics. It appears to be higher in smaller schools, particularly schools situated in rural areas. Studies have been conducted in China, Turkey, and South and Central America, which have given credence to the notion that ESS has applicability beyond the United States where the work was originally conceptualized. ESS was not affected by socioeconomic status in schools in the United States, and therefore, it may serve as one way to ameliorate the negative effects of poverty on student success.
Roxanne M. Mitchell
Anna Saiti and Theodoros Stefou
When using the hierarchical approach, one delegates duties from the upper to the lower levels of a hierarchical structure. This system is characterized by an echelon arrangement (“a pyramid organization”), which gives the impression of a pyramid. This kind of structure is the simplest type of work distribution and is based upon the Fayol principles, namely, the unity of administration and a hierarchical scale. Certainly, this system of organizational structure (as with any system) has both advantages and disadvantages. A hierarchical approach expresses the classical view of the organizational structure and may be implemented in any kind or size of organization. If organizations are to enhance employees’ motivation and team spirit then employees’ perceptions are an important tool. Within this framework, individuals in the military and educational sector have a rather sensitive working environment, one quite different from other sectors. Leadership is without doubt the most essential part of any organization and is key for the efficient performance and continued development of an organization. Flexible networks, open communication processes, and leaders with vision and a creative, constructive, and positive spirit favorably affect employees’ feelings and enhance innovation and fluidity. Taking into consideration that a highly hierarchical system may adversely affect incentives to exert effort as well as the efficiency of communication channels, one may consider the importance of the contribution of a leader and the development of leadership as an acute issue that has a significant impact upon staff morale and efficient performance, especially in military and educational sector.
It is evident that in many educational systems there has been a partial dissolution of the traditional single school model towards more flexible modes of organizational link-up, taking the form of increased collaboration among schools. The early 21st-century climate of rapid technological change creates a need for collective knowledge creation and information sharing at classroom, school, and system level. Different forms of networks, collaboratives, and federations have become an established part of many educational landscapes and have arisen for a number of reasons. Some have been “imposed” on schools, others have been “incentivized” by the offer of external funding, but many have arisen because of the efforts of educational leaders who want to “make a difference” in their locality, which assumes their essential “good.” Within education, networks are regarded as one of the most promising levers for large-scale reform due to their potential to re-culture both the environment and the system in which policy-makers operate through increased cooperation, interconnectedness, and multi-agency. School networks contribute to capacity-building across the education service through the production of multiple solutions for potential, multifaceted, and intractable problems. Networks foster innovation, providing a test bed for new ideas while offering a platform for gradual innovation, distributing the risks and the workloads among different schools. Moreover, they provide capacity-building, reflective practice, and an inquiry frame of mind besides raising achievement and enhancing student outcomes through the sharing of resources and professional expertise. Networks enable schools to overcome their isolationism and move to form community relationships. Notwithstanding the benefits generated by collaboration, some of the ambiguities surrounding the setting up of school networks focus on: network purpose; collaborative inertia; collaboration and accountability; trust and relationships; conscription and volunteerism; identity and autonomy; competition and cooperation; lateral agency; and power inequality. There is no simple, single solution to leading networks, due to the very nature of a network making it difficult to define who its leaders are, resulting in leadership that is defined by activity rather than by formal position.
Meenakshi Gajria and Athena Lentini McAlenney
Reading comprehension, or the ability to extract information accurately from reading narrative or content area textbooks, is critical for school success. Many students identified with learning disabilities struggle with comprehending or acquiring knowledge from text despite adequate word-recognition skills. These students experience greater difficulty as they move from elementary to middle school where the focus shifts from “learning to read” to “reading to learn.” Although the group of students with learning disabilities vary with respect to their challenges in reading, some general characteristics of this group include problems identifying central ideas of a text, including its relationship to supporting ideas, differentiating between important and unimportant details, asking questions, drawing inferences, creating a summary, and recalling textual ideas. Typically, these students are passive readers that do not spontaneously employ task appropriate cognitive strategies nor monitor their ongoing understanding of the text, resulting in limited understanding of both narrative and expository texts. An evidence-based approach to comprehension instruction is centered on teaching students the cognitive strategies used by proficient readers. Within the framework of reading comprehension, the goal of cognitive strategies is to teach students to actively engage with the text, to make connections with it and their prior knowledge, so that learning becomes more purposeful, deliberate, and self-regulated. Texts differ in the level of challenge that they present to students. Narrative texts are generally simpler to read as these are based on a temporal sequence of events and have a predictable story structure. In contrast, expository texts, such as social studies and science, can be particularly demanding as there are multiple and complex text structures based on the relationship of ideas about a particular concept or topic. Using principles of explicit instruction, all learners, including students with learning disabilities and English language learners, can be taught cognitive strategies that have been proven effective for increasing reading comprehension. Early research focused on the instruction in a single cognitive strategy to promote reading comprehension such as identifying story grammar elements and story mapping for narrative texts and identifying the main idea, summarizing, and text structure for expository texts. Later researchers embedded a metacognitive component, such as self-monitoring with a specific cognitive strategy, and also developed multicomponent reading packages, such as reciprocal teaching, that integrated the use of several cognitive strategies. Instruction in cognitive and metacognitive strategies is a promising approach for students with learning disabilities to support their independent use of reading comprehension strategies and for promoting academic achievement across content areas and grade levels.
Diane Myers, Brandi Simonsen, and George Sugai
Actively engaging learners in the classroom has been associated with increases in learners’ academic and behavioral performance. Multiple empirically supported strategies exist for actively engaging learners, including increasing opportunities for learners to respond and planning highly engaging lessons. In support of these engagement strategies, educators also systematically implement empirically supported classroom management strategies to increase the likelihood of appropriate behaviors and decrease the likelihood of inappropriate behaviors. These classroom management strategies include: (a) maximizing structure, which includes both the physical (e.g., desk arrangement) and embedded (e.g., classroom routines) aspects of structure; (b) establishing, operationally defining, teaching, prompting, and monitoring students’ expected classroom behaviors; (c) developing a continuum of acknowledgment strategies to reinforce (i.e., increase the future likelihood of) those expected behaviors; and (d) establishing a continuum of responses for behaviors that do not meet expectations. In addition, educators collect relevant data to evaluate if learners are engaged and meeting academic and behavioral expectations. Finally, to create a classroom environment conducive to engaging all learners, academic and behavioral instruction and support must be: (a) contextually and culturally relevant for learners, and (b) differentiated to meet the diverse learning and behavioral needs within the classroom. If educators explicitly and routinely implement empirically supported academic and behavioral instruction and support for all learners, the majority of learners will engage in instruction and demonstrate behaviors that meet expectations, reducing the number of learners who require additional levels of support. Meanwhile, effective educators review academic and behavioral data to determine if learners require more intensive support at a group or individual learner level.
Rune Johan Krumsvik and Øystein Olav Skaar
Research shows that for decades, there have been attempts to implement information and communication technology (ICT) in schools, but it has had a weak uptake among teachers thus far. One of the reasons for this lack of integration is that teachers perceive ICT as an additional load on their everyday practices that would increase the complexity of their roles. Teachers are therefore often cautious and sceptical about ICT implementation because it is often not properly attached to deeply entrenched school structure. Adaptive learning tools have provided new opportunities to facilitate this integration. Adaptive learning tools are expected to contribute to the customization and personalization of pupil learning by continually calibrating and adjusting pupils’ learning activities to their skill and competence levels. However, it is important to discuss whether adaptive learning tools need to be sufficiently anchored in the curriculum, in formative assessment, in adaptive education, and in homework to achieve their potential. In this way, we can obtain an understanding of how a systematic implementation of adaptive learning tools influences the learning outcomes, learning environment, and motivation of pupils in school, when such tools are attached to the deeply entrenched structures in school. In such implementation processes it seems like we need to reconsider the value of homework to achieve, for example, sufficient volume training and root learning with adaptive learning tools, thus freeing up time for practical mathematics and deep learning at school. Importantly, this requires a digital competence among teachers, where the critical factor is the teacher’s ability to create a teaching doctrine in which technology use is justified by didactic choices.
Interviews are used ubiquitously in everyday life as a source of information about the social world, whether in clinical interviews, parent–teacher interviews, job interviews, or media and journalistic interviews. Likewise, researchers in education have long made use of a spectrum of interview formats to produce knowledge about research problems. Interview formats used by education researchers range from standardized survey interviews to semi-structured interviews to open-ended, conversational interviews. Broadly, data in the form of answers to questions and descriptions generated in interviews are used as evidence in a variety of ways across educational research. Yet researchers have long acknowledged the problems associated with interview research, including those to do with self-reported data, accomplishing mutual understanding, and representation of the Other. How researchers deal with these problems is directly relevant to the value attributed to interview accounts as evidence to support claims. The use to which educational researchers put interviews varies widely, particularly since they draw on a range of epistemological perspectives in their use of interviews—whether or not these are acknowledged. Neopositivist, emotionalist or romantic, constructionist, transformative, decolonizing, and new materialist approaches to interviews are founded in different epistemological assumptions about how interviews are conducted, how interview reports are used as evidence to warrant claims, and how the validity or quality of studies is judged. Although much has been written about interview practice, there are still numerous avenues to explore with respect to using the interview method in educational research.
Boele De Raad and Boris Mlačić
The field of dispositional traits of personality is best summarized in terms of five fundamental dimensions: the Big Five personality trait factors, namely Extraversion, Agreeableness, Conscientiousness, Emotional Stability, and Intellect. The Big Five find their origin in psycho-lexical work in which the lexicon of a language is scanned for all words that can inform about personality traits. The Big Five factors have emerged most articulately in Indo-European languages in Europe and the United States, and weaker versions have appeared in non-Indo-European languages. The model is most functional and detailed in a format that integrates simple structure and circular representations. Such a format gives the Big Five system great accommodative potential, meaning that many or most of the concepts developed in approaches other than the Big Five can be located in that system, thus enhancing the communication about personality traits in the field. The Big Five model has been applied in virtually all disciplines of psychology, including clinical, social, organizational, and developmental psychology. In particular, the Big Five have been found useful in the field of learning and education where the factor Conscientiousness has been identified as a strong predictor of academic performance, but where other factors of the Big Five also have been demonstrated to play important roles, often in moderating or mediating sense. The Big Five model has faced a number of critical issues, one of which concerns the criteria of inclusion of trait-descriptive words from the lexicon. With relaxed criteria, allowing more than just dispositional trait words (e.g., trait words that are predominantly evaluative in nature), additional dimensions may emerge beyond the Big Five, mostly conveying features of morality. An important issue regards the cross-cultural applicability of trait-descriptive dimensions. With a cross-cultural emphasis, possibly no more than three factors, expressive of traits of Extraversion, Agreeableness, and Conscientiousness, make the best chance for claims of universality. For a good understanding of traits representing the remaining Big Five dimensions, and also dimensions that have sometimes been identified beyond the Big Five, it is not only important to specify their regional applicability, but also to articulate differences in research methodology.