Date of Award

8-8-2011

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ded)

Department

Professional Studies in Education

First Advisor

Patricia S. Smeaton, Ed.D.

Second Advisor

George R. Bieger, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Patricia A. Pinciotti, Ed.D.

Abstract

The process of large-scale change is difficult in any organizational structure, and this is particularly true in the field of education. This qualitative study investigated the change process used by five high schools in eastern Pennsylvania while initiating, implementing and sustaining a large-scale change from traditional to block scheduling. This study looks at the entire large-scale change process from inception through evaluation. Through the lens of the large-scale change to block scheduling, the researcher analyzed change in five schools with similar demographics to determine whether similarities existed in the change process and whether school change can be linked to a specific model of change. This study, conducted using a three interview protocol (Seidman, 1998), was guided by one primary research question: What is the process used by high schools to plan, implement and sustain large-scale change? Three research sub-questions supported the primary question: 1) What was the impetus for change to block scheduling?; 2) What process was used by the district to plan and implement the change to block scheduling?; and 3) How has the change to block scheduling been sustained by the district? The participants interviewed included five superintendents, five high school principals and twenty classroom teachers who worked at the participating schools during the transition to block scheduling. Several common characteristics were identified which contributed to the successful implementation of a large-scale change initiative. These include the creation of a committee to plan and implement the change, involvement of stakeholders, and the use of professional development to support the change. A major implication of this study is the identification of the importance of effective leadership during the change process. It was found that the impetus for change involved an organizational leader with a vision for change. One interesting finding was that though all five schools were successful in implementing the change, very little has been done to help sustain the change. Contrary to the research in the literature, this study found that ongoing professional development is not essential to sustaining large-scale change.

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