Dealing with complexity and ambiguity: The nature and influence of educational values and beliefs on administrative decision making.
AuthorCorral, Nadine Esther.
Committee ChairMaker, C. June
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractChanging societal needs and concerns about the educational status of America's students have spawned nation-wide reform efforts. Many of these have targeted principals' practices. This study was focused on one set of variables important in understanding these practices, namely, educational values and beliefs. The participants* in this study were eight elementary school principals whose schools were representative of the linguistic, ethnic, and economic diversity of the community in which the study was conducted. Data regarding decision making events involving complex or ambiguous school issues were obtained from a questionnaire and an interview with each principal. Areas of examination included (a) types of issues perceived as complex or ambiguous, (b) values and beliefs about these issues, (c) the influence of values and beliefs on decisions about these issues, (d) other factors influencing decisions, (e) the use of values and beliefs in responding to these factors, (f) how dealing with these issues affected values and beliefs, and (g) how values and beliefs were used to define roles. Qualitative techniques were used to analyze data: content analysis, Flanagan's (1954) Critical Incident Technique, and interaction schemas. A conceptual model was developed as a framework for analyzing and interpreting interview data. These principals perceived the most complex school issues to originate at the building level, and the most ambiguous at the district level. Principals used educational values and beliefs to clarify goals, guide and evaluate action, and validate judgment. They differed in factors they attempted to influence, goals they established, and problem solving strategies they selected. Understanding the nature and influence of educational values and beliefs on decisions about complex or ambiguous school issues is significant in furthering research on principals' practices, and helping to clarify the kind of vision needed for successful students and effective schools. Note*. "Participants" was selected instead of "subjects" because the researcher was describing phenomena rather than attempting to manipulate variables. By providing information and feedback, these principals participated in the development of a conceptual model and confirmation of the data analysis.
Degree ProgramSpecial Education and Rehabilitation