Standardization of Practice in a High School Social Studies Department: Three Case Studies
AuthorSchippers, Lucas James
Committee ChairRobinson, Paul
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.
AbstractThis study explored high school social studies teachers' perceptions of the degree of standardization of practice within their department. The three participants were members of a social studies department in a large, urban high school. One teacher was the department chair. The school administration had introduced professional learning communities (PLCs) during the year of the study, and the number of department meetings had been reduced to accommodate these PLCs.This was a qualitative study, using interviews to create case studies for each participant. The researcher used a three-part interview design developed by Seidman (2006). Five research questions served as a framework for data analysis.Participants believed teaching practice was not standardized within their department. They identified the following means to increase standardization of practice: develop a departmental philosophy, align the curricula of subject matter groups, share teaching techniques in department meetings, implement common assessments, increase the number of department meetings, make department meetings more professional, establish peer observations, and improve or replace the PLC model.The participants also identified a number of barriers to standardization of practice: the size and complexity of the school, weak leadership by school administrators, poor professional development, time constraints, ineffectiveness of the PLC model, interpersonal conflict within the department, uncertainty regarding the department's future composition, needs and limitations of students, lack of consensus on social studies content and assessment, teacher isolation and autonomy, ambiguity of teaching outcomes, and teacher fatigue.The type of standardization of practice envisioned by the participants reflected their desire for collegial, professional relationships. The methods of standardization they described would preserve teachers' freedom to conduct their practice according to their personal preferences.Barriers to standardization of practice identified by the participants were attributable to structural and cultural elements of the school site and to characteristics of social studies as a school subject. As such, they may prove difficult to overcome.The researcher concluded that modifications to department structures may promote the development of effective micro-PLCs. However, structural modifications should be framed so as to complement department work and teachers' professional standards.
Degree ProgramTeaching & Teacher Education