Educational policy analysis archives

Educational policy analysis archives

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Educational policy analysis archives
Arizona State University
University of South Florida
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Educational policy analysis archives.
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Students and educational productivity / Benjamin Levin.
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1 of 14 Education Policy Analysis Archives Volume 1 Number 5May 4, 1993ISSN 1068-2341A peer-reviewed scholarly electronic journal. Editor: Gene V Glass, Glass@ASU.EDU. College of Edu cation, Arizona State University,Tempe AZ 85287-2411 Copyright 1993, the EDUCATION POLICY ANALYSIS ARCHIVES.Permission is hereby granted to copy any a rticle provided that EDUCATION POLICY ANALYSIS ARCHIVES is credited and copies are not sold.STUDENTS AND EDUCATIONAL PRODUCTIVITY Benjamin Levin University of ManitobaLEVIN@CCU.UMANITOBA.CA Abstract: The literature on productivity in education is ext ensive. The object of this effort is to find a production function--a mathematical expressi on of the relationship between inputs and outputs in education. In this paper, the status of the literature on production functions is reviewed. Most of these approaches have seen school ing as something that is done to students, rather than thinking about education as something t hat students essentially do for themselves. An argument is developed that makes students the key f actors in shaping school outcomes, and therefore a central focus of our thinking about pro ductivity. The paper concludes with suggestions for research and policy.In the past decade educational systems around the w orld have come under sharp criticism because of a feeling that students are simply not l earning enough. Many countries made major efforts to expand educational provision in the 1950 s and 1960s with the idea that more education would lead to many other social goods, such as incr eased economic success, greater social harmony, less poverty, less crime, and the like. Wh ile expenditures on education increased steadily in most industrialized countries through t he 1970s, for at least the last fifteen years there has been contention that the higher investment has not brought the anticipated results (Hallak, 1990). More is spent on education, yet economic and social circumstances do not seem to improve.Of course such an argument is a simplification, and not uncontroversial. One could take issue with every statement within it. For example, there are all sorts of reasons beyond spending levels as to why students and schools perform as they do. In many countries public support for education remains high, and there is not the same s ense of crisis that envelops education policy in the United States. Some critics see the attack on s chooling as a neo-conservative effort to move


2 of 14away from commitments to equity and the public sect or (Boyd, 1991). But those who criticize the neo-conservative agenda in education also have conc erns about the quality and appropriateness of schooling. Regardless of the political solution advocated, there does seem to be widespread concern that systems of mass schooling are not as e ffective as they should or could be. One way of thinking about this problem is to see it as one of productivity. There is a considerable literature on productivity in education, where productivity is taken as the search for patterns of school organization that pro duce the best student outcomes (recognizing that what is "best" is not a self-evident matter). In economic terminology, the effort is to find a production function a mathematical expression of the relationship between inputs and outputs in education. The next section of this paper review s the status of the literature on production functions. Following that, I suggest that most of t hese approaches have seen schooling as something that is done to students, rather than thi nking about education as something that students essentially do for themselves. An argument is developed that makes students the key factors in shaping school outcomes, and therefore a central focus of our thinking about productivity. The paper concludes with suggestions for research and for policy based on the position outlined.Approaches to understanding productivityThe leading writer on production functions in educa tion is probably David Monk of Syracuse University. In his 1990 book, Educational Finance: An Economic Approach, and in a 1992 article in Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, Monk outlines an informed and sophisticated view of the history of educational pr oductivity studies and of the status of thinking in the area. His work is the most complete publishe d analysis of the literature on educational production functions, and stands as the definitive synthesis of present knowledge. Monk's basic view is that production studies of schooling have n ot yielded very much useful knowledge yet, and that they face serious obstacles to doing so, b ut that it is too soon to give up on the attempt. In his book, Monk uses the production function as t he basic element in studying productivity in schools. He defines a production function as a mode l which links conceptually and mathematically outcomes, inputs, and the processes that transform the latter into the former in schools (p. 316). He notes that production function s are important for improving both technical and allocative efficiencies. However, despite their potential benefits, Monk recognizes the major obstacles that face the creation of production func tions for education. Neither outcomes, inputs, nor processes are easily understood.In education, outcomes are multiple, jointly produc ed, and difficult to weigh against one another. The outcomes of education are not all translatable into a standard metric, such as money, which makes it very difficult to give them relative value A further difficulty with outcomes has to do with the level at which they should be measured. At various times researchers have been interested in outcomes of individual students, clas ses of students, schools, school districts, states, nations, ethnic groups, age groups, gender groups, and all sorts of other subsets of the population. Monk is aware of the difficulties in dealing with b oth micro and macro analyses. He concludes that there is no one best approach. "... it is not always the case that microlevel data are better than macrolevel data. The proper level of analysis depends largely on the nat ure of the phenomenon being studied. Some phenomena are district rather than sc hool or classroom phenomena and have effects that are felt throughout entire sc hool districts" (p.327).


3 of 14The inputs of the school itself are relatively easy to recognize--buildings, teachers, textbooks, and the like-although Monk notes difficulties here, t oo, in knowing which inputs do reach students, and in what form.What does it mean to say that a resource flows to a student? A teacher might spend time providing tutorial instruction for a single student But the student may or may not be attentive to the instruction being provided. The student may ".. decline the assistance, either overtly or covertly. In such a case, did the resource flow?" ( p. 328) Time is another significant problem in studying edu cational productivity. It seems reasonable to believe that students will learn at different rates Yet this seemingly innocuous conclusion creates enormous difficulties for analysis, since it means that different resources at different times and in different arrangements may be necessary for differe nt students. Indeed, there could be a unique production function for each child, or even several functions for each child under different circumstances (p.344).Analysts also agree that learning is influenced sig nificantly by factors outside the school. A vast array of home and background variables, Monk indica tes, have been used at various times as part of the specification of the inputs of schooling, no t always accompanied by a strong theoretical rationale for their importance (p. 324). Even when identified, these input variables are difficult to measure. Monk cites intelligence as a particularly important and difficult to resolve instance. Finally, as if these problems were not enough, Monk mentions various technical problems in studying productivity in education. These include t he limited variation among schools in many of their attributes, the possibility that both input a nd outcome variables are collinear, and the likelihood that inputs and outcomes influence each other. Finally, there is the real possibility that certain aspects of education are "anarchistic," by which Monk means that actors are not goal-oriented, so that even if a best way of doing things were known, people would not pay attention to it (p.339).No surprise, then, that Monk raises the possibility that there is no production function for education; that no "systematic process governs the transformation of inputs into outcomes" (p. 342).Many of the same themes are reprised in Monk's 1992 article. He begins by pointing out the current policy push towards what he calls "outcomes as standards" -the idea that educational outcomes can be improved by setting and enforcing h igher standards. He notes that there is a paradox between pessimistic assessments of producti vity research in education and the growing drive towards improving productivity, which require s "a nontrivial store of knowledge regarding the ability of state, district, and school official s to enhance productivity" (1992, p.307). Monk's view is that "...the underlying model of education productivity is inadequate and has not evolved much.... The weakness of the conceptualization give s rise to much of the policymaking frustration." (p. 308) In particular, Monk argues that education productiv ity research has failed to consider the ways in which production in education is different from oth er kinds of production. For example, Monk notes that some outcomes of schools are also inputs to later production (e.g., knowledge gained in primary school is an input to learning in second ary school). He points out that many of the most important inputs in education, such as family and peer influences, are not purchased and are


4 of 14difficult to account for. Most relevant to this dis cussion, he acknowledges that "student time and effort are central ingredients in education product ion" (p. 315). Monk then distinguishes between two possible strate gies. One assumes that there is no "tractable" production function for education, so t hat central authorities cannot improve outcomes through a standard set of practices. The s econd approach retains faith in the existence of a production-function, with "the outcomes-as-sta ndards strategy as a new means of gaining insight into the function's properties" (p. 316). M onk's discussion of the policy implications of these two alternatives is interesting, but will not be recapitulated here. After examining the alternatives he concludes "...(a) it is premature to conclude that the produc tion function lacks meaning within education contexts; (b) ...approaches to the outcom es-as-standards policy-making response have merit and involve increased efforts t o monitor and make sense of the experimentation that occurs; and (c) the embrace of the outcomes-as-standards response ought not to crowd out alternative, more d eductively driven strategies." (p. 320) Monk goes on to advocate the study of productivity through looking at the properties of classrooms. This proposal is based partly on the be lief that teachers will use different instructional approaches with different classes of students. He discusses the ways in which these responses by teachers might occur depending on the students, and suggests that teachers may have individual patterns of adjustment that could b e studied and defined in terms of their impact. Educational production and the role of studentsMonk's work provides a good review of what has been done in the area of productivity research in education, and useful lenses for viewing the val ue of the work and possible directions for its development. He draws our attention particularly to weaknesses in the way in which the idea of educational process has been conceived. I want to s uggest that the study of productivity in education has been greatly hampered by underestimat ing the central role played by students in generating educational outcomes. A better understan ding of productivity in education requires much more attention to what students think and do.The idea of a production function for education dep ends, of course, on seeing education as being a production process, which means that inputs are t ransformed into outputs in a standard way. The essential exemplar of a production relationship is the factory, in which raw materials are turned into finished products through various produ ction processes. One can easily recognize the powerful role that the metaphor of the factory play s in much of the current policy conversation around schooling.There may be, however, a fundamental problem with t he production metaphor when applied to schooling. In a school, it is not evident what (or who) the raw materials are, nor who is doing the producing, nor what the product is. All of these pr oblems are illustrated clearly when we consider the role of students in education.One way of thinking about the issue is to ask wheth er students are raw materials being processed, or whether they are, as some more recent formulatio ns have it, the workers doing the producing. Production function studies tend to slide over this distinction, treating students sometimes as producers but more often as materials. Students are seen as producers to the extent that issues such as their motivation and effort are taken into account. Yet they are seen as materials to the


5 of 14extent that studies focus on the antecedents of stu dents, much as we might want to ensure that a certain quality of steel went into the manufacture of cars. Moreover, an implicit assumption in most of the work is that schooling is something don e to students--that adults organize schooling to produce certain outcomes. Interest in students i s chiefly a matter of how well our efforts have succeeded.This stance is also visible in much of the research on school processes, including studies that purportedly focus on students. For example, Merlin Wittrock, reviewing research on students' thought processes in the Third Handbook of Research on Teaching, noted that "...we must know and understand students' perceptions and previously learned strategies in order to teach a new strategy, and to understand how students will respo nd to it" (1986, p. 301). Yet the chapter has very little to say about how students think. Most o f it reviews studies in which experimenters tried various manipulations to see what their outco mes would be. Learning directly from students about their thinking is essentially absent. In the same volume, in an otherwise valuable discussion of models of thinking about teaching, Le e Shulman (1986) provided almost no comment on the importance of students' understandin gs and intentions in affecting both teaching and learning.Many of the problems of production studies hinge on the role of students; whether they are producers or materials. As soon as students are vie wed as individuals with unique capacities and interests, the problems of specifying a production relationship in schools become enormous, as Monk points out. Imagine a factory in which the raw materials had minds of their own, and could make autonomous decisions about whether they would be part of whatever was being produced. Just as one was about to weld a piece of metal to b e the roof of a car, the part one had in hand would announce its unwillingness to play the assign ed role, and its desire instead to be part of an art gallery instead of part of a car, or to become a piece of cloth instead of a piece of metal. A change in welding technique might work for those pi eces of metal willing to undergo it, but would hardly solve the problem.The analogy may seem silly, but this is what happen s in schools. Students must do the learning; there is no way around this fact. Whatever schools provide, whatever teachers do, in the end it is the student who must use the resources to acquire s kills and knowledge. As Fenstermacher pointed out (1990) in comparing teaching to profess ions such as medicine or law, education is not something we do to people, but something that p eople do for themselves, assisted, we hope, by the efforts of teachers. Students play a far mor e complicated role than that of raw materials. The idea of the student as worker seems more promis ing than that of the student as material to be worked on, since it acknowledges that learning is s omething that students do. But it too has problems as an analogy. In economic processes worke rs are doing something to some material or for someone else. Although students often do think of schooling in this sense, as doing something for their teachers or their parents, the concept of education is centrally concerned about what happens to learners, not what happens to others around them. If students are the workers, then they are working on themselves rather than on external materials. These are large differences from a standard product ion model or even from production in other public service activities such as health care. Stud ents do not stand in relation to schools either as raw materials to be processed or as workers doing t he processing. Education is a unique kind of production because it requires learners to create k nowledge and meaning in the context of their own lives. The key aspect of social situations such as schooling, as has often been pointed out by theorists, is that humans are intentional; they can alter their actions according to their developing understanding of a given situation. This understand ing is best captured in the phenomenological


6 of 14sociology of Alfred Schutz (1967, 1970), who wrote extensively about human intention and action and their development through a person's lif e experiences. Schutz's work, and that of others in the same vein (e.g., Natanson, 1970; Gree ne, 1988), illustrates the ways in which people make sense of their world, and how these relevances shift constantly as their ideas and situations change.Every teacher knows this, of course. Every teacher realizes that what happens in a class is fundamentally dependent on who the students are, ho w they make sense of the world, and what they want or do not want to do. Students are consta ntly making decisions about the amount of effort, attention and interest they will put into t heir school work. They decide to come to school or not, to pay attention in class or not, to take t he material seriously or not, to focus on grades or not (Doyle, 1986). These decisions, we may hope, ar e not entirely independent of what schools and teachers do. Neither are they determined by wha t happens in schools. We may arrange schooling on the basis of relatively standard treat ment of all, but every educator recognizes that the best laid plans may, and often do, come to noth ing in the face of students with different agendas.It is not merely that students are shaped by their backgrounds or abilities, either, important though these may be. For every student, background, ability and a variety of other life circumstances produce a unique biography, a unique personality, and a unique way of responding to the world. These elements are expressed in schoo l, as they are in every other aspect of a person's life.Some examplesMany studies illustrate clearly the influences that shape students' approach to schooling and the crucial role that students play in creating educati onal outcomes. Examining a few studies will illustrate the centrality and dynamics of students' roles. Paul Willis's classic study of working class boys i n Britain, Learning to Labour, shows how "the lads" develop their understanding of schooling as a result of family and social class background and peer culture, and how this understanding influe nces their behavior in school. Willis's "lads" also distinguish themselves from other groups withi n the school, and draw much of their identity from their oppositional behavior. They set out to b e disruptive, to aggravate teachers and to avoid doing what the school wants. For teachers they are intractably difficult. Though their views and behavior may not fit the norms of the school, these boys do have knowledge about themselves and the world, and the ability to apply that knowle dge when it seems appropriate to them to do so. Their identification of themselves as working c lass, with a particular orientation both to school and work, sets up various tensions and parad oxes in their world which Willis describes. Making the Difference (Connell, Ashenden, Kessler and Dowsett, 1982), pro vides an extended portrait of secondary students in Australian public and private schools. The study shows how, for each student, a particular combination of family, p ersonality, life experience and school leads students to a way of thinking about schooling and b ehaving in school. Even where class backgrounds are similar, some students end up relat ively committed to schooling, while others do not -perhaps because of parents, or friends, or a teacher, or some event that occurred. The range of circumstances that can have important impacts on students' views and choices is practically infinite. Moreover, Connell et al. point out that 'being a good student' is a constructed fact, not a given", so that students' commitment to school is subject to change over the years, sometimes to radical mutation" (p.105). Schools are, in these au thors' view, "active and influential producers of educational outcomes" but in a dynamic relationship with students and their families (p.187).


7 of 14A third study, Mike Rose's Lives on the Boundary (1989), deals with adult learners. Rose tells stories of his own life growing up in South Los Ang eles, and those of many of the learners he has since encountered in his work -Hispanics from Eas t Los Angeles, Vietnam veterans, Asian immigrants. He illustrates vividly the ways in whic h these people had come to the particular point at which he met them and their incredibly div erse ideas about and approaches to learning. The learners he describes saw and were motivated by quite different things. Rose writes, "...the challenge that has always faced American ed ucation... is how to create both the social and cognitive means to enable a diverse citizenry to develop their ability. It is an astounding challenge: the complex and wren ching struggle to actualize the potential not only of the privileged but, too, of t hose who have lived here for a long time generating a culture outside the mainstream an d those who... immigrated with cultural traditions of their own. This painful but generative mix of language and story can result in clash and dislocation in our co mmunities, but it also gives rise to new speech, new stories, and once we appreciate the richness of it, new invitations to literacy" (p. 226). What these three books have in common (and many oth ers could be cited that support the same view) is a focus on the ways in which students play a key role in creating school outcomes through a dynamic process of understanding and acti ng. Here is what Robert Coles concluded after twenty ye ars of studying children's lives and actions. He is writing about a youth in Georgia in 1960 who, much to the boy's own surprise, ended up befriending the first two black students in his sch ool, after beginning by jeering and cursing them. That youth's "...willingness to suggest the complexity of things contrasts, alas, with the categorical assurance of some theorists who have mo ral development all figured out, as if life were a matter of neatly arranged academi c hurdles, with grades given along the way. Here was a young person with a story ... t he circumstances that make for such a difference in our lives, the accidents, the incidents that come along out of nowhere, it seems. Fate is the word other generatio ns used, and destiny but of course, to accept what such words imply about this life takes matters out of the hands of those of us who want control, who want to be able to predict all, explain all" (1986, pp. 28-29). Some might suggest that this sort of view of human life and human learning makes it impossible to talk about productivity in education. Most of th e commentary that emphasizes human intentionality comes from a pedagogical or philosop hical orientation far from that of productivity studies (e.g., Greene, 1988). Monk seems to suggest that if one sees each schooling situation as unique, one is condemned to a never-ending process of experimenting without much learning. Yet this assessment seems unduly pessimistic. Our i nability to pin down a phenomenon precisely and entirely does not mean that we have learned not hing. Without entering the long-standing philosophical debate about what knowledge is and wh ether and how it can be accumulated, we can simply observe that people behave as if they we re learning even when they are not sure of just what they have learned, or how they have learn ed it. We can and do, as Monk recognizes in discussing what he calls the "quasi-but unknown pro duction function," draw conclusions based on our study and our experience even if their warra nt in evidence is far from total. It is not reasonable to claim that if we do not know everythi ng then we know nothing. We may really have no choice except to assume that we can make order out of the world no


8 of 14matter how difficult it may seem. Robert Coles, aft er making his comment about fate and circumstance, goes on to say that even so one doesn 't have to abandon all efforts to understand moral life theoretically (p. 30). Others have writt en eloquently about the same dilemmas in our understanding of other parts of the social world (e .g., Dror, 1986; Inbar, 1992). The same it true of our understanding of how education occurs. Putti ng students at the center of our thinking about schools, even if we acknowledge all the uncer tainty and individuality described by Willis, Connell et al and Rose, does not mean throwing up o ur hands in despair and giving up on improving education. Instead, we can think through the implications for both policy and research of seeing students as, uniquely, both the producers and the product of their education. Policy implications of putting students firstIf what students do and think is central to educati on, then it must also be central to the way schooling is organized. Yet that is far from being the case. Most of the policy attention about schools focuses on such matters as curriculum, teac hers, school organization, or governance. Policies in these areas are presumed, almost unthin kingly, to yield changes in what students do, think, or learn.Consider various sides of the debate over restructu ring schooling. One approach has been what Fullan (1991) calls the "intensification" approach -stricter curriculum requirements, closer supervision of teachers and students, external exam inations, and so on. Here the assumption is that teachers and administrators will be tougher on students, and that students will respond to the changes by intensifying their own efforts at school The strategy could be phrased as one of "making them learn whether they want to or not". Pu t this way, of course, it is clearly unworkable, since we have abundant evidence that th ough we may be able to influence, we cannot control what students learn. If we could, pr esumably we would already have taken steps to make sure all students learned what we wanted them to. As soon as we see students as both workers and product, clearly a strategy of intensif ication will not, by itself, be successful, since i t does not take into account the power and range of s tudents' ideas and motivations. The main alternative policy currently being propose d is the "professionalization" approach, in which more authority is to be given to teachers to take the steps they see as most desirable. In some versions authority is moved to school communit ies which include teachers, parents, and sometimes students (Zeichner, 1992). But if we thin k of students as central, then this strategy too seems unlikely to succeed. It assumes that teachers know what to do to create more learning, and that they will do so if given the authority. Neithe r assumption seems credible. It is reasonable to think that most teachers have a real concern about students and their welfare. It is not reasonable to think that all teachers have a tremendous store of knowledge about how to educate that they are waiting to unleash with dramatic effect as soon as they are freed from the shackles of bureaucratic restrictions. Nor is it reasonable to think that teachers will, any more than any other occupational group, always recognize the best inter ests of students or have those interests at heart when they conflict with teachers' own ideas, needs and interests. If neither intensification nor professionalization is a good strategy given a belief in students as the center of education, what policy alternatives d o we have? Many can be derived from available evidence about how people live and learn; two examples will suffice to illustrate the sorts of changes in policy and organization that fo llow. Perhaps most importantly, we would need to pay much more attention to the issue of motivation. If students are the producers of their own learning then their motivation is absolutely critical. There is a substantial literature on motivation, bo th in education and in psychology (e.g., Ames &


9 of 14Ames, 1984, 1989; Deci & Ryan, 1985; Hastings & Sch wieso, 1987). Various strategies for the organization of schooling and teaching have been ad vanced based on this research. Nolen and Nicholls (in press), in reviewing the literature, c ome to the conclusion that the most effective strategies have to do with treating students as cap able persons, capitalizing on their knowledge and interests, and involving students in determinin g goals and methods of learning. Berliner (1989) suggested that classrooms where different ki nds of tasks are occurring simultaneously provide more ways for students to demonstrate abili ty and feel competent (p. 323). DeCharms (1984, p. 306-307) suggested that teachers need to provide students with choices and encourage "responsible pupil-influence attempts and independe nt activity", with students learning gradually to make more and larger choices.Covington (1992) went further, suggesting that the entire school curriculum should be organized around what he calls "serious games" based on the a nalysis of "discovered problems" (p. 224), and that students should be provided with "opportun ities ... to produce something of merit in the real world" (p. 236). Many other similar suggestion s could be cited (Glynn, 1985; Grolnick & Ryan, 1987).Second-order consequences are immediately apparent. Working to motivate students would seem necessarily to require that their ideas and interes ts be taken seriously, that they be treated with respect, that they have significant influence (whic h is not to say total control) over what they study, how they study, and when they study. There w ould need to be much less rigidity and hierarchy in the organization of schooling. We migh t begin by applying to students the various assertions now being promoted about the appropriate treatment of teachers -as persons who need to be autonomous but in a collegial setting, w ho need to exercise more influence over their work, who should not arbitrarily be assigned tasks or be evaluated without their participation (e.g., Lieberman & Miller, 1990; Rosenholtz, 1985). If teachers would be better workers given such conditions, would not the same be true of stud ents? These suggestions may seem so obvious as to require no mention, yet they are not strategies that are common in schools, as shown by a large body of evidence on the dynamics of classrooms (e.g., Cullingford, 1981; Goodlad, 1983; Stahl, 199 2). And somehow when the research is translated into practitioner publications, the stre ss on student autonomy is also lost. In 1985 Jack Frymier wrote a brief discussion of motivation for Kappa Delta Pi ; of the 13 suggestions he made to teachers about increasing motivation, only one dealt with increasing the role of students. Similarly, in a 1988 NASSP publication Grossnickle and Thiel stressed that teachers should work to make classes interesting to students, but say al most nothing about involving students in this effort. Their only mention of a student role is a b rief suggestion to "utilize student input... when appropriate" (1988, p. 6). Of their 12 suggestions about schoolwide efforts to increase motivation, not one involves students' being given a more active role. These ideas do not imply a return to the idea (seld om honored in practice) of schools in which students do whatever they want. Idealizing the inte ntions and motivations of students is no more reasonable than doing the same for teachers or admi nistrators. Instead, a hard-nosed interest in productivity in education--in having students learn more--leads to the requirement that students' ideas, interests and preferences be accorded much m ore importance than they currently are in the organization of schools and classrooms. Educators w ould engage in debate with students about what was worth doing and why in itself an importa nt learning rather than issuing orders and enforcing them with behavioral sanctions. No party would be in charge; all parties would have to pay attention to the ideas and wishes of others, an d to justify their own ideas through giving reasons and defending opinions. (These ideas are de veloped in more detail in another paper which is currently under review for publication.)


10 of 14A second example has to do with the use of time in schools. As bureaucratic organizations schools proceed on the basis of standardized alloca tions of time. A day is the same length every day; so is a class, particularly in secondary schoo ls. Breaks happen at preordained times. A course requires so many hours of classroom time. It is hardly original to point out that these practices fly in the face of knowledge about learni ng. Less often noted is that only certain kinds of time "count" in schools. It is assumed that lear ning is taking place only when students are in a class or an assigned activity with a teacher. What students may be doing or learning while at home, on the playground, in a library, riding the b us, at work, or in other situations is, typically, seen as irrelevant. Yet we know that learning is po werfully affected by what happens to students in their homes or at their work or with their frien ds. There is no reason in principle why the use of time in schools could not be made much more flexible. There is no reason in principle why every one must be doing the same thing at the same time. At the simplest level, why must all students have recess at the same time every day, regardless of what is happening in their classroom? Why must all classes in secondary schools be the same length? A colleague of mine recently made a considerable impact on the extent of out-of-school activities in a high school by settin g aside certain days for field trips. Teachers, who no longer had to go through extensive negotiati ons to take students out of colleagues' classes, began to include more field trips into the ir programs. More dramatic changes in use of time can also be co nsidered. It would be quite possible -highly desirable -to see students' entire lives as educa tional experiences, and try to integrate what they do out of school with what they do in school. Stude nts' part-time work, often seen as an interference with their schooling, could become an essential part of the curriculum, instantly expanding the amount of time students' were spendin g on their education. The possibilities for different uses of time are enormous.Clearly these ideas are only sketched out here in a general way. Their implementation would doubtless be fraught with the usual difficulties be setting institutional change. Another paper would be required to take up these questions in det ail; here I will simply say that seeing the obstacles is not a reason to abandon a course we be lieve to be right. Implications for researchIf we need to take action in schools to put student s in a more central role, then it is equally important to direct research at the same questions. A first requirement is simply to learn more about how students experience schooling; how they t hink about and organize their work as learners. There is surprisingly little research tha t asks directly about these issues. Studies such as Cullingford's (1981) are all too rare, even though they cast considerable insight into students' understanding of and approach to schooling. Not onl y are such general inquires needed, but we could benefit from learning more about how students perceive many aspects of schooling, including various instructional techniques, discipl inary practices, organizational attributes, and so on. As has been noted, much of the research that de als with students is conceived and conducted from the point of view of educators trying to shape students' actions rather than from the standpoint of the students themselves.Moving to research that falls more closely in the e conomic domain, it would be highly relevant to study the impact of experimenting with the kinds of changes that are called for in the literature on motivation cited earlier. Monk's 1992 article calls for experimentation as a means of studying productivity. We have already noted that most of th e measures currently proposed for study, however, have little to do with altering the role o f students. Researchers might well want to study


11 of 14the differential impact of settings that are more a nd less coercive in their treatment of students. The existing differences between early childhood se ttings and those of older students provide one way to study these differences.ConclusionSeeing students as the central element in education al productivity offers a way to combine the agendas of conservative critics of education and of liberal reformers. It provides a route with clear policy implications and with the promise -o pen to careful and systematic evaluation -of improving the results of schooling. It seems an obv ious approach, yet has received relatively little attention. Efforts to conduct schooling as if stude nts really mattered ought to have an important place on the policy and research agenda. REFERENCES Ames, R. & Ames, C. (Eds.). (1984). Research on Mot ivation in Education, Vol. 1: Student Motivation. San Diego: Academic Press.Ames, R. & Ames, C. (Eds.). (1989). Research on Mot ivation in Education, Vol. 3: Goals and Cognitions. San Diego: Academic Press.Berliner, D. (1989). Furthering our understanding o f motivation and environments. In R. Ames & C. Ames (Eds.), Research on Motivation in Education Vol. 3: Goals and Cognitions (pp. 317-342). San Diego: Academic Press.Boyd, W.L. (1991). The power of paradigms. In R. O' Reilly & C. Lautar (Eds.), Policy Research and Development in Canadian Education (pp. 7-29). C algary: University of Calgary Press. Coles, R. (1986). The Moral Life of Children. New Y ork: Atlantic Monthly Press. Connell, R.W., Ashendon, D.J., Kessler, S., & Dowse tt, G. (1982). Making the Difference. Sydney: George Allen and Unwin.Covington, M. (1992). Making the Grade: A Self Wort h Perspective on Motivation and School Reform. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Cullingford, C. (1991). The Inner World of the Scho ol: Children's Ideas About Schools. London: Cassell.deCharms, R. (1984). Motivation enhancement in educ ational settings. In R. Ames & C. Ames (Eds.), Research on Motivation in Education, Vol. 3 : Student Motivation (pp. 275-313). San Diego: Academic Press.Deci, E. & Ryan, R. (1985). Intrinsic Motivation an d Selfdetermination in Human Behavior. New York: Plenum.Doyle, W. (1986). Classroom organization and manage ment. In M. Wittrock, (Ed.), Third Handbook of Research on Teaching (pp. 392-431). New York: Macmillan. Dror, Y. (1986). Policymaking Under Adversity. New York: Transaction Books. Fenstermacher, G. (1990). Some considerations on te aching as a moral profession. In J. Goodlad, R. Soder, K. Sirotnik,(eds.) The Moral Dimensions o f Teaching. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.


12 of 14Fullan, M. (1991). The New Meaning of Educational C hange. New York: Teachers College Press/ OISE Press.Frymier, J. (1985). Motivation to Learn. West Lafay ette, IN: Kappa Delta Pi. Glynn, T. (1985). Contexts for independent learning Educational Psychology, 5(1), 5-15. Goodlad, J. (1984). A Place Called School. New York : McGraw-Hill. Greene, M. (1988). The Dialectic of Freedom. New Yo rk: Teachers College Press. Grolnick, W. & Ryan, R. (1987). Autonomy support in education: Creating the facilitating environment. In N. Hastings & J. Schwieso (Eds.), N ew Directions in Educational Psychology, 2: Behavior and Motivation in the Classroom. East Lewe s: Falmer Press. Grossnickle, D. & Thiel, W. (1988). Promoting Effec tive Student Motivation in the School Classroom. Reston, VA: NASSP.Hallak, J. (1990). Investing in the Future: Setting Educational Priorities in the Developing World. Paris: International Institute for Education al Planning. Hastings, N. & Schwieso, J. (Eds.). (1987). New Dir ections in Educational Psychology, 2: Behavior and Motivation in the Classroom. East Lewe s: Falmer Press. Inbar, D. (1992). Planning for choice: The educatio nal sociotechnological challenge of the future. Educational Policy, 6(1), 3-18.Lieberman, A. & Miller, L. (1990). Teacher developm ent in professional practice schools. Teachers College Record, 92, 106-122.Monk, D. (1990). Educational Finance: An Economic A pproach. New York: McGraw-Hill. Monk, D. (1992). Education productivity research: A n update and assessment of its role in education finance reform. Educational Evaluation an d Policy Analysis, 14(4), 307-332. Natanson, M. (1970). The Journeying Self. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley. Nolen, S. & Nicholls, J. (In press). A place to beg in (again) in research on student motivation: Teachers' beliefs. Journal of Teaching and Teacher Education. Rose, M. (1990). Lives on the Boundary. New York: F ree Press. Schutz, A. (1967). The Phenomenology of the Social World. Chicago: Northwestern University Press.Schutz, A. (1970). Reflections on the Problem of Re levance. New Haven: Yale University Press. Shulman, L. (1986). Paradigms of research programs in the study of teaching: A contemporary perspective. In M. Wittrock (Ed.), Third Handbook o f Research on Teaching. New York: Macmillan. 3-36.Stahl, A. (1992). Personal and cultural factors int erfering with the effective use of individual and group learning methods. The Journal of Educational Thought, 26(1), 22-32.


13 of 14 Willis, P. (1977). Learning to Labour. Westmead, En gland: Saxon House. Wittrock, M. (1986). Students' thought processes. I n M. Wittrock (Ed.), Third Handbook of Research on Teaching. New York: Macmillan. 297-314.Zeichner, K. (1991). Contradictions and tensions in the professionalization of teaching and the democratization of schools. Teachers College Record 92(3) 363-378.Copyright 1993 by the Education Policy Analysis ArchivesEPAA can be accessed either by visiting one of its seve ral archived forms or by subscribing to the LISTSERV known as EPAA at (To sub scribe, send an email letter to whose sole contents are SUB EPAA y our-name.) As articles are published by the Archives they are sent immediately to the EPAA subscribers and simultaneously archived in three forms. Articles are archived on EPAA as individual files under the name of the author a nd the Volume and article number. For example, the article by Stephen Kemmis in Volume 1, Number 1 of the Archives can be retrieved by sending an e-mail letter to LISTSERV@a and making the single line in the letter rea d GET KEMMIS V1N1 F=MAIL. For a table of contents of the entire ARCHIVES, send the following e-mail message to INDEX EPAA F=MAIL, tha t is, send an e-mail letter and make its single line read INDEX EPAA F=MAIL.The World Wide Web address for the Education Policy Analysis Archives is Education Policy Analysis Archives are "gophered" at To receive a publication guide for submitting artic les, see the EPAA World Wide Web site or send an e-mail letter to and include the single l ine GET EPAA PUBGUIDE F=MAIL. It will be sent to you by return e-mail. General questions about ap propriateness of topics or particular articles may be addressed to the Editor, Gene V Glass, Glass@asu.ed u or reach him at College of Education, Arizona Sta te University, Tempe, AZ 85287-2411. (602-965-2692)Editorial Board John CovaleskieSyracuse UniversityAndrew Coulson Alan Davis University of Colorado--DenverMark E. Thomas F. Green Syracuse Alison I. Arlen Gullickson Ernest R. Aimee Craig B. Howley u56e3@wvnvm.bitnet William Richard M. Jaeger Benjamin Thomas


14 of 14Dewayne Mary P. Les Susan Bobbitt Anne L. Hugh G. Richard C. Anthony G. Rud Dennis Jay Robert Robert T.


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