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Educational policy analysis archives
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1 of 21 Education Policy Analysis Archives Volume 10 Number 21April 16, 2002ISSN 1068-2341 A peer-reviewed scholarly journal Editor: Gene V Glass College of Education Arizona State University Copyright 2002, the EDUCATION POLICY ANALYSIS ARCHIVES Permission is hereby granted to copy any article if EPAA is credited and copies are not sold. Articles appearing in EPAA are abstracted in the Current Index to Journals in Education by the ERIC Clearinghouse on Assessment and Evaluation and are permanently archived in Resources in Education .The Possibility of Reform: Micropolitics in Higher Education Susan Haag Arizona State University Mary Lee Smith Arizona State UniversityCitation: Haag, S. & Smith, M. L. (2002, April 16). The possibility of reform: Micropolitics in higher education. Education Policy Analysis Archives 10 (21). Retrieved [date] from purpose of this case study was to examine the r estructuring of an institution of higher education's teacher preparati on program and to assess the possibility for systemic reform. Althou gh teacher education represents a vital link in not only the educational system but in curricular reform, the increased expectations for educational reform made this institution unavoidably more political. These cond itions meant that the study of micropolitics was critical to understandin g how organizations change or fail to initiate change. Any effort to r eform an organization requires examination of the reform effort's underly ing assumptions, social and historical context for the reform, and h ow reform is congruent


2 of 21with the values, ideologies, and goals of the const ituents. This case will serve those critiquing reform and also takes the ex tant K-12 micropolitical research into the heretofore unstudi ed realm of higher education therefore impacting reform at the post se condary level. Schools are vulnerable to a host of powerful extern al and internal forces. They exist in a vortex of government mandates, soci al and economic pressures, and conflicting ideologies associated wi th administrators, faculty, and students. Efforts to reform school are confounded by competing political agendas. At the very least, re form is an opportunity for political action by people in power. While lit erature regarding effective schools touts strong leadership and share d values, accomplishing school reform continues to remain pro blematic. Despite the widespread interest and infusion of resources f or restructuring teacher education, the history of educational refor m shows that initiatives have often failed. The study began with the micro political hypothesis that the educational system comprises diverse const ituencies with differing ideologies regarding schooling. Qualitat ive methodology was employed to portray intra-organizational processes, to provide concrete depiction of detail, and to study social change. Mi cropolitics and symbolic interactionism, the theoretical frameworks for the study, influenced the design and production of research an d functioned as the interpretive focus. The study followed a multi meth od approach to understand meanings in context and to interpret the se patterns in light of broader contexts. We employed the following multip le methods to generate a credible account of constituent ideologi es: 23 semi-structured interviews, document review, and observational data Data reveal fundamental differences in the images of five const ituencies in these areas: curriculum, teachers, pupils, and teacher ed ucation and support the micropolitical assertion that systemic reform is un obtainable. The systemic reform movement rests on several relat ed ideas about the nature of public education and its relation to policy. First, it vi ews school organization as a complex whole, in that it is made up of many connecting par ts, for example, teacher training, professional development, state curriculum framewor ks, district organization, and so on. The movement views the system as hierarchical, in that the flow of authority and communication is from the top to the bottom and fai rly standard throughout its various levels and parts. It views the dynamics of the sys tem as more or less rational. All the parts must work together toward the same ends for c hange to occur (O'Day & Smith, 1993; Salamon & Thompson, 1973). Policies issued f rom legitimate authority are transmitted through the system to those who impleme nt them in relatively predictable and ordered ways. When experience contradicts this hypothesis, one can appeal to the existence of organizational forms, rules, tradition s, and contradictory policies in the system. For example, state policies that mean to ch ange instruction toward constructivism by mandating performance assessments rather than standardized tests may run into certification rules that mandate instr uction in phonics. If the state could only clear up the formal incoherence, it could more easily succeed in its efforts to reform schools, according to this theory.The theory of micropolitics views the educational e nterprise and efforts to change it in


3 of 21quite different ways. Rather than assuming a ratio nal, ordered, and unitary system, micropolitics assumes that any complex organization comprises several constituencies that contend with each other over resources, power, interests, and alternative definitions of the situation, such as interpretations about goa ls, means, and even institutional identities (Ball, 1987; Blase, 1991, 1997; Hoyle, 1 999; and Scribner & Layton, 1995). Conflict and competition are more likely to charact erize educational organizations than shared visions and collaboration because schools ar e vulnerable to a host of powerful external and internal forces. They exist in a vort ex of government mandates, social and economic pressures, and conflicting ideologies asso ciated with administrators, faculty, and students. Political organization is possible i n "loosely coupled" organizations like schools because they are arenas of struggle between a mandated singular way of doing things and new initiatives designed to fix the old ways (Cohen & March, 1974; Noblit, Berry & Dempsey, 1991). At the very least, reform is a political process and an opportunity for political action by people in power While literature regarding effective schools touts strong leadership and shared values, accomplishing school reform remains problematic.According to Ball (1987), policy researchers must a ttend to the constituencies, their interests, and the dynamics among them, to understa nd how organizations change or fail to change. Efforts to reform organizations must be examined in terms of underlying assumptions, social and historical contexts, and th e values, ideologies, and goals of vested constituent groups. Micropolitical reform addresses the divergent inter ests of participants involved in change and recognizes ideological disputes, loss an d gain, coalition building, and coordinated opposition. Reform is a cultural pheno menon and subject to the constraints of power distribution; change is not something done to people and organizations, but is an expected byproduct in social systems fragmented by diverse ideologies (Ball, 1987). Micropolitics takes seriously the responses of the players in the organization and places reform within the interactive, political arena. In contrast, systemic reform starts with the behavior of the institutional actors without acknow ledging their interpretation of change.The Present StudyThis present study examines competing views of inst itutions and their reform by the empirical study of a single case, the efforts of a College of Education (COE) to reform its undergraduate teacher preparation program. Thi s case of local reform at a large urban university takes place within a broader context of nation-wide reform and restructuring. Teacher education is a primary concern in current r estructuring efforts because it is a vital link in the educational system. However, des pite the widespread interest and infusion of resources for restructuring teacher edu cation, the history of educational reform shows that initiatives have often failed. T hough administrators have often interpreted poor outcomes as evidence that individu als (i.e., teachers) fail to comply with reform agendas, evidence from this and earlier case s suggests that intra-organizational processes reflect micropolitical phenomena, not a l ack of teachers' professional integrity (Ball, 1987; Blase, 1991; Noblit, Berry, & Dempsey, 1991). The major focus of this study is the impact of micropolitics on the possibi lity and success of the reform initiative in higher education. From the micropolitical persp ective, reformers and researchers alike must examine internal processes that facilita te or impede change. Thus, our primary goal was to achieve a deeper understanding of the ideologies, goals, and values of each major teacher education constituency in reg ard to curriculum, teachers, pupils,


4 of 21and teacher education.The CaseWhy this case? We used this case because teacher p reparation is an essential link in the educational system and reform, yet the COE Teacher Preparation program was in crisis due to reform efforts. The increased expectations for reform rendered this institution and its communities more political (West, 1999). T hrough the lens of micropolitics, we examine these conflicting views of institutions and their reform in order to understand how organizations change. To accomplish this goal, we focus primarily on the culture within the COE, that is, on intra-organizational pr ocesses. As Ragin (1992) pointed out, "It is impossible to d o research in a conceptual vacuum because the empirical world is limitless in detail and complexity. We make sense of its infinity by limiting it with our ideas" (p. 217). Evidence and ideas are mutually dependent; we transform evidence into results with the aid of ideas and make sense of theoretical ideas by linking them to empirical evid ence. Cases are not empirical units of theoretical categories, but are the products of bas ic research operations. A case provides texture to the space between theory and empirical e vidence. This case study employs an interpretive approach to qualitative methodology us ing micropolitics and symbolic interactionism as conceptual frameworks.To address research issues, we examined the efforts of a major university's College of Education to reform its Teacher Preparation Program (TP, for short). The first year of the TP program was designed to enable students to p lan, implement, and evaluate instructional activities in a variety of discipline s. TP students spent at least four hours a week in a school environment the first semester and six hours a week during the second and third semesters. Students enrolled in methods classes specialized in elementary, early childhood, secondary, special, or bilingual e ducation during the third semester. They participated in a required field experience ea ch semester of the program prior to student teaching, which was completed during the fo urth semester of the program. The teacher education program graduated approximately 5 00 students a year, each with a certification in elementary, secondary, and special education. The study originated during the attempted restructu ring of the teacher preparation program in the College of Education. Efforts to re invent teacher education began by involving external and internal communities. The d ean scheduled meetings, focus groups, and retreats to identify discrepancies betw een current teacher preparation and desired practices. He called for efforts to streng then preservice teachers' pedagogical knowledge, to increase collaboration between the un iversity and local schools, and to educate preservice teachers to better serve the nee ds of an increasingly culturally diverse student population.During COE meetings, faculty, staff, and students a ssociated with teacher education were invited to participate in the creation of a sh ared vision. Faculty and staff were involved in the process to discuss concerns and to propose reform efforts; however, different levels of interest in the reform efforts were evident. While some faculty members talked of incremental improvement of the ex isting program, others imagined a more radical restructuring and still others acted o n that idea by developing and implementing an alternative teacher preparation pro gram. During a faculty and administrative retreat focusing on reform, we disco vered political activity among


5 of 21participants and noticed diverse emotions and level s of interest (e.g., resistance, apathy, curiosity, and confusion) when asked to generate a common vision of the college. Data CollectionThis case study follows Erickson's (1986) interpret ive approach and endorses concepts of reality and knowledge consistent with his view. He argues that conceptions of reality cannot be meaningfully separated from the social en vironment in which they occur. In this sense, qualitative research is holistic and ba sed on the notion of context sensitivity. A basic assumption in interpretive theory is that t he formal and informal social systems operate simultaneously. Individuals in everyday li fe interpret actions in terms of both official and unofficial definitions of status and r ole. The task for the researcher then, is to try to understand the way participants constitut e environments for each other in their interactions and to document the social and cultura l organization of the observed events. To accomplish this task, we conducted the research as participant observers. During the initial phase of the study, we attended and observe d restructuring efforts in the College of Education for two years. Previous surveys admin istered to COE alumni, course syllabi, and other relevant COE documents were also examined. One author held dual roles in the College of Education: a graduate stude nt and the Associate Dean's research assistant. As part of her role, she participated i n restructuring meetings, worked with COE administrators to determine an effective evalua tion design, and conducted faculty and alumni interviews. The graduate student's diss ertation chair was also involved in this study and functioned as a principal investigat or. During the second phase of the study, we identified the following five major constituencies that have interests in the teacher e ducation program in the College of Education: (a) Teacher Preparation (TP) faculty in the COE; (b) faculty in the alternative teacher preparation program (ATP) in the COE; (c) t he Department of Education (DOE); (d) the Holmes Group; and (e) principals of schools in which graduates of TP are placed. It was generally accepted that faculty were respons ible for the development and delivery of the curriculum in higher education. The College of Education faculty (TP) therefore comprised the first constituency. Although the TP faculty had constituted the single, dominant teacher preparation program within the col lege for a number of years, an alternative program broke out for the first time in 1993. Faculty who shared a constructivist perspective and similar beliefs abou t learning, teaching, and child development (different from the beliefs of the trad itional program), began a discussion group to explore alternative approaches to teacher preparation. Enabled by a grant, this group established a pilot alternative teacher prepa ration track. College faculty from the alternative teacher education program (ATP) compris ed the second constituency. The state Department of Education (DOE) comprised t he third constituency. As the primary agent certifying teachers, the DOE purporte d to influence teacher preparation programs in state universities. In order to have university institutional recommendations for certification recognized by the state, the university must conform to DOE requirements. The DOE identified the profic iencies that a beginning teacher must meet and expected the colleges and universitie s in the state to develop programs to instill those proficiencies in prospective teachers We chose the Holmes Group, a voluntary association of teacher preparation progra ms in research universities, as the


6 of 21fourth constituency in the study. Founded by a gro up of education deans from such universities, the Holmes Group documents (e.g., Tomorrow's teachers: A report of the Holmes Groups 1986) and guidelines for teacher preparation infl uenced the thinking and discussion of administration of faculty of the college. Unlike many colleges of education, this COE did not participate in the Nati onal Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE), the primary accrediting agency. Thus, the Holmes group functions as the principal voice of the profession of teacher preparation. District principals, the fifth constituency, are the primary employers of teacher preparation graduates. In their role as evaluators of new teac hers, they were judges of the college's finished product.Having established the five constituencies, we desi gned a study, which became phase three. Following Erickson's (1986) advice, we empl oyed multiple methods and generated rich descriptions in order to provide a c redible, internally consistent account of constituent ideologies. We conducted formal and informal interviews, took detailed notes of participant interactions and activities, a nd examined archival data and artifacts. InterviewsWe conducted 23 semi-structured interviews during a one-year period with representatives from the five constituent groups. The interviews were distributed as follows: five interviews each with the TP, ATP, Dep artment of Education, and district principals and three interviews from the Holmes gro up. We chose a semi-structured format, the intent of which was to reveal the multi ple perspectives of members of diverse constituent groups. Through the course of the interviews, we raised questions that would reveal the informants' images of schooli ng, curriculum development, teacher training, and instructional practice. The following are representative of questions we de veloped for individual and group interviews: Describe the type of classroom you believe graduate s of teacher preparation programs should be able to organize. 1. Describe the type of classroom management philosoph y you believe graduates of teacher preparation programs should be able to impl ement. 2. Describe the type of classroom materials you believ e graduates of teacher preparation programs should be able to select and u se. 3. Describe the type of knowledge you believe graduate s should have about the community served by the school. 4. Describe the kind of knowledge you believe graduate s should have about working with pupils from different language and ethnic grou ps. 5. Describe the kind of knowledge you believe graduate s of teacher preparation programs should have about the socio-political natu re of teaching. 6. Describe the type of ideology you believe graduates of teacher preparation programs should have about teaching and learning. 7. Although the list framed the questions, we avoided interfering or directing participant answers. Because we allowed interviewees to discus s issues off the list, we relied on a discovery-oriented, inductive approach to interview ing (Bernard, 1994). In addition to individual interviews, we participat ed in four different focus groups


7 of 21conducted as a part of the Dean's reform initiative The institution's graduates now teaching, district principals, and faculty from the traditional and alternative teacher preparation programs attended the group interviews. Transcripts from those interviews formed an alternative data source to the individual interviews. The focus group involved the systematic questioning of several individuals i n a formal setting (Drever, 1995; Merton, Fiske, & Kendall, 1956).DocumentsAlthough the interviews were the heart of the data collection, we also collected documents and archival records to provide an altern ative perspective on the research question. Marshall and Rossman (1989) argue that t he unobtrusive nature of document and archival record collection provide a rich data source without disrupting the site. Included in the data were such documents as the sta te's Department of Education's Language Arts Essential Skills," the Holmes group p ublications, and the COE teacher preparation course syllabi.Observational DataOne of the authors attended all COE faculty restruc turing meetings; prepared faculty fora on teacher preparation; and conducted focus groups with school principals, teacher preparation program alumni, faculty, and cooperatin g and supervising teachers. During this phase of data collection we gathered important background knowledge for the study that would have otherwise been considered confident ial and unavailable for student use. Although we chose not to tape every meeting, these "brainstorming" sessions with faculty members provided additional insight for the phenomena under study.Analysis of DataWe began the study with the idea that the education al system comprises many constituent groups and the micropolitical hypothesis that diver se constituencies have different ideologies regarding schooling (e.g., images of cur riculum, teachers and teaching, pupils, and teacher preparation). We collected data that m ight reveal images of schooling and test the research hypothesis. Because of the emphasis placed on induction and int uition, we allowed meanings and definitions to emerge. All final categories and as sertions were grounded in interview transcripts, observations, and document data. This method allowed for some discovery in data generation and analysis and helped guard again st confirmatory bias. Notes were worked over after all observations and interviews w ere completed, thus allowing for a full picture of what occurred and providing a great er opportunity to encounter disconfirming evidence.Padilla's (1991) concept modeling methodology was u sed as a strategy for organizing and displaying the data. According to Padilla, one way to explain a situation is to identify various assumptions contained in the data and organ ize them into a coherent whole. In the concept modeling method, assertions contained i n the data were fundamental elements for analysis. First, we created a matrix in which to arrange the concepts, namely, images of curriculum, teachers, pupils, and the like. Next, we reduced long statements from interview transcripts and excerpts from documents to short paraphrases, and entered these data into appropriate cells of th e matrix. After we observed how data were arrayed across the constituent groups, we high lighted areas of convergence and


8 of 21 divergence among constituent images. Images and EvidenceOn the basis of the concept model we find that fund amental differences exist in the five constituencies in the images of the curriculum (i.e ., purpose, origin, organization, and content), teacher, pupils, and teacher education. Table 1 and Table 2 show the concept matrix with paraphrases inductively derived from da ta excerpts, illustrative samples of which are then presented and interpreted. Table 1 and Table 2 are organized as a matrix of five constituencies by the four topics.Images of CurriculumThe data from this study suggest divisions in regar d to curriculum content, purpose, and subject areas for curriculum development. Among co nstituencies, image of the curriculum differed along four dimensions: purpose, origin, organization, and content. Furthermore, the purpose of curriculum affected the other three dimensions. That is, notions of purpose corresponded with notions of app ropriate curriculum content and how and where curriculum should be developed.Table 1 Images of Curriculum Teacher Preparation (TP) Department of Education (DOE) PrincipalsHolmes Alternative Teacher Preparation (ATP) K-12 CurriculumPurpose CompetencyEssential skills define what pupils ought to know. Thedistricts use those skills for curriculum alignment.CompetencyState Essential Skills dictate the standardized skills andcompetencies all students should learn.CompetencyThe curriculum is determined in every district and is astatement ofgoals. Everydistrict really has the samegoals.InquiryCurriculum should emphasize collaborative learning,reflection, and dissemination of new and changing knowledge about teaching& learning (Holmes, 1992).InquiryStudents explore critical, reflective thinking and engage in theexamination of what is considered valuable knowledge inschools. Students study curriculum from many perspectives.OriginCentralizedWithout curriculum CentralizedCurriculum standards are CentralizedStandardized curriculum is Context dependentReal Context dependentTeachers


9 of 21 Teacher Preparation (TP) Department of Education (DOE) PrincipalsHolmes Alternative Teacher Preparation (ATP)guidelines it is too easy for noviceteachers to make independent decisions about what they prefer toteach. viewed as good. preferred, one that results in a collection ofmeasurable skills; curriculum is all prescribed. knowledge is purpose-built, site-built and infused withthe learners' sense ofpurpose. Knowledge is imaginativelyconstructed, not passively acquired (Holmes, 1990). should negotiate with the student a set of activitiesrelevant and meaningful but alsochallenging. They design acurriculum rather than latching on to a standardized one.OrganizationMolecularContent curriculum is dealt with in departments, with strictdivisions among content areas.MolecularEssential Skills specify content and skills for each grade level.General skill areas are within the disciplinesMolecularThere is a need for practical learning, instead of theholistic orientation not implemented in the public schools.IntegratedThe basics are not just facts but also concepts andrelationships. Concepts and facts merely make up a relatedbackground and foreground (Holmes, 1990).IntegratedCurriculum is holistic where all learning emanates frompupils' interests.ContentTechnicalCurriculum must be politically and religiously neutral. Valuescan be eliminated from the curriculum. Values should not be taughtin school.TechnicalValues shouldnot be taughtin school. They shouldbe taught inthe church.TechnicalPupils have to determine what's right and wrong. The conceptsshould be taught in the home, not by the teachers.SocialIn transmitting knowledge, you give students more than mathand science. You're transferring a whole value system that isingrained in the literacy system (Holmes, 1990).SocialIncluded in the content is the hidden curriculum and a socialand politicalcurriculum. Political and ethical agendas areinherent in school instruction as evidenced by what is included or


10 of 21 Teacher Preparation (TP) Department of Education (DOE) PrincipalsHolmes Alternative Teacher Preparation (ATP)excluded.We identified two recurrent, diverse perceptions re garding the purpose of curriculum: "competency based" and "inquiry based." Those who held a competency-based perspective felt pupils should learn a predetermine d set of content-independent cognitive skills applicable in a variety of situations. Advo cates primarily focus on refining intellectual operations or understanding the proces ses by which learning occurs in the classroom. The competency based conception of curr iculum highlights the intellectual processes rather than educative context and content In contrast, those with an "inquiry based" perspective believed instruction should forc e pupils to critically analyze what they learn. Additionally, proponents believe that instr uctional content and the learning context are interdependent. They often define curriculum i n process terms such as creative or critical thinking, metacognition, and experimentati on (ATP interview). We discovered further dichotomies within the other three dimensions (i.e., origin, organization, and content): 1) standardized versus local curriculum development; 2) fragmentation versus integration of subject areas; and 3) exclusion versus inclusion of political issues. However, curriculum purpose was a common thread, if not a dominant theme, among other dimensions. Those with a compet ency-based image saw curriculum as officially constructed (origin), organizationall y fragmented (organization), and politically neutral (content).Standardized versus local curriculum development Advocates of the "competency" stance assumed that the purpose of curriculum was t o teach students a clearly defined set of competencies dictated and determined by official governmental standards. Constituents viewed curriculum as a hierarchical se t of basic skills, which students must learn. Advocates assume district officials find, d efine, and dictate this knowledge to practitioners, and that the prescribed facts and gu idelines constitute the best curriculum model. Conversely, those who held an "inquiry based" stanc e questioned the existence of a unique body of knowledge and challenged the assumpt ion that individuals external to the classroom possess more relevant expertise than teac hers. They believed that teachers were capable of identifying knowledge and, more sig nificantly, that knowledge was inherent in the learning context. Thus, curriculum ceased to be static, predefined set of skills and outcomes, but rather functioned as a dyn amic, evolving system unique to each classroom environment. Fragmentation versus integration The fluid nature of an evolving system required a cohesive organizational approach to curriculum know ledge. Constituent groups recognized contrasting strategies to arrange and te ach school content. The molecular-holistic dichotomy, which represents the dilemma between the fragmentation and integration of content, surfaced in all data so urces. A molecular conception reflects an assumption of strong classification among conten t areas and the holistic conception assumes weak boundaries (Ginsburg, 1986).


11 of 21 Exclusion versus inclusion of social issues Another recurring dichotomy was the "technical" versus "social" dilemma, which represen ted contrasting preferences in curriculum content. Those who espoused the "techni cal" view avoided what they felt were value-laden issues opting instead to assume a neutral position devoid of specific social issues. Constituents who embraced the "soci al" perspective assumed a connection between the order of society and what the curriculu m of schools in that order contained. ATP faculty argued that depicting schooling and cur riculum as neutral and apolitical systems masks the bias in content selection and pro vides a facade of objectivity and fairness. To foster a balanced perspective, curric ular content and classroom experiences should include political, social, and ethical issue s. Moreover, they felt these constructs were inherent in schooling because, at some point, someone determined which facts were relevant.Images of TeachersWhat social expectations should apply to those who hold teaching positions? Most concede that teaching is a complex, multifaceted ac t that requires numerous activities, behaviors, and decision-making abilities (Barnes, 1 989; Spring, 1985). Although teaching requires knowledge of content and the abil ity to apply that knowledge in diverse settings there is room for differences in emphasis in this general description, even contradiction and controversy. The five constituencies held alternative images for what teachers do and what they should know. Moreover, we found a series of metaphors for what constitutes teachers' work. These emerging metaphors were so robust that we cho se to use them as a device to organize, analyze, and present the data.We uncovered two dominant, conflicting images of te achers, specifically "teacher as technician" and "teacher as inquirer." Constituent s advocating a competency-based conception of curriculum saw teachers as "technicia ns" who assume all responsibility for classroom learning and management. Therefore, teac hers, serving as diagnosticians and transmitters of knowledge, manipulate forces to pro duce predictable ends (Combs, 1991). In contrast, proponents of an "inquiry based" curri culum view teachers as facilitators in the learning environment. Curriculum goals are bro ad and context-dependent, and all participants in the classroom share the responsibil ity for student outcomes. That is, teachers and pupils collectively engage in decision -making processes, and as a result, the shared responsibility relieves the teacher's manage ment burden. Rather than functioning as managers, teachers function as consultants in th e students' evolving learning processes.Table 2 Images of Teachers, Pupils, and Teacher Preparation Teacher Preparation (TP) Department of Education (DOE) PrincipalsHolmes Alternative Teacher Preparation


12 of 21 (ATP) Teachers TechniciansTeachers should have a backpack of methods to delivermaterial. Content is presented to meet the needs of diversestudents.Evaluator Teachers effectively evaluate learners.TechniciansExperts Teachers should be multifaceted but certainly they must beexperts in their content area.Evaluator –Teachersevaluate whatpupils havedone to assessmastery.TransmittersDiagnostician Teachers need to diagnose the correct level ofdifficulty each student needs in relation to curriculumstandards.InquirersTeaching should include inquiry, reflection, documentation,and dissemination of new and changing knowledge (Holmes, 1992).InquirersTeachers are inquirers. They must question what's going on in the livesof students and society.Facilitator Teachers act like coaches in the learningenvironment. Their role is to enable learners to construct their ownknowledge.Pupils DeficientPupils are empty bank accounts when they come to class.DeficientPupils fall short because of the baggage they carry with them. At-riskstudents are those that have extra baggage, whether it'stheir parents or the community.DeficientSkills are arranged hierarchically so that higher order thinkingor problem solving is pursued once basic skills aremastered.Resource CentersLearning is an active process in which children construct andreconstructknowledge. Knowledge is imaginatively constructed, notpassively acquired (Holmes, 1990).Resource CentersPupils bring a variety of experiences and abilities with them,which must be considered in curriculum design. Pupils must thinkcritically and differently from others.Teacher Preparation CompetencyThe model is based on expanding an individual repertoire ofwell-defined, classroompractices. After graduates are armed with thebest foundation we send them into the field.CompetencyDistrict and governmental guidelines are set up whichdetermine what university students should experience in teachereducation.CompetencyTeaching must conform to district curriculum competencies and standards. Preparation programs should diagnose district patternsand translate them into the curriculum.InquiryInvestigation, critical reflection, and inquiry are central featuresof teacher education (Holmes, 1990).InquiryThe purpose of teacher education is to prepare teachers to beinquirers in the classroom. Teachers should challenge student beliefsand ideologies to make them critical thinkers.


13 of 21Teacher as technician Principals, DOE officials, and TP perceive teach ers primarily as expert technicians, who diagnose the learning situa tion, select techniques needed to reach goals, transmit content by sequencing and fragmenti ng chunks of information, and evaluate the outcome to determine if objectives wer e achieved. This image assumes: 1) a top-down organization in which teachers teach a set of competencies dictated and determined by official standards; 2) teachers posse ss content knowledge and are solely responsible for transmitting knowledge to students; and 3) learning is the development of competence as evidenced by learning standardized sk ills. Teachers, rarely in the business of creating new knowledge and others, such as unive rsities and scientists, for example, are knowledge producers.Teacher as inquirers ATP and the Holmes Group viewed teachers as "inqu irers" assisting and consulting students in an on-going pr ocess of exploration and discovery and placing more emphasis on participation and joint re sponsibility in the learning process. In this capacity teachers promote inquiry and function as facilitators in the classroom. In addition, a teacher's expertise lies in the promoti on of practices that create the conditions for social change. Constituents who view "teachers as inquirers" assume teachers are active in their pursuit of professional growth and reform and in their construction of and orientation to curriculum (ATP interview). This im age assumes a bottom up organization in which curriculum is developed by the teacher to fit the needs of students in a specific context. Advocates of this image assume teachers a re autonomous and are professionals who need to exercise more influence over their work rather than conforming to arbitrarily assigned tasks.Images of PupilsImages of pupils were compatible with constituent i mages of teachers. For example, those who viewed "teachers as technicians" assumed pupils were passive recipients and dependent learners in the classroom. Practitioners also assume that students must first master a set of competencies before they attempt cr itical thinking. Therefore, students rarely engage in decision-making processes or emplo y discovery methods. In contrast, constituents who viewed "teachers as inquirers" the reby allowed pupils to assume more responsibility for creating their own knowledge. B ecause teachers and pupils are involved in explorations, more solutions are possib le. The ATP learning context emphasizes problem solving and abstract thinking ra ther than prescribed solutions. Teachers incorporate student diversity (e.g., gende r, ethnic, language, and academic) into the curriculum, which is thematic and negotiated. Thus, preservice teachers are more able to serve a culturally diverse population.Images of Teacher PreparationIs there one best way of preparing teachers? Shoul d all preservice teachers receive the same body of knowledge and have the same experience s? We attempted to answer these questions by interviewing individuals involved in t he day-to-day operation of schools and programs of teacher preparation within the study si te. Images of teacher preparation were distilled across constituent views of curriculum, teachers, pupils, and schools. The first image ref lected the belief that official, governmental experts determine what skills and abil ities a new teacher should possess.


14 of 21These competencies, which are consistent with estab lished policies and the state curriculum developed by DOE administrators, should be learned in university classroom settings and field experiences. Teacher preparatio n for competency's framework is found in behavioral psychology and practitioners are expe cted to control stimuli to produce predetermined outcomes (Combs, 1991). Subsequently responsibility for direction is in the hands of teachers, which dictates a passive, co nditioned role for the learner. Conversely, constituents with an inquiry-based pers pective saw teacher preparation as a process-oriented framework to encourage critical th inking, responsibility, and responsiveness toward a diverse student population using broadly defined subject matter and goals. Therefore, faculty concentrate on creat ing optimal conditions suitable for exploring (Combs, 1991). We found a list of competing interests, needs, and ideologies among Teacher Preparation Program constituents. Many of these discrepant vie ws coalesce around the issue of what we assess as relevant and what balances we strike a mong academic knowledge, technical competence, and critical inquiry. Whereas advocate s of technical competence have always prided themselves on its direct relevance to the workplace, others have valued a broader education including the exploration of disc iplinary knowledge and the development of higher order skills such as critical thinking, problem solving, communication, and research skills (Clancy and Ball ard, 1995). Yet, universities and teacher preparation programs remain under pressure to be more accountable to the workplace and to principals who hire graduates.To make a more concise argument we chose to epitomi ze basic competing ideologies in two idealized, hypothetical classrooms. In Classro om A, which is representative of TP, COE, and principals' perceptions, teacher preparati on instructors use a knowledge-based curriculum for prospective teachers. The syllabus delineates course objectives, goals, and assignments and grades are determined by content co mpetency predetermined by the instructor. Students are taught from a behaviorist approach, which assumes knowledge is fixed, technical, and generated from an external so urce. In Classroom A, teachers, as consumers and transmitters of knowledge, are primar ily responsible for student learning. In Classroom B, which represents The Holmes Group a nd ATP ideologies, teacher preparation students make decisions about course de sign and content, identify an independent ethnographic research project relevant to their needs, and study the whole language method. Using a thematic approach, they d esign lesson plans that may include history, literature, and art. The instructor argue s that a standardized curriculum is ineffective because of the unique nature of each te aching and learning context. From this perspective, teachers function as constructors and facilitators of knowledge, while pupils assume more responsibility for their learning (i.e. are also inquirers). Teachers emphasize the constructivist assumption that learni ng is social behavior; therefore, classroom activities must include interactive proce sses that promote broad conceptual understanding. Teachers value knowledge as problem atic, holistic, negotiated, and socially relevant. This constituency highlighted t he interpretive value of experiential knowing. The existence of these two diverse perspectives wit hin a common teacher education program highlights intra-organizational activity an d supports micropolitical theory that assumes that any complex organization, such as an i nstitution of higher education, comprises several constituencies that contend with each other over resources, interests,


15 of 21and definitions of schooling. As we examined this teacher preparation program, we saw one coalition develop (ATP), due to common ideologi es, and break away from the traditional program (TP). Although faculty ideolog ies within the ATP were unitary, their educational vision was different from the tradition al program. In fact, ATP faculty believed that their vision was "Not for everyone" a nd did not intend to market their program as the model for systemic reform in the Col lege. While we interviewed and observed TP faculty, we un covered a main voice, which reflected common ideologies within that constituenc y. We later presented this dominant voice in the matrices and text. However, there wer e additional, divergent voices within that constituency. For example, some TP faculty sha red common views with the ATP program; however, they chose not to break away. Ot her responses were considered rare and were perhaps anomalies within the TP. Based up on further splintering of ideologies, we could have divided the TP into several other sub categories.ConclusionsSystemic reform aims to restructure the entire educ ational system, a process requiring the organization of all facets of schooling. To facili tate dynamic educational change, the process must involve all intersecting components of the system. However, if one of these components contradicts the others, change in the re mainder of the system is subverted or distorted. According to systemic reform, solutions must come through the development of shared and negotiated meanings (Fullan, 1991) as the Dean of the College of Education had desired in attempting to institute hi s unitary vision of teacher preparation reform.Edelman (1995) argued that reform that enforces a c entral, standard vision of an organization is likely to have only symbolic, rathe r than instrumental effects if one assumes that individuals act (e.g., teachers) towar d objects (e.g., courses) according to the meanings and definitions of the situation that thos e objects have for them (Blumer, 1969). Then the imposition of a unified vision or central reform will only provoke resistance, increase teachers' political action, dr ive ideological differences underground (Benveniste, 1989), or result in a splintering of s ubprograms that are internally consistent but contradictory across subprograms. The present study of a single case, the efforts of a COE to reform its teacher preparation program, revealed several of the organizational pro cesses above and highlighted the fact that systemic reform is unobtainable. Through nonc ompliance, instructors will openly resist or dramatically revise policy with which the y are ideologically opposed (Blase, 1997; White & Wehlage, 1995) and reform will be "su bverted by the complex interplay of human transactions that do not happen to fit the printed scenario" (Benveniste, 1989, p. 329). Reform can disrupt the status quo because the incre ased expectations make schools and their communities unavoidably more political. Poli tical actors (e.g., teachers) rush in to take advantage of openings, grabbing control of age ndas and resources in the temporary vacuum created by reform. When individuals form gr oups, they validate their ideologies and strengthen their position. As a consequence of reform, teachers may realize increased political power. An intra-organizational process in the present case study linked this micropolitical


16 of 21assumption with empirical evidence. Although the de velopment of a common vision within the college or systemic reform was not achie ved, one coalition successfully implemented a reformed teacher preparation program based upon their shared images of schooling. The ATP group, which separated from the traditional TP track, enjoyed increased political power and developed a teacher e ducation program that reflected components of the dean's restructuring vision and t he national reform agenda. For example, ATP increased active learning environments promoted collaboration between the university and local schools, and educated pres ervice teachers to better serve the needs of a culturally and linguistically diverse st udent population. The Holmes Group (1992), the Carnegie Task Force, and the National C ommission for Excellence have underscored the importance of educating teachers to understand and serve the needs of a diverse population and have identified this as an i mportant goal in teacher education reform.To what other institutions can one generalize these findings? Their consistency with other research suggests the case is not unique (Bal l, 1987; Blase, 1991, 1997; Blase and Anderson, 1995; Hoyle, 1999; Lindle, 1999; Malen, 1 994; Mawhinney, 1999; Noblit et al., 1991; Scribner et al., 1995; and West, 1999). Yet, what is generalized from case studies is not the empirical features of this parti cular college of education. Instead, as Ragin and Becker (1992) pointed out, what is genera lized is the theoretical process discovered here. That is, the existence of constit uencies within institutions and the conflicting and discrepant ideologies across consti tuencies create program and policy incoherence, and this intra-organizational process may occur in other institutions as well. From a micropolitical perspective, is change possib le? Change occurs in organizations because of internal processes, practices, and confl ict. Conflict and contrasting views of schooling in this case prompted and enabled change. Reform in one track of teacher education (ATP) was an expected by-product in this social system comprising competing ideologies. Combs (1991) pointed out that organiza tional reform stems from changes in the beliefs of the people at the street level (e.g. teachers) and because educational reform concerns individuals in a culture we must create a system specifically designed for the "human problem" (p. 148). He suggested a move from a closed to an open system. In the open system, for teachers, the basic shift entails movement toward a student-centered view of learning (Levin, 1994) while administrators function as facilitators rather than managers. Recognizing and addressing the human problem in ref orm requires changes not only in the structure and administration of, but also in ho w we perceive the organization. Ball (1987) added that the focus on organizational matte rs should be augmented by a parallel focus on the content of policy and decision-making in schools since a large portion of the content is ideological. Even when goals are clearl y delineated, different educational and political ideologies may lead educators to approach their tasks from diverse directions. As Ball pointed out, it is "possible to find enormo us differences between subject departments within the same school and even between teachers in the same department." (p 14)The increased expectations and political activity a ssociated with education reform make the study of micropolitics absolutely crucial for s chool administrators and reform advocates (Lindle, 1999; Mawhinney, 1999; West, 199 9). The empirical evidence presented in this case, which is consistent with pr ior work in the field, supports the assertion that all organizations are composed of co alitions and individuals with


17 of 21competing ideologies; as Barr-Greenfield (1975, p. 65) so poignantly stated, that "is the organization." In other words, reformers have to a cknowledge and work with the limitations and opportunities inherent in the proce sses of such a structure. Micropolitical advocates such as Bacharach (1996) argued that curr ent theories of organizational change fail to pay adequate attention to how organizations move from one stable state to another. Therefore, a model of the organizational transformation process or intra-organizational practices must also be examine d for those considering reform in education.ReferencesBacharach, S. B. (1996.). The organizational trans formation process: The micropolitics of dissonance reduction and the alignment of logics of action. Administrative Science Quarterly 41 (3), 477-506. Ball, S. J. (1987). The micropolitics of the school: Towards a theory o f school organization London: Methuen. Barnes, A. (1989). Structuring knowledge for beginn ing teachers, in M. Reynolds (ed.), Knowledge base for the beginning teacher Oxford, England: Pergamon, 13-22. Barr-Greenfield, T. (1975). Theory about organizati on: A new perspective and its implications for schools, in V.P. Houghton, G.A.R. McHugh, & C. Morgan (ed .), Management in education London: Wardlock/Open University Press 69-87. Benveniste, G. (1989). The micro-politics of the s chool: Towards a theory of school organization (Review). Educational Administration Quarterly 2, 326-328. Bernard, H. R. (1994). Unstructured and semistruct ured interviewing. Research methods in anthropology: Qualitative and quantitative appro aches. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE. Blase, J. (1991). Politics of life in schools: Power, conflict, and c ooperation. London: Newbury Park.Blase, J. (1997). The micropolitical orientation o f facilitative school principals and its effects on teachers' sense of empowerment. Journal of Educational Administration 35(2), 138-164.Blase, J. & Anderson G. (1995). The micropolitics of educational leadership: From Control to Empowerment. New York: NY: Teachers College Press, Columbia University.Blumer, H. (1969). Symbolic interactionism: Perspective and method. (Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall).Clancy, J. and Ballard, B. (1995). Generic skills in the context of higher education Higher Education Research and Development 14 (2). Combs, A. W. (1991). The schools we need: New assumptions for education al reform. Lanham, MD: University Press of America, Inc.


18 of 21Drever, E. (1995). Using semi-structured interviews in small-scale res earch. A teacher's guide Scottish council for research in education, Edin burgh. Edelman, M. (1985). The symbolic uses of politics. Chicago, IL: University of Illinois Press.Erickson, F.(1986). Qualitative methods in researc h on teaching. In M. Wittrock (ed.), Handbook of Research on Teaching New York: Macmillin Co, 114-16. Ginsburg, M. B. (1986). Reproductions, contradictio ns, and conceptions of curriculum in preservice teacher education. Curriculum Inquiry 16 (3), 283-309. The Holmes Group.(1986). Tomorrow's teachers: A report of the Holmes Group, Inc. East Lansing, MI: The Holmes Group, Inc.The Holmes Group,(1990). Tomorrow's schools. East Lansing, MI: The Holmes Group, Inc.The Holmes Group, (1992). Recommitting and reshaping the education school: St imulus paper East Lansing, MI: The Holmes Group, Inc. Hoyle, E. (1999). The two faces of micropolitics. School Leadership and Management 19 (2), 213-222. Levin, B. (1994). Improving educational productivi ty: Putting students at the center. Phi Delta Kappan 75(10), 758-760. Lindle, J. C. (1999). What can the study of microp olitics contribute to the practice of leadership in reforming schools? School Leadership and Management 19 (2), 171-178. Mawhinney, H. B. (1999). Reappraisal: The problems and prospects of studying the micropolitics of leadership in reforming schools. School Leadership and Management, 19 (2), 159-170. Malen, B. (1994). The micropolitics of education: Mapping the multiple dimensions of power relations in school politics. Journal of Education Policy 9 (5), 147-167. Marshall, C., & Rossman, G. B. (1989). Designing qualitative research Newbury Park, CA: SAGE Publications, Inc.Merton, R. K., Fiske, M., & Kendall, P. L. (1956). The focused interview. Glencoe, IL: Free Press.Noblit, G., Berry, B., & Dempsey, V. (1991). Polit ical responses to reform: A case study. Education and Urban society, 23(4), 379-395.O'Day, J. A. & Smith, M. S. (1993). Systemic school reform and educational opportunity. In S. Fuhrman (ed.), Designing coherent education policy: Improving the system San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass Publishers, 250-31 1. Padilla, R. V. (1991). Using computers to develop c oncept models of social situations. Qualitative Sociology 14 (3), 263-274.


19 of 21Ragin, C. C. (1992). "Casing" and the process of so cial inquiry. In C. C. Ragin & H. S. Becker (Eds.), What is a case? Cambridge, MA: Cambridge University Press, 217-226 Ragin, C. C., & Becker, H. S. (1992). What is a case? (Cambridge, MA: Cambridge University Press).Salamon, G. & Thompson, K. (1973). People and Organizations. London: Longman. Scribner, J. & Layton, D. (1995). The study of edu cational politics. 1994 Commemorative yearbook of the politics of education association (1969-1994). Bristol, PA: Falmer Press.Spring, J. (1985). American education: An introduction to social and p olitical aspects White Plains, NY: Longman.West, M. (1999). Micropolitics, leadership and all that. The need to increase the micropolitical awareness and skills of school leade rs. School Leadership and Management 19 (2), 189-195. White, J. A., & Wehlage, G. (1995). Community coll aboration: If it is such a good idea, why is it so hard to do? Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis 17 (1), 23-38.About the AuthorsSusan HaagCollege of Engineering and Applied SciencesArizona State UniversityTempe, AZ 85287 Email: susan.haag@asu.eduSusan Haag is the Director of Assessment and Evalua tion for the College of Engineering and Applied Sciences at Arizona State University. S he advises and assists faculty in the development and implementation of course and progra m assessment and evaluation. Her academic and personal research focuses on education al reform, program evaluation, integrating assessment and technology into the curr iculum, organizational policy, and recruiting and retaining underrepresented populatio ns. Mary Lee SmithCollege of EducationArizona State UniversityTempe, AZ 85287Email: Mary Lee Smith is Professor of Educational Policy S tudies in the College of Education, Arizona State University and also Professor of Meth odological Studies. In her early research career she worked on methodology of meta-a nalysis, particularly the meta-analysis of research on psychotherapy effectiv eness. She has spent a number of years working on alternative methodologies in evalu ation and policy research and has applied them to study assessment policies and polic ies to end social promotion.


20 of 21 Copyright 2002 by the Education Policy Analysis ArchivesThe World Wide Web address for the Education Policy Analysis Archives is General questions about appropriateness of topics o r particular articles may be addressed to the Editor, Gene V Glass, or reach him at College of Education, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ 8 5287-2411. The Commentary Editor is Casey D. Cobb: .EPAA Editorial Board Michael W. Apple University of Wisconsin Greg Camilli Rutgers University John Covaleskie Northern Michigan University Alan Davis University of Colorado, Denver Sherman Dorn University of South Florida Mark E. Fetler California Commission on Teacher Credentialing Richard Garlikov Thomas F. Green Syracuse University Alison I. Griffith York University Arlen Gullickson Western Michigan University Ernest R. House University of Colorado Aimee Howley Ohio University Craig B. Howley Appalachia Educational Laboratory William Hunter University of Calgary Daniel Kalls Ume University Benjamin Levin University of Manitoba Thomas Mauhs-Pugh Green Mountain College Dewayne Matthews Education Commission of the States William McInerney Purdue University Mary McKeown-Moak MGT of America (Austin, TX) Les McLean University of Toronto Susan Bobbitt Nolen University of Washington Anne L. Pemberton Hugh G. Petrie SUNY Buffalo Richard C. Richardson New York University Anthony G. Rud Jr. Purdue University Dennis Sayers California State University—Stanislaus Jay D. Scribner University of Texas at Austin Michael Scriven Robert E. Stake University of Illinois—UC Robert Stonehill U.S. Department of Education David D. Williams Brigham Young University


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