Archives

2007

Vol 2, No 3 (2007): Rebuilding Afghanistan’s Higher Educational System: Observations from Kabul

This paper describes the crucial issues and challenges facing Afghanistan’s universities as they begin the demanding task of rebuilding and restructuring their university system after two decades of war and civil unrest. The setting for this qualitative study is a four-day professional development conference for Afghan university presidents and academic deans sponsored and funded by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization and the Afghanistan Ministry of Higher Education. Cooperative Studies (an NGO, not-for-profit educational organization located in Kansas City) provided a team of academics to Kabul, Afghanistan, to offer professional development workshops. Using the Grounded Theory Methodology as a theoretical framework for this research, data was derived from interactive sessions, questionnaires, informal dialogue, small group sessions and question and answer sessions; the perspectives of the 39 Afghan academic leaders are presented as they describe the problems facing university administrators in their country today. Findings identify these challenges and center on 1) the lack of autonomy; 2) the need for qualified faculty; 3) concerns regarding students’ access and preparation; and 4) concerns about funding and budget issues. Based on these findings, policy suggestions and recommendations are provided.

Vol 2, No 2 (2007): What Does It Cost a University to Educate One Student

A dilemma administrators continually face is whether to continue offering degree programs despite low student uptake, especially because producing reliable cost data to aid decision making can prove difficult. Often, a university determines a standard cost per credit or unit and uses this figure as a basis for computing the total cost of running a degree program. This is then compared to a revenue stream and the difference, whether positive or negative, is used in decision making. However, this method of computing costs, although appealing for its simplicity, may fail to capture the effects of economies that may arise as one school or college services another. In this paper, we use a basic cost accounting methodology applied to the higher education system of the Philippines to compute for a cost per degree per student for a sample of public and private universities. Although the methodology is more time consuming, the computed figures are deemed closer to actual costs and, thus, we argue, are more reliable as inputs to financial decision making.

Vol 2, No 1 (2007): Conflicting Views of School Community: The Dichotomy Between Administrators and Teachers

This project was the second phase of a two-phase study of teachers’ knowledge of community in an urban, private boys’ day school in Canada. The first phase examined a teacher’s perception of her classroom community, and this phase asked teachers and administrators in the same school about their perceptions of school community.We found that the school created and implemented an organizational structure designed to foster and sustain a professional community. However, administrators and teachers conceptualized, understood, and experienced community in different ways. Administrators saw community as a management tool to generate support for the school’s objectives. Teachers experienced community as social support that served as a remedy for professional isolation. Neither group based its view on community as a capacity-building, reflective process leading to a generative professional community.

2006

Vol 1, No 3 (2006): A Conceptual Framework for Multiple Stakeholder Educational Decision Making

The purpose of this paper is to construct a conceptual framework of educational decision making that accounts for critical factors in decision processes. Elements of the framework include multiple stakeholders’ objectives and influence, varying degrees of collaboration, the concept of coupling between decision makers and stakeholders, and feedback as decisions evolve. The theoretical and conceptual contributions of this paper help to fill in an important gap in the decision making and leadership literature by explaining the dynamics of multiple actors involved in a series of decisions over time. This conceptual framework is developed by presenting areas of inquiry that are not addressed in the current literature and responding to them in a step-wise fashion. A brief school district case is used for illustration. The paper concludes with research and practice applications of the conceptual framework.

Vol 1, No 2 (2006): School Library Policy and Legal Opinions of Texas Public School Principals and Certified Librarians

This study involved a survey of Texas public-school principals and certified librarians’ attitudes, perceptions and experiences with regard to school library policy for media selection and procedures for responding to complaints against library media. Analysis of the data included a methodology of mixed-methods explanatory design. Selection of the principals and certified librarians was proportionate and stratified according to the state’s 20 Education Service Center regions. Of the 1,036 Independent School Districts that employed the state population of 10,014 principals and certified librarians, 275 Independent School Districts (26.5 percent) allowed participation in the survey. Though random sampling of the state population had not been possible, the demographic and employment characteristics of the study sample were comparable to those of the state population. Two key findings were (a) that the legal opinions of principals and certified librarians were useful predictors of their opinions of library media selection policy and complaint procedures and (b) that the principals’ appreciation of selection policy and complaint procedures sometimes differed from the librarians’ because of the principals’ different legal perspective of library selection policy and complaint procedures.

Vol 1, No 1 (2006): Small Classes in the Early Grades and Course Taking in High School

Researchers examined the relationship between small-class participation in the first four years of school and course-taking patterns in high school. Using original data from Tennessee's Project STAR (Student-Teacher Achievement Ratio) with high school transcripts for 3,922 students from the STAR experiment, the hypothesis that class size is related to the amount and level of coursework taken in mathematics, science, and foreign language was tested. Results indicated that students who spent three or more years in small classes took more foreign language courses, higher-level foreign language courses, and higher-level mathematics courses than did students in full-size classes. The possibility that small-class participation would benefit low-SES students more than high-SES students was also explored, but no evidence was found of an SES-specific effect. The results are discussed in terms of (a) using class-size policies to promote the taking of advanced courses in high school, and (b) the need to consider long-term outcomes when evaluating class-size reduction initiatives.

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