The guided research questions helped provide reflections to aid in discussions on the Valley View Middle School case study. Several of the guided research questions pertained to whether the leadership behavior that Superintendent O’Brien, Frank Becker, and Earl Radburn demonstrated was consistent with the three tenets of transformational leadership and what motives prevented them from exhibiting better examples of transformational leadership.
Other questions referred to how these individuals could have used their influence to better motivate, collaborate, and ethically inspire teachers and parents at the middle school. Additional guided questions asked how O’Brien and Radburn could have used the uniform policy to better promote a sense of unity at the middle school, how they could have better dealt with the parents who opposed the uniform policy, and how their behavior was both culturally competent and incompetent.
Questions also centered on how reversing the uniform policy contradicted principles of cultural competency and social justice. Similarly, there were guided questions that reflected on the errors made during the devising, approval, and implementation phase of the uniform policy and the political, socio-economic, and organizational issues that may have occurred during the implementation of the policy.
Lastly, guided questions prompted discussion on how the reader would have dealt with the resistance and managed the different facets of the policy differently than the individuals in the case study. The researcher assumes an etic role in the study. They took an objective view of the case study and asked probing discussion questions based on different leadership and implementation framework and theories. The researcher collected data such as documents and reports to investigate a real life, contemporary bounded single case study to address the research problem (Creswell & Poth, 2018).
A case study was the most appropriate qualitative design to address the research problem of interest because the study analyzed the principal and the superintendent’s decision making as well as their relationship with the parents, teachers, and other individuals in the community in regards to the uniform policy. The behavior involved in the case study could not be manipulated, which also makes a case study the most appropriate design to use. This single case study analyzed the leadership behavior of the principal and superintendent as well as the perception that the individuals who had a vested interest about the uniform policy had of them.
The boundaries of the case study included the communication and actions of the principal, superintendent, school board, parents, and teachers on the issue of the uniform policy in the Valley View School District. In this case, the constructs of saturation are not apparent but triangulation is apparent. Although the case study noted that a majority of teachers embraced the uniform policy and majority of students and parents opposed the policy, the researcher did not include formal data collection or specific surveys or interviews from parents, teachers, or students.
The researcher used a variety of data types in their descriptive case study to analyze the leadership and implementation of the uniform policy at Valley View Middle School. The researcher gave a chronological sequence of events that impacted the uniform policy including the 2010-2011 planning and implementation of the mandatory uniform policy, the feedback from parents, students, and teachers, and the decision to eliminate the uniform policy during the 2011-2012 school year despite the middle school teacher’s objections.
The case study also utilized data from literature reviews on transformational leadership, social justice leadership, and policy implementation to provide further insight on the diverse viewpoints on the topic of uniforms. Ethical issues that may have effected this case study would be the respect for privacy and anonymity for the individuals involved in the case study. The researcher did not specify the exact location of the school, which respects the privacy of the school. It is unclear whether the names used in the case study are the individual’s real names, but if they were, that may lead to ethical issues of privacy.
The limitations of the study are that only one case study was examined, therefore there was no comparison with other cases on uniform policies in schools. There was a lack of specific and rigor in the collection of data available in the study. Rather than focus on the exact statistics gathered from the evidence that supposedly substantiated that uniforms improved achievement, the case study focused on the miscalculations in leadership and implementation from the administration as well as the failure to persuade teachers, students, and parents to buy in to the uniform policy.
The results of the case study were successful in revealing the problems that many policy makers may experience when they don’t effectively marshal support for a new policy by preparing a solid rationale for the policy, committing to ongoing conversations with stakeholders, and effectually overcoming opposition to the policy. The information, reflection, and discussion from this case study may be valuable to policy makers who are considering implementing a uniform policy in their schools.
In future studies, it would be beneficial to see how the parents, teachers, and students buy in to a new policy would be if the policy makers first presented research from other schools where the uniform policy had been successfully implemented. It would also be valuable to see how conducting surveys and interviews with parents, students, and teachers would help in the decision making phase of the uniform policy.
Additionally, it would also useful to collect discipline and attendance statistics in a school before and after uniform policies are implemented to demonstrate to stakeholders that implementing the uniform policy increased the quality of instruction and made students safer. Case Study II In many school systems, elementary school classrooms are taught all subjects by one teacher (Lobdell & Van Ness, 1963). This instructional methods in known as self-contained instruction.
Due to national reports of decreasing student achievement and school funding and increasing teacher turnover rates, schools have looked for ways to better retain teachers and increase student achievement (Klassen & Chiu, 2010; Strohl, Schmertzing, & Schmertzing, 2014). Departmentalization is a style of team teaching where teachers specialize and teacher specific content areas instead of teaching every subject (Delviscio & Muffs, 2007). Departmentalized instruction has typically been used in middle and high school settings, but have been increasingly implemented in elementary schools as well.
This purpose of this qualitative case study was to investigate elementary teachers’ perspectives on departmentalized classroom instruction. The case study utilized focus groups, individual interviews, and surveys to inquire about the differences in the level of workload, collaboration, stress, teaching methods, and interactions with parents and students was using the departmentalized instruction method versus self-contained instruction method.
The researcher assumed the role of deciding how to collect data, designing the questions, interviewing the participants, transcribing the interviews, and analyzing, verifying, and reporting the data (Kvale, 1996). The qualitative case study design was appropriate because the data derived from different teacher’s perspectives on the phenomena of departmentalized instruction could be used to study issues in depth and detail. All the participants were located in a single school which makes a qualitative case study an appropriate design to use.
The researcher used a variety of methods to collect data such as interviews, questionnaires, graphic organizers, and journals. The single case study analyzed the perceptions and experiences of the twelve participants on their experiences of departmentalized instruction in their rural south-eastern elementary school for one school year. In this case, the constructs of saturation and triangulation are apparent because of the array of data used. All twelve participants of the study were interviewed in individual interviews as well as in two to three focus groups each.
The participants were also encouraged to schedule additional interviews and five teachers initiated two or more unscheduled conversations with the researcher. All participants also completed questionnaires, journal notes, and graphic organizers to provide strong analysis for the case study. The data was transcribed through a two cycle method so that patterns and themes could be created. Literature reviews on the history of the different aspects of departmentalized instruction and self-contained instruction were used to add additional data in the study.
In order to avoid repetition of the perspectives and themes, the researcher did not meet with the same participants in the focus groups and made sure that participants didn’t participate in more than three focus groups. Additionally, the researcher gave a chronological sequence of events during the implementation of departmentalized instruction during the 2011-2012 school year. The researcher worked at the same school that the case study took place in and this could possibly lead to bias.
Participants giving their interviews with other participants could have possibly been an issue with privacy and an issue with participants possibly giving deceptive statements, but the researcher also held individual interviews and allowed participants to submit journals and graphic organizers anonymously. The name of the school and the participant’s names were also withheld, therefore anonymity was not an issue. Some of the limitations of the case study are that the population was relatively small.
Since the researcher works at the schools, there is the chance that the participants may have answered in a more favorable manner to departmentalized instruction than they may have if the researcher was not a colleague. Researcher subjectivity and the participants background could also possible be a limitation. All of the teachers who participated in the case study were veteran teachers with between five and twenty-four years of teaching experience. A majority of the teachers had a master’s degree or a specialist’s degree and only one teacher had only a bachelor’s degree.
It would be interesting to see what non-veteran teachers’ perspectives would be after using the departmentalized instruction method for one school year. All elementary schools may not benefit from departmentalized instruction and in order for it to work, all teacher, students, and parents must buy in to the instructional methods. Despite this, the case study is significant because it provides additional research on how the departmentalized instruction method may be useful in some elementary schools.
The various approaches used to gather data increased the overall validity and reliability of the study. The findings were consistent with the related literature and indicated that implementing the departmentalized instruction in pilot trials could help increase achievement in elementary schools, reduce teacher stress, and improve job satisfaction, teacher self-efficacy, planning time, collaboration, and interaction with parents and students. In the future, case studies can also gather perspectives about the use of departmentalized instruction from students and parents.