Date of Award

1999

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Educational Leadership, Research and Counseling

First Advisor

Dianne L. Taylor

Abstract

During the last decade, the allocation of time emerged as an important reform initiative in secondary schools. For nearly a century, secondary school students attended approximately six to seven classes daily. In the early 1990s, more flexible scheduling configurations were proposed, including block scheduling. One block scheduling format, known as 4 x 4, allows students to attend four classes daily for 90-minute blocks of time. Block scheduling advocates claimed benefits for students, teachers, instructional innovation, and school climate, but provided little empirical base for these claims. The present study examined the effects of 4 x 4 block scheduling on four school climate variables: student discipline, faculty collegiality, time-related obstacles, and student-related obstacles. There were 21 high schools in the sample, evenly divided into three groups. One group had 3 or more years experience with block scheduling; the second group had 2 years experience with block scheduling; and the third group used the traditional six- to seven-period a day schedule. The study utilized a mixed methodology. Survey, observational, and interview data were collected in 21 schools during Phase I of the study. Phase II utilized teacher interviews, observations, and archival data in a case study of two schools within the same group. Five main findings emerged. First, the main effect for group type on overall climate was significant. Second, the groups differed significantly on time-related obstacles to teaching, providing empirical evidence for time management claims in the literature. Third, groups did not significantly differ on student discipline, faculty collegiality, and student-related obstacles. Fourth, leadership emerged from interviews as a significant factor in shaping high school climate. Finally, there were important differences among schools within groups, indicating that school contexts are unique. Ancillary findings pointed to absenteeism and tardiness as the most pervasive student discipline concerns across groups, and to a linkage of faculty collegiality with communications and staff development. Teachers reported that excessive paperwork, student apathy, and poor student work ethic were impediments to teaching. The effectiveness of block scheduling was boosted by strong leadership, instructional focus, staff development, communications, and the elimination of barriers to goal attainment.

ISBN

9780599636279

Pages

280

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