When using complexity theory as an approach to methodological design and analysis, what can we learn from teachers about school improvement?

Cook, Katie (2023) When using complexity theory as an approach to methodological design and analysis, what can we learn from teachers about school improvement? PhD thesis, University of Gloucestershire. doi:10.46289/PP99Z2E3

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It is the teachers who are at the forefront of any school improvement and how they experience it impacts on development strategies and outcomes. This study explored teacher perceptions of school improvement. The thesis contributes to new knowledge by offering an original approach to qualitative research using the lens of Complexity in the data collection and analysis. It aligns itself with Grounded Theory yet offers an alternative approach using a predetermined theoretical framework. It also builds on the current literature that considers teachers’ perception of the impact of collaboration, teacher leadership and change, on school improvement and student outcomes. The study employed the lens of Complexity Theory. It used semi-structured interviews with six teachers over five phases. Each phase of questions reflected a group of Complexity Theory characteristics and responded to the emerging data. The final phase of the research utilised a focus group, with a different set of six teachers, to test initial findings. This thesis presents a predetermined thematic methodology that has its foundations in the approach associated with Grounded Theory. This study has contributed to new knowledge by exposing five school improvement tensions. These tensions are, Credibility, Time, Power, Practical solutions, and Striving for Equilibrium. The teacher perceived tensions create barriers to improvement but also act as a springboard for change. For example, external sources of expertise who can offer opportunities to recognise development needs, conflicting with experts who are not perceived to be credible and are perceived to hinder school improvement. The school leadership implications for future practice include, considering how the five tensions can be exploited to ensure optimal school improvement opportunities, and how tensions can be better balanced to support teacher workload and wellbeing. The study suggests that Complexity Theory and the five tensions are a useful way to consider the implications of new school improvement policies on teachers and schools.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Thesis Advisors:
Thesis AdvisorEmailURL
Masardo, Alexamasardo@glos.ac.ukhttps://www.glos.ac.uk/staff/profile/alex-masardo/
Forster, Colincforster@glos.ac.ukhttps://www.glos.ac.uk/staff/profile/colin-forster/
Uncontrolled Keywords: School improvement; School leadership; Complexity theory; UK
Subjects: L Education > LB Theory and practice of education > LB1501 Primary Education
Divisions: Schools and Research Institutes > School of Education and Science
Research Priority Areas: Society and Learning
Depositing User: Susan Turner
Date Deposited: 04 Jan 2024 09:59
Last Modified: 04 Jan 2024 09:59
URI: https://eprints.glos.ac.uk/id/eprint/13313

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