ERG SES G 05, Policies and Education
Weick’s (1995) and Weick’s and associates’ (2005) theory of sense-making has been utilized to investigate educational problems involving uncertainties and ambiguities in decentralized educational contexts such as in the Anglo-American countries (e.g. Coburn, 2001; Coburn, 2005; Spillane et al., 2002a). Weick’s et al. (2005) conception of sense-making is adopted: a two-part social construction (Berger & Luckmann, 1967) process of “what’s the story here?” i.e. interpretation and “now what should I do?” i.e. implementation.
In this research, the theory of sense-making will be deployed to investigate an educational problem that is situated in Singapore’s centralized context where decisions on resource allocations and curriculum (OECD, 2013) are made by the state, resulting in less “ambiguity about [the] ends and means of schooling”, an observation noted by Spillane (2015). Applying sense-making to a centralized education system is problematic (Spillane, 2015), since schools have less degree of freedom to decide on how to shape teaching and learning and a greater need to make sense and align to the broad central interpretations of the policies under such a contextual condition. As such, this research attempts to investigate how principals make sense of two recent overlapping educational policies on teaching and learning of 21st century competencies (21CC) and Student-Centric, Values-Driven Education (SVE) in Singapore.
This research also attempts to inquire into the factors that shape the sense-making process in a centralized context such as Singapore. From the sampled literature, it was found that both internal and external factors to the principals shape sense-making by principals. This conclusion is not too dissimilar from Spillane et al.’s (2002b) argument that teachers’ response to instructional policy is influenced by individual factors (knowledge, beliefs and emotions), and factors related to the organsiational and social contexts, among other factors. The support for the former point could be found in the fact that Weick (1995) has found that sense-making is driven by one's sense of identity. On the latter point, it should be noted that cognition is situated and contextual i.e. knowing is not solely an individual matter (Greeno, Collins & Resnick, 1986). Rather, an individual’s sense-making is influenced by the larger social and policy context that the sense-making takes place in.
Specifically, this research will exmaine the shaping of the process of sense-making by the principals' values and beliefs, as this aspect of research, while it has been conducted elsewhere, has not been conducted in Singapore schools before. With regards to the external factors, this research will inquire the impact that global trends and developments will have on Singapore principals' sense-making of educational policies, a novel line of research.
The research questions of this inquiry are:
1. How do the experienced secondary school principals make sense of the overlapping educational policy messages of 21CC and SVE in a centralized context?
a. What interpretations do the principals make of the policy messages?
b. How do the principals implement these policy messages in their schools?
c. How do the interpretation-implementation cycle(s) look like?
2. How do factors internal and external to the experienced secondary school principals shape their interpretation and implementation of the overlapping educational policy messages of 21CC and SVE in a centralized context?
a. How do the principals’ values and beliefs (societal, education profession, and moral and human (adapted from Day & Leithwood, 2007)) (internal factor) affect and is affected by the interpretation and implementation of these policies?
b. How do global and national trends and issues facing Singapore (external factor), either directly or indirectly through the school district context, school context and/or the principals’ values and beliefs, shape the interpretation and implementation of these policies by principals?
Ball, S. J., Maguire, M., & Braun, A. (2012). How schools do policy: Policy enactments in secondary schools. UK: Routledge. Bentz, V. M. & Shapiro, J. J. (1998). Mindful inquiry in social research. Thousand Oaks: Sage. Berger, P. L., & Luckmann, T. (1967). The social construction of reality: A treatise in the sociology of knowledge. UK: Penguin. Coburn, C. E. (2001). Collective sensemaking about reading: How teachers mediate reading policy in their professional communities. Educational evaluation and policy analysis, 23(2), 145-170. Coburn, C. E. (2005). Shaping teacher sensemaking: School leaders and the enactment of reading policy. Educational Policy, 19(3), 476-509. Creswell, J. (2007). Qualitative inquiry and research design: Choosing among five approaches. Thousand Oaks: Sage. Day, C. & Leithwood, K. (2007). Successful Principal Leadership in Times of Change. Dordrecht : Springer. Greeno, J. G., Collins, A. M., & Resnick, L. B. (1996). Cognition and Learning. IN D. C. Berliner & R. C. Calfee (Eds.), Handbook of educational psychology. New York: Macmillan Library Reference USA. OECD (2013), PISA 2012 Results: What Makes Schools Successful? Resources, Policies and Practices (Volume IV). PISA: OECD Publishing. Smerek, R. E. (2009). Sensemaking and sensegiving: Leadership processes of new college presidents (Unpublished doctoral dissertation). University of Michigan, USA. Spillane, J. (2015). Personal Email Communication. Spillane, J. P., Diamond, J. B., Burch, P., Hallett, T., Jita, L., & Zoltners, J. (2002a). Managing in the middle: School leaders and the enactment of accountability policy. Educational Policy, 16(5), 731-762. Spillane, J. P., Reiser, B. J., & Reimer, T. (2002b). Policy implementation and cognition: Reframing and refocusing implementation research. Review of educational research, 72(3), 387-431. Weick, K. E. (1995). Sense-making in organizations. Thousand Oaks: Sage. Weick, K. E., Sutcliffe, K. M., & Obstfeld, D. (2005). Organizing and the process of sensemaking. Organization science, 16(4), 409-421.
- Search for keywords and phrases in "Text Search"
- Restrict in which part of the abstracts to search in "Where to search"
- Search for authors and in the respective field.
- For planning your conference attendance you may want to use the conference app, which will be issued some weeks before the conference
- If you are a session chair, best look up your chairing duties in the conference system (Conftool) or the app.