09 SES 13 A, School Culture and Civic Engagement in Schools
This study had three primary goals, which were dependent on one another: (a) to explore whether a shared concept, 'school ethical culture' (SEC), emerged from teachers' TIMSS data. If SEC were to be found, then our derived goals were: (b) to find the meaning of SEC using a cross-national approach; and (c) to investigate the SEC’s effect through predicting science achievements among countries participating in TIMSS 2015.
Our motivation to find a shared meaning for the concept 'school ethical culture' connects to international assessments in education, such as TIMSS, which focuses on the existence of common ethical aspects in participating countries, such as equity and quality (Mullis, Martin, Foy, & Hooper, 2016). In this study, we focus on countries that participated in the TIMSS 2015 because, for the last 20 years, TIMSS reports have exposed ethical meaning by identifying gaps in resources, opportunities, inequity and equity issues (Mullis, Martin, & Loveles, 2016).
Confusion around the Definitions of Culture and Climate in the Context of Ethics
We are aware that previous studies have adapted different approaches concerning the use of definitions and distinctions between culture and climate. For example, Schein (2010) considered climate as an artifact of culture, and defined culture as shared norms, values, and assumptions. Earlier, Denison (1996) perceived that culture and climate are not fundamentally different.
However, based on additional studies, we argue that ethical culture and ethical climate are distinct from one another. For example, Kaptein (2011) distinguished between ethical culture and ethical climate, explaining that ethical culture presents the actual conditions for ethical behaviors, while ethical climate can be defined as the expectations of stakeholders about what constitutes ethical behavior in the organization. In support of our argument, Treviño, Butterfield, & McCabe (1998) found that although ethical culture and climate are highly correlated, there is a difference between the two: ethical climate relates to attitudes while ethical culture relates more to influences on behaviors. Therefore, according to their approach, ethical culture explained unethical behavior better than ethical climate did.
Considering the fact that there are numerous studies dealing with school ethical climates, and no studies that consider ethical culture in schools, this study is pioneering in its approach. It looks for a meaning for the concept ethical culture in schools in a cross-national perspective.
School Ethical Culture
'Organizational culture', often delineated by shared values (Schein, 2010), is the informal control system of an organization that comprises common traditions (Ruiz-Palomino & Martínez-Cañas, 2014). As a subset of organizational culture, the 'Ethical Culture' (EC)of an organization encompasses the expectations as to how the organization may encourage its members to behave ethically (Trevino & Weaver, 2003). Thus, EC is defined as those aspects of the perceived organizational context that may promote ethical behavior and reduce unethical behavior (Ruiz-Palomino, Martínez-Cañas, & Fontrodona, 2013).
Based on Kaptein’s research (2011), EC in schools can be viewed as resulting from the interplay between the formal(e.g., educational policy) and informal (e.g., colleagues’ behavior, norms concerning school ethics) systems that potentially enhance ethical behavior among teachers. In essence, based on previous studies (e.g., Kish-Gephart, Harrison, & Treviño, 2010), EC relates to what the organization is about in practice, pertaining to the conditions for ethical and unethical behavior.
In the present study we examined whether the meaning of school ethical culturecould be generated from the TIMSS 2015 teachers' questionnaires. We chose this methodological approach since the questionnaire taps teachers' perceptions of items that appear to reflect ethical conditions in schools. Furthermore, there was support for our approach, since previous studies have elicited additional factors based on TIMSS questionnaires (e.g., Marsh et al., 2013).
Context and sample The current study focuses on teachers' TIMSS 2015 questionnaire responses in relation to 8th grade students’ science achievements in 45 countries. There were 8,353 schools in the TIMSS dataset (in most of the schools, one teacher responded in each school). To accomplish the study purpose, data were based on: (a) questionnaires completed by teachers, focusing mainly on their challenges, satisfaction, professional development, and experiences in teaching, and (b) their students' achievements, based on questionnaires focusing on the science curriculum. Our analyses was based on a dataset available to all on the TIMSS website that already codes all the relevant items in the teachers' and students’ questionnaires. Data Analysis We used SPSS V.24.0 (SPSS Inc. 2017) and Mplus V.8.0 (Muthen & Muthen 2017) for exploratory and confirmatory factoring and for hypothesis testing models. Aggregation. For the purpose of this study, we aggregated cases of multiple teachers within a single school into a single mean teacher's record per school. In this way, only two levels appear in the data: the school level (level one) and the country level (level two). Weighting. We found that the distribution of the number of schools in each country ranged between 48 schools (Malta) and 477 schools (United Arab Emirates). The analyses required that the number of schools within a country would be similar across all 45 countries. Therefore, we constructed a country weight (COUWGT) that equalized the number of schools across countries (M=186). That is, when the number is lower, the weight inflates it to the mean, and if it is higher, the weight deflates it to the mean. Plausible data. We used a procedure that considered the five plausible values. The TIMSS data provide students' scores in a plausible value format. There are five imputed values that are substituted for the single score per student. Plausible values are imputations that are meant to avoid a single measurement of a test score and they include a prior distribution, rather than a point estimate (von Davier, Gonzalez & Mislevy 2009). This approach is commonly used in large-scale data, which have fewer measurements or one measurement per respondent at level one. Note that for the teachers' data, we retained the plausible format by aggregating each plausible value into the school level.
In regards to our first and second goals, which were to explore whether a shared concept of 'school ethical culture' emerged, and to find the meaning of SEC, we found a shared concept of SEC which includes four dimensions. Three of these dimensions ('Care for students' learning', 'interaction with colleagues', and 'respect of rules') are highly similar across the 45 countries, while 'teachers' profession' is less similar. Nevertheless, this dimension significantly appeared at the teachers’ level in the exploratory factor analysis and in the confirmatory factor analysis. Regarding our third goal, to investigate the SEC effect through predicting cross-national science achievements, we conclude that the shared SEC across countries predicts students' science achievements. This reflects different levels of effects between the SEC's dimension and the students' science achievements. In particular, our findings about the school level reflected positive relationships between the different dimensions of SEC and students' science achievements. However, on the country level, we found that when the dimensions of 'teachers' profession' and 'interaction with colleagues' were higher, students' achievements were lower. An explanation for this finding might relate to the concept 'marginal addition'. In high achievement countries, teachers may perceive the effect of the 'teacher's profession' and 'interaction with colleagues' as not being so important, in comparison to countries that have low academic achievement, since the former are already high on the achievement level. Therefore, these factors do not significantly contribute to their viewpoints. In sum, our findings may support a universal perspective, showing how common values, such as different dimensions of SEC, affect student achievements. However, the different impact of these dimensions on student achievements and the different perceptions of the 'teachers' profession' in the countries may be explained by the national context, which depends on specific policies and politics of each country.
Denison, D. R. (1996). What is the difference between organizational culture and organizational climate? A native's point of view on a decade of paradigm wars. Academy of Management Review, 21(3), 619-654. Kaptein, M. (2011). From inaction to external whistleblowing: The influence of the ethical culture of organisations on employee responses to observed wrongdoing. Journal of Business Ethics, 98(3), 513-530. Kish-Gephart, J. J., Harrison, D. A., & Treviño, L. K. (2010). Bad apples, bad cases, and bad barrels: Meta-analytic evidence about sources of unethical decisions at work. Journal of Applied Psychology, 15(1), 1-31. Marsh, H. W., Abduljabbar, A. S., Morin, A. J., Parker, P., Abdelfattah, F., Nagengast, B., & Abu-Hilal, M. M. (2015). The big-fish-little-pond effect: Generalizability of social comparison processes over two age cohorts from Western, Asian, and Middle Eastern Islamic countries. Journal of Educational Psychology, 107(1), 258. Mullis, I.V.S., Martin, M.O., & Loveles, T. (2016). 20 Years of TIMSS: International trends in mathematics and science achievement, curriculum, and instruction. Boston, MA: TIMSS & PIRLS International Study Center, Lynch School of Education, Boston College. Ruiz-Palomino, P., & Martínez-Cañas, R. (2014). Ethical culture, ethical intent, and Organizational citizenship behavior: The moderating and mediating role of person–organisation fit. Journal of Business Ethics, 120(1), 95-108. Ruiz-Palomino, P., Martínez-Cañas, R., & Fontrodona, J. (2013). Ethical culture and employee outcomes: The mediating role of person-organisation fit. Journal of Business Ethics, 116(1), 173-188. Schein, E. H. (2010). Organizational culture and leadership (Vol. 2). San Francisco, CA: John Wiley & Sons. Treviño, L. K., Butterfield, K. D., & McCabe, D. L. (1998). The ethical context in organizations: Influences on employee attitudes and behaviors. Business Ethics Quarterly, 8(3), 447-476. Treviño, L. K., & Weaver, G. R. (2003). Managing ethics in business organizations: Social scientific perspective. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press. von Davier M., Gonzalez E. & Mislevy R. (2009). What are plausible values and why are they useful? Where was it published? IERI Monograph Series Issues and Methodologies in Large-Scale Assessments. IER Institute. Educational Testing Service.
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