01 SES 11 C, Learning in High Performance and Extended Professional Contexts
The question of what variables affect student achievement and learning is an important research area for education organizations. Researches show that the development and effectiveness of schools in terms of student learning is affected by many factors (Walker, 2010). These elements reflected in the literature are studied through research topics such as effective school movement (Edmonds, 1979), teacher qualification (Darling-Hammond, 2000), school leadership (Day & Leithwood, 2007; Hallinger, 2011), professional learning communities (Carpenter, 2015; DuFour, 2004), organizational learning (Collinson & Cook, 2006), and collective teacher competencies (Goddard, Hoy & Woolfolk Hoy, 2000).
Researches suggest that a supportive and positive learning culture should be established in order to build schools that promote academic achievement, confidence, and social development for all students (Day, Gu & Sammons, 2016; Goldring, Porter, Murphy, Elliott, & Cravens, 2009; Walker, 2010). Jackie Beere has developed a hierarchy of needs for learning schools titled “Learning to learn: Hierarchy of needs”. According to this framework, positive learning environment was determined as the first step (Middlewood, Parker & Beere, 2005). Moreover, norms and belief systems are emphasized as organizational features that support learning (Leithwood, Leonard & Sharratt, 1998). In this context, the concept of culture of learning, which focuses on the social, affective and cognitive development of the students, constitutes a framework for conducting the learning process more effectively (Deal & Peterson, 2009; Hill, 2011; Taylor, 2013; Walker, 2010; Schein, 2010).
The culture of learning is defined as observable and unobservable processes, structures, norms, communication patterns that support learning for all (Hill, 2011). Tichnor-Wagner, Harrison and Cohen-Vogel (2016) suggested that culture of learning consists of four basic components. These are cooperation among adults, community of learning among adults, supports for a culture of learning among adults, and culture of learning among students. Deal and Peterson (2009) stated that schools with an effective learning culture have some characteristics. According to this, teachers in these schools always seek innovative ways to serve their students. Teachers act as a team. Student performances are closely monitored. Everyone in these schools is dedicated to learning (Deal & Peterson, 2009).
In schools with effective learning culture, there are high expectations that all students will be successful. Leaders work to establish and maintain a learning culture through participatory leadership, purposeful arrangements, and supporting structures for cooperation (Tichnor-Wagner et al., 2016). Teachers take an active responsibility to understand, develop and control the quality of their professional work. (Preston, Goldring, Guthrie, Ramsey & Huff, 2017). In these schools, the family is considered as an important stakeholder.
There is a growing tendency that the learning environment and context have a very important impact on the performance of schools (Deal & Peterson, 2009; Tichnor-Wagner et al., 2016; Walker, 2010). Secondary schools with distinctive learning cultures can be considered as an important educational stage where students acquire basic knowledge and skills for various disciplines and receive desired behaviours and habits. Although there are many studies on secondary schools for student learning, there is limited study on culture of learning as an important element in student learning. In particular, it is a mystery how high-performance secondary schools have a learning culture and how this learning culture makes a difference on students’ academic achievements (Supovitz, Sirinides & May, 2010). The purpose of this study is to understand and analyse the culture of learning in a high-performance secondary school. The research questions developed for this purpose are:
- How is the culture of learning in a high-performance secondary school for employees and students?
- What are the components of culture of learning that make a high-performance secondary school different from other schools?
In this research, case study will be used. The main purpose of the case studies is to examine and understand the situation in depth (Stake, 2013). The situation in this study was determined as culture of learning in a high-performance secondary school. It is worth researching because there are a culture of learning that distinguish this school from others. In this context, a high-performance school in the central districts of Ankara will be examined in depth. In the selection of school, the top 20 schools with the highest achievement in the entrance exam to central high schools will be determined. Then the “school effectiveness” scale on these schools will be applied. Finally, research will be conducted on the school with the highest score from the school effectiveness scale. Teachers, students, administrators, and other employees will be the sample of the research. In this research, data collection tools such as observation, interview and document analysis will be used. Interviews and focus group interviews with school administrators, teachers, students and parents (in case of required interview permissions) will be conducted. In addition, it will examine the documents that provide evidences related to school’s social environment, culture of learning and climate. Finally, school and classroom observations are planned to analyse the learning eco-system in school and classroom. The data collected during the research process will be analysed immediately. In data analysis, a thematic content analysis will be used. In this study, some strategies to achieve valid and reliable results will be used. To increase the validity and reliability of the research, long-term interaction, deep-focus data collection, detailed description, triangulation, and confirmation review will be implemented (Yıldırım & Şimşek, 2016).
The aim of this study is to provide comprehensive and in-depth data from the participants on culture of learning in the high-performance school. It is expected that the data obtained from teachers, students, and school administrators will provide explanations for culture of learning in the high-performance school. In this respect, the following possible results are expected: • The types of learning culture in the high-performance secondary school • The components of learning culture in this school • The features that make this school different from others At the end of the research, suggestions will be put forward for the practitioners, researchers and policy makers in the field.
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