32 SES 11 A, Schools as Learning Organizations
Organizational learning is the core concept of organizational educational research. If organizations are understood from an organizational pedagogical perspective as "human social structures" (Göhlich 2014) by people for people, organizational learning can be defined as a process of practices, in which organizations engage in further developing their content, structures, and cultures. They do so immanently as well as in contrast to their surroundings (Göhlich et al. 2016, p. 310).
Taken this understanding of organizational learning as a starting point, the research project presented in this paper seeks to analyze and conceptualize school development as a process of organizational learning. From an organizational educational perspective, the focus of school-based organizational learning must lie on organizational practices rather than concentrating on organizational structures (e.g. Dalin & Rolff 1990, Rolff 2016). This project thereby contributes to existing literature by pursuing an organizational educational perspective on school development that has so far not been addressed in depth (an exception is Göhlich 2008).
Analyzing organizational learning processes, organizational education focuses on the meso level of organizations (Göhlich et al. 2016). Meanwhile, it understands the meso-level as being embedded in a multi-level setting. Consequently, the meso level of organizational learning cannot be understood without a) individual (learning) processes and interactions of the micro level and b) societal and institutional setting on the macro level. As such, both micro and macro level, individuals and society, must be explored theoretically and empirically in order to consistently approach the subject of interest (Göhlich et al. 2016, p. 311).
While there exist contributions regarding the micro-level of school development (e.g. research on the leadership actions of school administrators and head teachers, Amtmann & de Fontana 2020), the influence of the macro-level on the organizational learning of schools, in particular, has so far been paid little attention in (organizational-educational) school development research.
This project therefore proposes a social-theoretical analysis of school-organizational learning processes, arguing that the dynamics and complex structure of interdependent conditions at the school's micro, meso and macro level, can only be conceptualized comprehensively if taking into consideration broader societal trends, expectations and prescriptions.
Recent studies (including Müller & Fahrenwald 2020; Ammann 2020; Kanape & Kemethofer 2017) indicate potential contradictions and conflictual relationships between a) external expectations and specifications (of the school administration, stakeholders etc.) and b) orientations and daily practices perceived as relevant within schools themselves. Social, political and economic demands constitute the reality within which school development takes place, however they seem to be in stark contrast to the actors’ ambitions to implement progressive learning communities.
In this regard societal demands, as well as the general political objectives of the current school development discourse and its legitimation processes need to be analyzed as significant factors for school development processes.
In summary, the aim of the presented paper is to complement the organizational educational analysis of school development processes with a social-theoretical foundation that allows a better understanding of the suggested tensions that school development experiences in regard to its actors’ and stakeholders’ interests on both institutional and school level.
To explore the complex structure of the different levels of interest as well as their interdependency on the meso level, this project employs a multimethod qualitative research design incorporating document analyses and structured expert interviews. The document analysis focuses on current Austrian school development instruments as well as governmental policy papers on education and school development (included timeframe 2000 until today). Seeking to uncover the underlying rational and legitimation of the respective documents by the means of content analysis, the current macro-framework of school development in education policy is reconstructed. The micro-level of school development processes is analyzed through qualitative expert interviews with school administrators and teachers who are in charge of school development at their schools. The aim is to reveal the perceptions, attitudes and experiences of the actors in the field of school development. A particular focus lies on the assessment of the educational policy and administrative regulations described above and their implementation on the school level. The sample consists of six schools of all school types (elementary school, middle school, high school) in Upper Austria. In order to remain open for emerging properties, the content-analytical evaluation in both cases allows for both inductive and deductive category formation (Creswell 2014, p.186). The distinctive feature of the presented multimethod design lies in the conduction of methods, which are “each conducted rigorously and complete in itself, in one project. The results are then triangulated to form a complete whole” (Morse 2003, p. 190). The presented paper discusses results of the document analysis of current school development instruments as well as interview results collected in two different points in time. Preliminary results show diverging ideas about the social role of schools as well as the intended goals and desirable content of learning. In addition, different (and variously successful) ways of dealing with external demands or managing contradictions have been found on the part of schools, which represent learning processes.
The overall goal of the presented research project is to analyze the learning experiences and learning challenges within school development processes. To this end, it is necessary to examine the contradictory relationship between the societal and political framework of school processes on the one hand, and everyday experiences in schools on the other. This can only be realized comprehensively with a social-theoretical foundation of school-organizational learning processes. With regard to the subject of the conference, the question arises how or whether a mediation – or even reconciliation – of these outlined conflicting interests is currently taking place or how it might be accomplished in the future. Organizational education as a sub-discipline of pedagogy is committed toward the humanity of (the content of) learning and the humanity of organizations in general (Göhlich et al. 2016, p. 309). As such, the authors suggest that it must be in the interest of organizational-educational school development research to detach the concept of school development from its current managerial, technocratic logic of increasing efficiency and usability in favor of a participatory school development in the interests of the actors on the micro level (students, teachers, school administrators) themselves. The presented project aims to make a theoretical and empirical contribution to this end.
Ammann M.; Wiesner, Ch. & Schratz, M. (2020). Über das Zusammenwirken von Schulaufsicht und Schulleiterinnen und Schulleitern: Einblicke in die Qualitätsinitiative Schulqualität Allgemeinbildung am Beispiel des Bilanz- und Zielvereinbarungsgesprächs. In E. D. Klein & N. Bremm (Hrsg.), Unterstützung – Kooperation – Kontrolle. Zum Verhältnis von Schulaufsicht und Schulleitung in der Schulentwicklung (pp. 191-216). Wiesbaden: VS Springer. Amtmann, E. & de Fontana, O (2020). Verantwortung und Macht im schulischen Führungshandeln. In C. Fahrenwald, N. Engel & A. Schröer (Hrsg.), Organisation und Verantwortung (S. 111-124). Organisation und Pädagogik 27. Wiesbaden: VS Springer. Creswell, J. (2014). Research design: Qualitative, quantitative, and mixed methods approaches (4. ed., internat. student ed.). Los Angeles, Calif. [u.a.]: Sage. Dalin, P. & Rolff H.-G. (1990). Institutioneller Schulentwicklungsprozess. Bönen: Soester Verlagskontor. Göhlich, M. (2008). Schulentwicklung als Machbarkeitsvision. Eine Re-Vision im Horizont professioneller Ungewissheit, In W. Helsper, M. Hummrich, R.-T. Kramer & S. Busse (Hrsg.), Pädagogische Professionalität in Organisationen (pp. 263-276). Wiesbaden: VS Verlag. Göhlich, M., Weber, S. M. & Schröer, A. u. a. (2016). Forschungsmemorandum Organisationspädagogik. In A. Schröer, M. Göhlich, S. M. Weber & H. Pätzold (Hrsg.), Organisation und Theorie (pp. 307-319). Organisation und Pädagogik 18. Wiesbaden: VS Springer. Kanape, A. & Kemethofer D. (2017). Schulleitung in Österreich: Zwischen Steuerung und Autonomie. In A. Paseka, M. Heinrich, A. Kanape & R. Langer, Schulentwicklung zwischen Steuerung und Autonomie : Beiträge aus Aktions-, Schulentwicklungs- und Governance-Forschung (pp. 119-136). Waxmann Verlag GmbH. Morse, J. M. (2003). Principles of mixed methods and multimethod research design. In A. Tashakkori & C. Teddlie (Eds.), Handbook of mixed methods in social and behavioural research (pp. 189–208). Thousand Oaks: Sage. Müller, N. & Fahrenwald, C. (2020). Demokratische Schulentwicklung zwischen Theorie und Praxis. In Mensching, A., Engel, N., Fahrenwald, C., Hunold, M. & Weber, S.M. (Hrsg.), Organisation zwischen Theorie und Praxis. 3. Jahrbuch Organisationspädagogik. Wiesbaden: VS Springer. (Submitted) Rolff, H.-G. (2016). Schulentwicklung kompakt. Modelle, Instrumente, Perspektiven. 3. ed. Weinheim und Basel: Beltz.
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