AbstractsEducation Research & Administration

A study of the relationship between school climate and staff-development practices

by John G Docker

Institution: University of Tasmania
Year: 1988
Keywords: School environment; Teachers
Record ID: 1034196
Full text PDF: http://eprints.utas.edu.au/19549/1/whole_DockerJohnG1989_thesis.pdf


This thesis has two purposes. The first is to investigate the relationship between staff development and perceived climate in Tasmanian schools. The second purpose is to develop approaches to improving schools using the information gained from teachers about their perceptions of school climate and staff-development practices. In addition, research questions about school climate, staff-development practices, and related school-improvement activities are suggested and discussed. Most of the data used in this thesis were gathered during an evaluation of professional-development practices in Tasmanian schools during 1983-85. During this evaluation, year-long, intensive case studies were conducted in over thirty schools. Outcomes of these case studies included improvement of staff-development practices and development of a related policy in each school. The study is described in three main parts. In the first part, an extensive review of the literature about school climate and staff-development practices is presented. This review establishes relationships between the concepts of 'school climate' and 'staff-development practices'. The characteristics of the terms school climate and staff-development practices, the relationships between them, and the argument why research should be done to link these concepts, are discussed. School effectiveness literature is examined to further suggest why these two concepts are related. From this literature review the first part of the thesis is developed: the conceptual framework of the study. In the second part of the thesis the author explains why particular instruments were selected for the study. These instruments were the Work Environment Scale (WES) and the Readiness, Planning, Training, Implementation and Maintenance (RPTIM) model for schoolbased, staff-development practices. In this part, data for description and validation are provided for both instruments that have been used hitherto in a limited way in Australian schools. In the author's study, both instruments were used to measure teachers' perceptions of 'actual' and 'preferred' school climates and staff-development practices. The research reported in this thesis consolidates and extends previous research to validate the WES and the RPTIM instruments. The evidence suggests that both instruments have face validity and can be used with confidence in Australian schools. Analysis showed that both instruments possessed adequate internal consistency and discriminant validity if either an individual or a school mean was the unit of analysis. In addition, teachers in all schools were found to have similar perceptions about their 'preferred' work environments and the conduct of staff-development practices alike. However, the perceptions of the 'actual' environments elicited by both instruments differed between teachers in different types of schools: primary, grades K-6; high, grades 7-10; district high, grades K-10; colleges, grades 11-12. That is, some schools and some types of schools…