ERIC Number: ED283295
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 1980-Apr
Individualism and Collectivism: Teacher Sense of Autonomy in the Multiunit Elementary School.
Charters, W. W., Jr.
Building on previous investigations of the effects of team-organized instructional arrangements on elementary school teachers' sense of autonomy, this report reexamines data from 14 multiunit schools which still retained the team instructional plan at the end of the second year of implementation. Indicators measured were interdependent teaching arrangements, unit activeness (i.e., the extent to which members of a teaching unit assumed collective responsibility for management tasks) and principal and teacher-group influence. The central question the study sought to answer was why prior investigations of multiunit schools had failed to find marked declines in autonomy indexes as a result of the introduction of the plan. Three lines of inquiry were pursued. The first concerned the possibility that teachers in more active units, in schools where the plan had proceeded furthest, would be likely to suffer greater autonomy loss than those in units less affected by the innovation; however, this hypothesis was not supported. Next investigated was the possibility that the multiunit plan could bring to some high status teachers a central role in governing the work of the team and hence a high degree of autonomy that would cancel out autonomy losses among the rank and file; again, results were negative. The third inquiry concerned the possibility that with the development of a significant collegial group, teachers could gain autonomy enhancing benefits from the group that would offset the loss of freedom associated with collective control of teaching. The findings here indicated that autonomy feelings were the result of countervailing forces--an autonomy-depressing force associated with team control of classroom decisions or principal's surveillance, and an autonomy-enhancing force emanating from the ability of teacher groups to influence the educational affairs of the school. The tentative conclusion of the study is that teachers' feelings of autonomy did not decline in the multiunit schools primarily because such feelings were attached less strongly to the actual work relations among teachers than they were to the school's power and authority relations. Two reference pages and research measures are appended. (CJH)
Descriptors: Comparative Analysis, Concurrent Validity, Elementary Education, Instructional Innovation, Multiunit Schools, Organizational Theories, Participative Decision Making, Power Structure, Professional Autonomy, Questionnaires, Research Methodology, Role Theory, School Organization, Teacher Attitudes, Teacher Influence, Team Teaching
Publication Type: Reports - Research; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Sponsor: National Inst. of Education (DHEW), Washington, DC.; Spencer Foundation, Chicago, IL.
Authoring Institution: Oregon Univ., Eugene. Center for Educational Policy and Management.