ERIC Number: ED412603
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1996-Apr
Reference Count: N/A
Paying Attention: Content Considered by Experts and Others When Responding to a Case Problem. [Revised.]
Morfitt, Grace; Demaerschalk, Dawn; Allison, Derek J.
How do more experienced school administrators think about and attend to problems in school administration? This paper presents findings of a study that compared how principals and aspiring principals cognitively processed and solved a problem scenario. A total of 30 practicing principals and 24 aspiring principals (referred to as the "novice group") were asked to give "think-aloud" responses to a hypothetical problem situation involving a school library. After the data were collected, participating principals were assigned to imputed-expertise groups using a battery of external measures. The sample included 28 females and 26 males. Findings indicate that principals in the high-expertise group attended to more of the sampled topic elements than did other principals and the novice subjects. Although there was no difference between the number of topics thought about by the novices and the principals who were not classified in the high-imputed expertise groups, the novices tended to focus on more peripheral topic elements than did the principals, who tended to concentrate on issues associated with library policy and operations. The emphasis was even more marked for high-expertise principals, who tended to think at greater length about the purpose of the library and library policy than did other principals. Additionally, the more expert principals considered topic elements that were generally ignored by their colleagues, such as the issue of staff disputes, book thefts, and budget concerns. The findings can be interpreted through the framework provided by schema theory, the more complex problem-relevant schemata of the principals acting to direct their attention to more central elements of the case, and the even more richly constituted schemata of the more expert principals. Six figures and three tables are included. (Contains 7 references.) (LMI)
Publication Type: Reports - Research; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Sponsor: Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, Ottawa (Ontario).
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Revision of paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association (New York, NY, April 8-12, 1996).