Ah-ha! A CCLUE: identifying the essence and significance of a contextually specific meaning system in three Australian schools engaged in on-going school improvement

Abawi, Lindy ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-2248-5275 (2012) Ah-ha! A CCLUE: identifying the essence and significance of a contextually specific meaning system in three Australian schools engaged in on-going school improvement. [Thesis (PhD/Research)]

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Drawing on personal experience, as well as the lived experiences of others, this thesis investigates the place that a pedagogically rich language-in-use holds in three schools striving for school improvement. This Australian research has been conducted in schools that have undertaken the Innovative Designs for Enhancing Achievement in Schools (IDEAS) process in an effort to improve outcomes for students. Adherence to process protocols and the use of on-going professional conversations has seen significant changes in leadership and pedagogical practices take place within these schools. A manifestation of these changes can be found in the way each school community now interacts and communicates resulting in a unique meaning system emerging which is both pedagogical and metaphorical by nature.

This thesis incorporates knowledge from a wide range of fields related to school improvement including: organisational change; workplace stress; school restructuring; school leadership; capacity building; the creation of learning communities; meaning making systems; organisational culture; and, common language as a sign of cultural identity, shared understandings and knowledge creation. The research approach lies within a view that knowledge is socially constructed and that learning is a socio-cognitive process where new knowledge is co-created through exploring understandings with others in a continual cycle of practice and reflection. The data from leaders and teachers within these schools was analysed for the lived experiences that each participant had of the language construct under investigation.

The three schools involved were Primary schools and varied considerably in their contexts, with two schools being part of a State Education system and the third being from a Catholic Education context. The two state schools are in Queensland, while the Catholic school is situated in New South Wales. At the time of data collection, the smallest school had a student population of around 70 students while the largest had approximately 480 students enrolled. Situational contexts varied from a small rural community to a large suburban one. All schools and their staff are identified by pseudonyms alone. Data were collected through individual interviews with teachers and school leaders, group sessions with school staff and classroom observations of general classroom practice focussing on the visual and verbal language on display. In addition the multifaceted texts of each school, such as newsletters, websites, posters, display boards, and other cultural artefacts, were analysed for their contribution to the meaning system under investigation.

A hermeneutic phenomenological approach was taken to explore these experiences.Within this approach, the works of Merleau-Ponty, Dilthey, Ricouer and van Manen have been drawn upon and combined to produce a distilling process that reduces the multiple voices within the data down to the essence of the phenomenon in question - thus answering the over-arching research question: What is the underlying significance of a contextually constructed language-in-use within the life-world of three Australian schools engaged in on-going school improvement?

The findings of this research are substantial as they point the way to the elusive goal of sustainable school improvement made possible through cultural change processes which facilitate and are facilitated by a contextually specific meaning system. The underlying pre-requisites for the development of such a meaning system are closely tied to the school improvement process itself and the development of distributed leadership practices which in turn lead to the building of a new school culture. In addition contributions are made to the field of hermeneutic phenomenological research and communication theory.

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Item Type: Thesis (PhD/Research)
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information: Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) thesis.
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Historic - Faculty of Education (Up to 30 Jun 2013)
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Historic - Faculty of Education (Up to 30 Jun 2013)
Supervisors: Andrews, Dorothy
Date Deposited: 12 Jul 2012 00:30
Last Modified: 22 Jul 2021 04:48
Uncontrolled Keywords: Innovative Designs for Enhancing Achievement in Schools; IDEAS; school improvement; primary schools
Fields of Research (2008): 13 Education > 1303 Specialist Studies in Education > 130304 Educational Administration, Management and Leadership
13 Education > 1399 Other Education > 139999 Education not elsewhere classified
Fields of Research (2020): 39 EDUCATION > 3904 Specialist studies in education > 390403 Educational administration, management and leadership
39 EDUCATION > 3999 Other Education > 399999 Other education not elsewhere classified
URI: http://eprints.usq.edu.au/id/eprint/21523

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