Dr. Molly Lauck: My name is Dr. Molly Lauck; I’m the director of the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs in the Center for Research Support. In my role, I have the honor of chairing the committee that’s charged with reviewing all of the wonderfully thought-provoking doctoral studies that are nominated by the faculty for the Frank Dilley Award for Outstanding Doctoral Study. This award is bestowed upon a graduate whose doctoral study is judged as meeting the highest academic standards of excellence and as having extraordinary potential for impact on a field, discipline, or industry.
Dr. Valerie Lyle received her doctorate in education from Walden and is the recipient of the 2011 Frank Dilley Award for Outstanding Doctoral Study. Her doctor study, Teacher and Administrator Perceptions of Administrative Responsibilities for Implementing the Jacobs Model of Curriculum Mapping uses original case study research to identify specific leadership factors that impede implementation of curricular and instructional practices. Dr. Lyle’s findings have significant implications for school administrators and teachers who need to be proactive in creating an environment conducive to positive social change. Dr. Lyle’s doctoral study committee chair is Dr. Deanna Boddie, a faculty member in The Richard W. Riley College of Education and Leadership. A stellar mentor, Dr. Boddie has conducted research related to curriculum, instruction, and assessment for instructional programs in public and private schools. No stranger to student accolades, her advice to doctoral candidates is to take the doctoral study one chapter at a time. An inspiration to her mentees, she has worked closely with instructional programs in English language arts, social studies, science, math, and the fine arts and gifted education.
The intellectual and practical importance of Dr. Lyle’s research reminds us all of what’s possible here at Walden. We have asked Dr. Steve Wells, interim associate dean of Walden’s Ed.D. program to lead the discussion with Dr. Lyle and Dr. Boddie. Dr. Wells is a skilled researcher and presenter. He has presented internationally on educational leaderships, fine arts advocacy, and international education. His careful consideration of teaching methodology gives him a valuable perspective on the importance of interactive learning. Dr. Wells’ questions today will guide this presentation as Dr. Lyle recounts her experiences—everything from the sleepless nights she experienced to the satisfaction of research’s discoveries that brought her to where she is today. And of course, we invite you to take part in this conversation, as well with your own questions at the end of the panel presentation. And now it’s my pleasure to welcome Dr. Valerie Lyle, Dr. Boddie, and Dr. Steve Wells.
Dr. Steve Wells: We’re getting plugged in. Good morning. Am I plugged in properly? Good. Hey, I think I’m getting the ball game on this. I am just delighted to be here with all of you this morning and delighted to be here with my colleagues. Dr. Boddie and Dr. Lyle, we’re so proud of you. So proud of the award you’ve won.
Dr. Valerie Lyle: Thank you.
Dr. Wells: And I do have a script of questions, but just between you and me, I’m going to try, knowing all of you and the live audiences as I do, to give Dr. Lyle some of the same questions as you’ve been asking us at the residency this week as well, and try to give a little bit of perspective there. I think it will be very valuable time. And when we’re finished, you’ll have an opportunity to ask your questions, so when that time comes, please be prepared and don’t be shy. So I was just reading your abstract a few minutes ago, and I don’t want you to quote your abstract, but can you give us a brief overview of your research?
Dr. Lyle: My overview, to kind of give you an idea of what it was I was trying to do; I had two main purposes for my research and both of them dealt with leadership for implementing the Jacobs model. I wanted to examine and describe from the perspective of the teachers and the administrators what they felt that the roles and responsibilities should be during that implementation process and then to examine and describe the impact of leadership on the perceptions of the teachers as to the sustainability of the initiative within the district.
Dr. Wells: Explain to us what the Jacobs Model of Curriculum Mapping is— just real briefly—so we kind of know what you’re talking about.
Dr. Lyle: The Jacobs model is a complex systemic change model and it works as a framework for positive social change in that it builds leadership capacity and engages administrators and teachers in collaborative efforts to kind of identify and address curricular issues from not only the perspective of what’s happening in the classroom or the building, but the interconnectiveness of districtwide, so you get that macro and micro vision of what’s going on.
Dr. Wells: So this is a process for preK through 12 public school curriculum mapping, but it’s systemic.
Dr. Lyle: It is.
Dr. Wells: Were you involved in that before you began your study?
Dr. Lyle: Yes, actually one of the reasons why I became interested in the mapping process was because I was going to be handed some teacher leadership responsibilities. I was going to be asked by the administrators to help coordinate this K–12 initiative. So I had a reason to start my degree.
Dr. Wells: Great, so what you ended up turning into a doctor’s degree was really something that happened on your job and then you just kind of leveraged it into a doctor’s degree. And it became very relevant to your life.
Dr. Lyle: Yes, it did.
Dr. Wells: Notice that little kind of a kind of hint there. You might have noticed. I didn’t mean to be so subtle on that. But it’s a very practical degree. Tell us more about that.
Dr. Lyle: What was really important, I felt so passionately in the potential of the model for resulting in positive social change, but I also felt just as passionately that it was going to pose a lot of leadership challenges for my very traditional school district, and I knew from my review of literature on my own before I started my degree, if I was going to have a positive impact I needed to understand more about leadership strategies as a change agent. So I started my degree with that intent and the beauty of the Walden, I’m going to make a plug for Walden ...
Dr. Wells: Oh, please do!
Dr. Lyle: <Laughs> Impromptu here.
Dr. Wells: I won’t stop, I won’t interfere.
Dr. Lyle: The beauty of the Walden program was that I had started with a specific purpose in mind, and I was allowed to kind of frame every class assignment around that purpose. So that as I went through, it helped me to refine my thought processes and to refine my research design and my questions, so that by the time I was ready to actually start, you know, I had practice piloting through the qualitative. I had done all these things one step at a time, all the way through. So that was the beauty of the Walden …
Dr. Wells: Great. So you were already very familiar with your topic.
Dr. Valerie Lyle: Oh yes. I lived four years of it, so yes.
Dr. Wells: And your research was actually done in the school district where you were employed.
Dr. Lyle: Yes.
Dr. Wells: And I noticed on the screen that you have theoretical proposition, not all students have a theoretical proposition as such. Tell us what that is and how you decided on that.
Dr. Lyle: Well, that’s one of the things that Yin really requires, well suggests, that you do to help focus your data collection and your data analysis and it was one thing that Dr. Boddie really kind of wanted me to hone in on.
Dr. Deanna Boddie: It’s what guides the data collection and data analysis. It’s not a theory in the grand design of theory, but it is a proposition that comes out of your study that you use to help you with data collection and data analysis. And I find it helps students a great deal to have that established, that proposition established in chapter three so that when your proposal is approved then your data collection and analysis can come together through that proposition and you can see whether or not you’ve actually approved that proposition or not, or did you come up with some other rival explanations. So it’s very helpful for organization.
Dr. Lyle: And it helps you to identify if you have a discrepant case, which is not a bad thing, that’s a good thing.
Dr. Boddie: No, that’s right, not a bad thing, right. <Laughs>
Dr. Wells: Excellent. So was that a difficult thing to narrow that into a single composition.
Dr. Boddie: Oh yeah, we had a number of discussions on the phone. It’s not the kind of thing. It’s difficult to email that sometimes, so we talked on the phone about that and I think you have to be kind of loose with that at first; what is it that you’re really trying to frame here and so, yeah, we talked a lot about that.
Dr. Wells: And this is while she was beginning to frame out her research methodology chapter?
Dr. Boddie: Well, we actually, we worked a little backwards because we had some changes in the committee structure. The person who originally was the chair became ill and then retired from the university. The methodologist, how I entered the committee, was the methodologist also had a serious health problem, and so I became the methodologist at first, and then when the methodologist left and the chair, then I became the chairperson.
Dr. Lyle: And she actually joined after I already had IRB approval, already had collected data and was ready for that chapter four so she had a huge job.
Dr. Boddie: Yeah, so we went back then and it was my goal then to make that a really unified study. The thing that was so neat about what Valerie had done is that she was already using a lot of the resources that I like for—case study is kind of my thing—and so she was using Robert K. Yin’s resource and Stake, and Merriam, some of you know those resources I’m sure. And that was extremely helpful for the methodology piece. So we went back and we tightened that up and I think the thing that was so impressive to me about Valerie, was that she was willing to do that. You know she technically, she’d probably didn’t have to do that. She had URR approval already. But she went back and we both said, you know, I said to her early on, I think this is a study that could be nominated, let’s tighten that up as much as we can; let’s really make that methodology work for us, and that was what she did. She spent some time doing that and it helped, I think, with the overall design for unity.
Dr. Wells: And the thing that really strikes me about this, and I’m not sure where a lot of you come from, but it is rather common, we are in adult education and things do happen in our lives and various things, so it’s fairly common that a committee membership will change. In my doctoral program, I changed one of my committees, and here’s a person who had a couple of changes in her committee and she won this big-time award. So these things do happen and what was your attitude when all of a sudden you had a new committee member? Did you just kind of say, well, I’m going to…what did you do?
Dr. Lyle: I, well actually, my typical way of handling things is to go with the flow and look for opportunities to build upon it, to strengthen it, and that’s what I found with Dr. Boddie. She had some insights and some experiences aligned with mine, so ...
Dr. Boddie: Well, and I think the part that we really got kind of excited about was when Dr. Chen left the university when he retired, he knew that I had this interest in case study research, but I also had an interest in curriculum mapping. Because I had been in Minnesota for years and years and years working with suburban districts in curriculum and instruction and assessment, and we had done that initiative not successfully. We had a lot of issues with it and so I was real interested in Valerie’s study content-wise too. It really was not only the case study design, but curriculum mapping. And I had heard Heidi Hayes Jacobs speak many times; I’d gone to some workshops, and I was very interested in Valerie’s study, very.
Dr. Wells: Well, I appreciate…I’m so happy you went with the flow, and it’s great that you found someone interested in the content as well as someone who is really into case study, which is what you had begun doing. So that’s a good thing. Let me back up just a little bit; here you have this interest, you’re on the job, you’ve got responsibilities on your job, you decide to turn this into a doctoral study. How did you narrow your curiosity down to a manageable size so that you could begin to turn it into a doctoral study?
Dr. Lyle: Well, part of it was as a factor of my job responsibilities. I had responsibilities with K–12 teachers in all of the buildings and with the administrators, so it was kind of limited to the schools and the arrangements within that district, but again, I knew that this would be important to examine from the prospectus. I know I could have focused in on one particular level, but this is a systemic change model, so you really need to examine it from what’s happening there, with what’s happening at each one of the levels. I was looking at it since it’s a systemic change model. I had to look at prospectus of all those levels, so I couldn’t narrow it to just one level.
Dr. Wells: Well then, why didn’t you just change topics to something that would have been easier?
Dr. Lyle: Because that’s not the point.
Dr. Wells: What’s the point?
Dr. Lyle: The point is to really add voice to something I believe passionately in the potential. I believe the challenges faced by my district since I had been to the mapping institute several years, I knew were challenges faced by districts across our nation, so I wanted to find out information that would be beneficial not only for my district, but for others in their mapping journey.
Dr. Wells: So if I would have been your chair and I tried to talk you out of this, you keep using this “P word,” over and over, this passion word. Would I have been able to talk you out of it?
Dr. Lyle: No.
Dr. Wells: All right, just … OK.
Dr. Lyle: No, you could have tried, but no.
Dr. Wells: I wouldn’t have tried. And you know, we’re all different. We’re all wired differently, some people say, well I could this; this is doable, and they just do it, and then other people have, on a sliding scale, something that they’re very passionate about. I do recommend you find something that you just really think about, even if you weren’t working on the study, something that you’re passionate about, and I appreciate that about you, very much. Well let’s go on a little bit further. Tell us a little bit more about the research design of this study, because rather than do just one campus, you did the district, more or less, and then it was a case study. That was more involved than just a single case. Explain that a little bit; tell us about the methodology.
Dr. Lyle: It needed to be a multiple case study to answer my research questions from perspectives of all those instructional levels. I did take a look at it from the instructional level, so I did narrow it that way. So, there was the elementary, the junior high, and the high school and then the administrative case, which had a representative from each one of the instructional levels and the unit office. So that’s where the cases originated from and then I had to find participants willing to talk to me in each one of those levels.
Dr. Wells: So, let me clarify this. So did you have a focus group, from elementary, middle school, high school, and administrative or did you just … or were you just certain to interview individuals from each of those groups, or both?
Dr. Lyle: Actually, I did a combination of that.
Dr. Wells: Explain.
Dr. Lyle: I started out with the teachers only, with a focus group. I did not use a focus group with the administrators because one of the limitations of my study was the willingness of people to talk to me, and I had to use a convenience sampling of the administrators because not all of them were willing to talk. This was a sensitive issue; one that was presenting a lot of challenges for the district. So some of them were not willing to talk about the challenges and the obstacles they were facing, but I was fortunate enough to have an administrator at each one of the instructional levels and both of the unit office administrators who were willing to talk to me.
Dr. Wells: Let me interrupt you. When you’re doing a case study, or a multiple case study, Dr. Boddie, is that a consideration that not everyone’s going to speak with you.
Dr. Boddie: Well sure, especially when you use a sampling that’s purposeful, you know you’re going after people who will give you the richest source of data. So that’s what you want to do, you want to pick those people as opposed to random sampling. You want to pick people who really will give you the data that you need. So if people are reluctant to talk, maybe that’s OK because you really want the people who are willing to talk. You have to have those, because case study research is descriptive, you know, it’s explaining everything in words. It’s very rich, thick description. Yeah, you know, so yeah, you do want those people.
Dr. Wells: There’s a point, sorry to step on what you’re saying, but that’s a point that I think a lot of our students forget that I’m going to go out and do this terrific study; it works great on paper, then lo and behold, oh wow, not that many people returned my survey, you know very low percentages, or not everybody who I thought was going to talk to me, wants to talk to me. Now of course, this has never happened to me personally. But you know, because people—but anyway, I think it’s a valid point and you kind of went a, in my view, at least, a real advanced route on this. You had multiple case studies happening.
Dr. Boddie: Yes, and well, I was going to add to that too, that Yin points out that if you want to strengthen your research, multiple cases will give you that replication. First of all, you’re looking either at literal or theoretical replication, it depends what you want to go after. But I think in Valerie’s case, she was looking for maybe theoretical replication, whether or not she could replicate that theoretical proposition. So I think there’s a lot of good reasons for looking at why you’re going to do multiple case studies. The thing about case study research if you look at Robert K. Yin—and I like his work a lot—he says try to keep those number of cases between two and six, and Valerie did four, right in the middle, so I thought that was pretty cool.
Dr. Lyle: And back with how I selected my participants, with the teachers I initiated my selection with a criterion base, where I had four points of things that I was looking for and then I also had those participants recommend others so there was that snowball chain and I wanted to talk to people who were pro as well as against, just so they were willing to talk to me, so I had that maximum variation there. And when you were asking me about did I use focus groups and one-on-one. With the teachers, I started with focus groups and again, I knew that this was a very touchy, very sensitive subject, so I used…I built off one of the DVDs through the qualitative, actually, one of the participants in that is sitting right over there and she showed a use of a structured activity. So I began the focus group after the initial chance for people to talk with a structured activity where the question was related to sustainability and I had Post-it notes that said “yes,” “not sure,” “no,” and so they could then select which one went along with their perspective and on separate Post-it notes, jot down reasons, so their names weren’t attached to it. We put it all up on the board, we put all the yeses, the no’s, the “I’m not sures” and then they actually started to help me to classify, which gave me some of the categories when I started coding. So that was a very helpful and not … after they started seeing some of their same perspectives; they were more willing to talk.
Dr. Wells: We were talking about this earlier, and I thought it was so clever and fascinating that you can protect a person’s privacy to that extent and still get terrific data out of a focus group, because I don’t know about you, but in a focus group, I just kind of see people sitting around in a circle, and one person is sort of eyeing them and writing down everything they said. You know like some sort of a … you know, well you don’t even know what they’re writing, but it wasn’t like that at all. It was fun, it was participatory, and you protected their privacy, and you got some good clean data from that. Yeah, that’s really cool. I really appreciate that. Talk to us a little bit about your archival documents. What was that about?
Dr. Lyle: Yes, I had the initiative.
Dr. Wells: Wait, why do you laugh when I say archival documents?
Dr. Boddie: There was a lot.
Dr. Lyle: There was a lot of that stuff.
Dr. Wells: You walk up to somebody on the street and say archival documents and they won’t laugh, you laugh.
Dr. Lyle: I had mountains of it. Some of which I was very aware of because I had part of the process of generating it.
Dr. Wells: So you were there when these data were archived?
Dr. Lyle: Yes, whenever they would talk to me about professional development, I had logs of who had how many days, how many minutes, when they were, how they were spaced, right there at my access. There were survey data. I had two years of survey data which gave me some trend information. I had quarterly reports that I had submitted. I had communiqués, emails; I had agendas; I had artifacts; we had an Internet-based mapping software system, so they had maps that were housed in there and I could see if they really understood when I was talking to them; did they really have a handle on it. That Internet-based system housed things for multiple years, so I could view things from multiple years. I had a lot of data. And then each one of my interviews because of, again, using some strategies I learned from watching Dr. Lynn over there, I had a basic protocol that everybody had some of the same questions for comparability, but then I used responsive and active listening strategies and I would end up with a transcript for each one that was about 25 pages.
Dr. Wells: Each individual you interviewed?
Dr. Lyle: Yes.
Dr. Wells: How many individuals did you interview?
Dr. Lyle: I had the focus groups and the focus groups I had … I did some strategies to make sure that I was getting the information right, but I had 25 teachers, and the five administrators, so I had transcripts from all of that.
Dr. Wells: Now Deanna, isn’t that a lot?
Dr. Boddie: Yes.
Dr. Wells: For most, you know most qualitative studies, you know ... five to 10 maybe, but this was a lot larger.
Dr. Boddie: This was the most I’d ever seen.
Dr. Wells: So that was …
Dr. Boddie: The most I’d ever seen.
Dr. Wells: I saw a few of you running for the door. Come back, sit back down, it’s OK. This was a larger study, and I think it has something to do with her passion.
Dr. Lyle: It does, yes.
Dr. Boddie: But, you know, it was manageable. The thing about Valerie, she was so organized and she knew how to manage and organize that data. We had a lot of conversations in chapter four about how, well, you might even want to talk a little bit about that, about how you started to organize your data, but I think all of that data was so helpful to the findings. I mean, this is a complicated study in terms of when you bring an initiative in like that, like curriculum mapping, and you bring that in K–12, that’s a big study—or a big initiative to bring in and you are going to have a lot of data, and this had been done over a number of years, so yes it was.
Dr. Wells: So let’s kind of move on to the next step. You have your transcripts and you have the archival data. How did you analyze it, and I know that you could talk a long time on that, but just kind of give us the basic how did you do that?
Dr. Lyle: Well again, part of the way that I decided on how I was going to analyze and collect the data, was based on my understanding of my limitations in my study so I built in things within my design of my data collection and my analysis that would help address those. I used protocols in each one of the cases; the single cases that were the same.
Dr. Wells: Tell everybody what you mean by protocols.
Dr. Lyle: How I analyzed the data, for example, was the same procedure. The interview had the same basic questions. And then I would look at each case separately to understand the patterns, the relationships, and the themes, and then the findings within that single case related to my research questions, and then once you had the single case, you do that cross-case analysis.
Dr. Boddie: Across all the data.
Dr. Lyle: Since the main focus was from my interview data and the archival data was used primarily to triangulate information that was provided by the individuals, I really focused on coding the interviews. I didn’t code all that other data. I did some content analysis of them, and I had binders of stuff that I put in piles and she gave me approval to … it’s OK to put in piles and rearrange those things.
Dr. Wells: This is the archival data in the piles?
Dr. Lyle: Yes, yes, yes. Lots of binders, lots of piles.
Dr. Wells: OK.
Dr. Lyle: But the coding system was a very complex coding system and it was based on three frames of analysis. I used inductive analysis and I used two frames that dealt with the attributes of leadership. One was based on attributes that result in buy-in. One that results in resistance, and threatens sustainability. And then I had them do a cause and effect of other initiatives that they had buy-in so I could look at those factors and find similarities in them and the codes that were basically my categories, my domains, were greatly influenced not only by what the participants had said, for example, what we did in the focus groups, but by the conceptual framework and the theoretical proposition that really guided a lot of that, and then some of my interpretations of what they had said. For example, they might mention as a resource, time. But then there were subdivisions of, time for collaboration, time for this, time for that, so it was a complex system.
Dr. Wells: What I like about what I’m hearing, if I’m understanding at all, is that you didn’t just go in and ask a bunch of questions, but you let the data emerge from the questions. You asked open-ended questions and found out: Well, OK, so what do you guys think? What do you really think? But that was planned in advance with your conceptual framework. This thing was framed, and then you had three, right, frameworks, I guess I might say, of analysis.
Dr. Lyle: That’s where they all seemed to fit.
Dr. Wells: So the data was able to emerge and you could just watch it but you had these three categories, and you had that based way back early. You said OK let’s figure out a framework for this, and a theoretical proposition, getting all the way back to that.
Dr. Lyle: Through constant pattern matching of what was being said, it started off with little notes in the side margins, of these are possibilities. And I had done a pilot of my interview and pilot coding which had given me some frameworks there too, which ended up being modified but constant pattern matching. And what I did in the final analysis for the coding process, I used a different … I used the word processing system to do inserts and color coded by the domain, and what I would do is I would read my codes for a particular domain. I would have read through the interview and these were based after multiple, multiple readings, but then I would code it, the whole interview, for that one domain. And then I would set that domain aside. I would change my coding system; I used combinations of my initials so it would come up different colors. Then I would read the codes for the next domain. Go back through, read and code for that one, until I had each one coded, and then at the end I would pull sample ones, blank sample ones, and recode again, just to see if at this point in time, did … would I code it the same as what I did maybe eight months earlier.
Dr. Wells: Just imagine how easy this would have been if you would have really been organized.
Dr. Lyle: But here, again, that goes to those limitations.
Dr. Wells: I mean, seriously, I really couldn’t find my dress shoes before the first session here, and I’m going … it’s a different planet. But I really appreciate that. Talk to us about your findings now. What did you find out about the Jacobs Model of Curriculum Mapping?
Dr. Lyle: OK, let’s go on. Oh, this is really important.
Dr. Wells: OK.
Dr. Lyle: Your limitations, it really makes a difference in your data collection and your data analysis. Since I knew, as Dr. Boddie had mentioned, that when you’re doing a case study, there’s a lot of research bias issues.
Dr. Boddie: Yes, right.
Dr. Lyle: So, to improve the quality of my study, the validity and the reliability, I used a multiplicity of strategies. Not only the triangulation of the data, but I did with each one of the interviews, at the end, to make sure I was understanding what they were telling me, I would summarize while they were sitting there, what I thought they were telling me so that they could correct me if I was wrong, and add to it, if necessary. And then I would send verification forms with a copy of the transcripts so they could look it over again and say yep, yep, yep, that’s what I meant; you got it right, sign it, send it back. Then I did a member checking, at the very end—which and she helped me understand the difference in that verification and member checking.
Dr. Boddie: IRB helps you, too.
Dr. Lyle: Yeah. Where I sent the summary of the findings to representative members in each case and had them say, “Yep, yep, you got it right.” So that helped to address the bias issues. Using those same protocols helped with that, with generalized ability, case study is very focused on the context, and for anybody else to read it and see if it applies, you have to have a rich description of what’s going on in that context.
Dr. Boddie: That’s right.
Dr. Lyle: And your assumptions and things like that and then the data collection itself, as you can imagine, strategies for analyzing it.
Dr. Boddie: One thing I was going to say, too, as students if you’re looking for, if you’re interested in qualitative case study research, two resources are particularly helpful in the area of external and internal validity and reliability and then there’s construct validity, too. But those areas, if you’re looking for specific strategies, I would highly recommend Robert K. Yin’s book, 2009, on case study research, and then Merriam, Sharon B. Merriam, M-E-R-R-I-A-M, Merriam’s qualitative research has a section in there on just that particular issue, very helpful. Because any qualitative study you’re going to have to address those issues of reliability and validity and those authors give you specific strategies. They explain them in great detail and then as you know, you put that into chapter three as to what strategies you’re going to use, and then in chapter four you have to be accountable again, for how you actually use those strategies, so those are two really good resources, I think.
Dr. Wells: But do tell us a little bit about your findings and your final conclusions.
Dr. Lyle: OK. Well, I ended up with some common buy-in factors and some resistance factors and some of those resistance factors were not necessarily just the opposite of the buy-in, but really key for buy-in factors was to build that shared vision of what are the potential benefits and the purpose of why are we doing this and you can see there’s a lot of those other little things. But the real, real key, the real key was that administrative support. The teachers in my study, there have been lots of studies that, well, several studies, that look at perspectives of teachers of mapping as a curricular alignment tool and the benefits that all my teachers found corresponded with findings from other studies.
Every one of them could give you benefits, but that didn’t necessarily mean that it would be sustainable. And the key was that administrative support. If we look at the next slide here, you can see there is a big difference in the perspectives of sustainability which raises questions as: “OK, so what’s the leadership doing at those different levels?” And are they building in those buy-in factors. Are they not identifying and addressing the challenges and obstacles. One of the key things was that I’ve found and this went back to that theoretical proposition, too, was that a misunderstanding of the administrators of the magnitude of change that this initiative represented for the district; they just assumed it was like a first-order change, which plays into the skill sets and the norms, cultural norms. But it’s a second-order change, that drastically challenges those skill sets and cultural norms and that means the administrators need to act as a change agent. They can’t assume similar roles. And you can see at the elementary level there where …
Dr. Wells: Yeah, I was looking at the elementary.
Dr. Lyle: Oh, yeah, oh. The year before, I had worked so hard with them and I have comments from them, anonymous ones, of all these benefits that they were seeing. They were seeing their responsibilities from the systemic; they were aware of standards in alignment; things that they hadn’t really contemplated. But then the next year, I was transferred up to the junior high and nothing, nothing was done with the maps that had been generated. And as they spoke to me in the interviews, they would tell me that their administrators, they didn’t think through their words and their actions really supported mapping; that they were doing it just because they were told to do it, and that’s basically what the administrators would tell me, too. So they didn’t have personal buy-in. And if they didn’t have personal buy-in, the teachers weren’t going to, because there’s a lot of work in it. There’s a lot of challenge to your thought processes.
Dr. Wells: Now, obviously this is really important information. You know I used to be a public school administrator, and I would really want to have this information. Tell us a little bit about some of the responses you received from these data and these conclusions, and also broaden it out. How do you feel that this addressed Walden’s social change message?
Dr. Lyle: Well, when you take a look at in order, this is a systemic change model that does have tremendous potential for positive social change within a district, of moving it from a traditional district to becoming a professional learning community, and there’s a framework for that. There’s a framework for all this, if you have awareness of it and implement it. But what resulted was that if you’re going to be successful you need to look at your roles, a paradigm shift, from proactive responsibilities, things that need to be done before implementation. Building that leadership capacity, understanding yourself what the purpose is, being able to map yourself which was a “Ah!” For my administrators, the prospects of mapping, but yet at the institutes that I would attend, mapping for the administrators was key. Now they would say, well I don’t teach, well map your SIP, your School Improvement Plan. I would map my professional development sessions. I used smart goals and modified it. So you can map and it’s important that they do because there are struggles; there are cognitive struggles that go on in that map development and if you don’t understand those struggles, then you’re going to give maybe 10 minutes here, 15 minutes there to develop it, when it takes so much more time. So limiting those resources causes frustrations. So there are proactive things that you need to do to lay that foundation, and then there are active leadership roles that need to be assumed during that implementation process. And that includes from if you’re a teacher/leader, you really need to understand the magnitude of change of whatever your passion is for your district and then understanding what you need to do as a change agent. There are strategies to use. You need to build that vision and the purpose, and an understanding. You can’t just go in and say, hey I’ve got this great idea, let’s do it.
Dr. Wells: Right, so it sounds like just in general terms it sounds like you’re saying that, you know you need to build a framework which will bear the weight of the actual change and maybe you had a 10 pound framework and a 50 pound change in this district, and the lesson for social change has to do with OK you’ve got to build a good 100 pound infrastructure if you’re going to have a 50 pound change.
Dr. Lyle: You betcha. And understand the change process, too, of what happens in those early phases. It’s like with Jos- …
Dr. Wells: Excuse us, we’re really going to get into this for a minute here.
Dr. Wells: But that’s really terrific. You know, for the sake of time, in like five sentences or less, I’m going to ask each of you to give Walden doctoral students your best advice, like in about five or so sentences or less. Dr. Boddie, I’m going to ask you to go first.
Dr. Boddie: OK, I’ve got a couple of things. One is I think when you work with your faculty mentor and your chairperson, really seek specific and immediate feedback as often as you can. Try to chunk out your work in smaller pieces. You know, writing the entire proposal on your own and then sending it off to your … that’s kind of crazy, no. You really want very specific immediate feedback. Don’t be afraid to use the telephone. There are some things you just can’t do in email and this gets to be pretty complicated, so I think you have to look at a combination sometimes of phone calls and especially when you get to that prospectus stage and you’re trying to develop the design of your study, you may have to have conversations. And one last thing, I think a lot of students think that maybe we don’t really need to pay attention to grammar and usage and mechanics, but you know, form and style is waiting for you at the end of all these chapters and I’m a big proponent of clean as you go. I do it in the kitchen, too. Well, otherwise you couldn’t cook the next day! It’s the same thing here, you know, just look for clarity in your writing. Clarity and conciseness, and do edit your own writing. Read what you write. If you’re not reading it, no one else wants to read it, so you need to read your own writing, and that’s most important.
Dr. Wells: Good advice. Valerie, what would you say?
Dr. Lyle: For me I would say to understand your limitations and then build into your research design, your data collection, your data analysis, strategies that will address those limitations. Be sure that you have a real strong handle of your conceptual framework and how that fits in with your data analysis. Collect and analyze at that same time. Don’t wait to collect all the data and then analyze, don’t do that. Analyze as you go and look for patterns.
Dr. Wells: Yeah. That was really one of my big take-aways from the conversation was the importance of that conceptual framework or as you called it, that theoretical proposition.
Dr. Boddie: Right.
Dr. Wells: Outstanding. Well, you know, terrific job. Meritorious research, and we are so proud of you. Could we please have a nice round of applause for our laureate?
Dr. Lauck: Great, thanks so much. I hope that you found this presentation today to be both inspiring and informative. Dr. Lyle’s outstanding doctoral study clearly elucidates the intrinsic role that research plays in the scholar-practitioner model and we hope that you’ll keep her example in mind as you complete your own doctoral studies. So, thanks so much for joining us today.