A grounded theory of school of education futures
Doiron, Joseph Andrew
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The purpose of this grounded theory study was to explore the futures that school of education leaders envision for their institutions. American higher education institutions broadly, and schools of education specifically, face a complex of challenges to their traditional structures, processes, practices, value, and values. These challenges create a climate of uncertainty about the future of institutions that were built around assumptions of long-term operational stability. Leaders must evaluate what changes must be made and what legacies must be preserved in order to ensure that their institutions continue to thrive into the future. Therefore, it is important to understand the futures that school of education leaders envision, because these visions of the future will impact decisions made in the present. Current and recent deans from top fifty ranked schools of education in the United States were identified according to the US News & World Report 2016 rankings. These schools were assigned to segments based on their ranking: 1–10, 11–20, 21–30, 31–40, and 41–50. A public and a private school of education were selected from each segment and the deans were contacted for participation. Open response interviews guided by an initial interview protocol were conducted with participants by phone. After the completion of each interview, the audio recording was transcribed, coded, and an initial theory was generated. This theory was then presented to the next participant in the study for discussion. This process was repeated until theoretical data saturation was reached at the tenth interview. The theory of school of education futures that emerged from this process was The Adaptive School of Education. Deans described an institution that: engages in the organizational Activities of critique, creation, education, and communication; is, by its Design, embedded, engaged, diverse, sustainable, and governed by a federalist governance structure; will consider its Human Capital consisting of faculty, students, and staff as the source of innovation and stability; is undergirded by certain organizational Values; and is clear about its Value proposition for the public good, and the private good. These findings have several implications for higher education leadership and school of education leadership practice and inquiry.