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In this section I present the results of an analysis across
cases of various aspects related to the process of implementation
of ECRI. The analysis is primarily between the four in-depth
cases (Chapter 5) but is verified by data from the other five
teachers who endeavored to implement ECRI: Alerie, Jackie, Joyce,
Lisa, and Sophia. While Yin (1984) suggests that a descriptive
framework helps organize the case study analysis, I extend that
idea to the cross-case analysis and use the same basic framework
used in the case studies in my cross-case analysis. I have compared
the teachers' backgrounds, implementations of ECRI, modi operandi,
use of materials, and new skills. In considering the context,
I attempt to describe the modal individual of various contexts,
e.g., low conceptual level. In looking for patterns within a
particular context, similar themes within are verified by contrasts
for the opposite context. For example, I noticed that high operational
level teachers mentioned physical manifestations often during
the training. In checking low operational level teachers, I discovered
very few comments about physical discomforts (nervousness, perspiration,
This strategy of pattern-matching is described by Yin (1984). He explains that if patterns emerge which match an empirically based pattern, "the results can help a case study to strengthen its internal validity" (p. 103). This occurred in the case of Gregorc's mind styles. The theoretical base is well-defined in Gregorc (1982), and it is relatively simple to match patterns with a construct whose relationship to change is delineated. However, in the situation of conceptual level and operational level, the constructs are not defined in relationship to change. I did not know what to expect and ultimately was only able to search for plausible explanations for patterns which emerged.
This cross-case analysis searches for descriptions of factors which influence change. The following scenario is an illustration of how hidden reasons for a behavior might exist despite a valued change:
The introduction of the stove in village India produced some unexpected consequences. Cooking is traditionally done over an open, dung fire. There is no chimney and few windows so while the smoke slowly filters through the thatched roof, the smoke-filled room makes cooking unpleasant and contributes to respiratory and eye ailments. To combat this a cheap, chimneyed, fuel-saving stove was introduced. Its acceptance met with considerable objection, however, because the smoke had produced at least one desirable side effect: it kept out roof-destroying, wood-boring ants. So while the stove was inexpensive to purchase and operate, it was still more costly because roofs had to be constantly replaced. (Woods, 1975, p.40)
The introduction of a new strategy may seem completely logical to the trainers, however, teachers have a rationale for their practices. Hall (1989) states that, "because cultural `laws' are implicit and operate out of awareness, it is not uncommon that innovations designed to improve something prove to be in direct conflict with the basic and underlying patterns of implicit culture at the microcultural level" (p. 33). Is there a body of beliefs that operates out of awareness of teachers that affect the implementation of a direct instruction reading approach? A number of factors enter into a teacher's decision to implement or not implement a new strategy. This cross-case analysis elucidates some of the factors which influenced the implementation of ECRI.
Bringing a wide variety of previous experiences to the ECRI process, the four main teachers in this study represent a cross- section of the teacher population. In education they range from Becky who has a Master's degree to Tammy who is currently working on elementary certification. Becky with 11 years' experience is contrasted by Tammy who is teaching elementary students for the first time in a full-time capacity. In between are Debbie in her second year and Deana in her fifth year of teaching. The situations in which they are teaching are varied. Becky and Deana are in rather large (10-20 teacher) schools, Debbie teaches with three other teachers, and Tammy is implementing in a multi-grade, single-teacher school. All teachers are employed by a parochial system of education and are responsible to local boards. They take their jobs seriously and believe God, through various circumstances, led them to become teachers and provided the Christian schools where they presently teach.
Implementation of ECRI
In the general description of their implementation of ECRI, we find some commonalities. All teachers were faced with decisions concerning grouping and text books. Once the informal inventories were given Deana, Tammy, and Becky had no major difficulty placing students according to the test results even when this meant the student would be reading a textbook different than his/her grade level. Acquiring advice from Miss Sabrina, Debbie tried to place students in such a way as to maintain two groups. However, the parents of one student insisted their child not be allowed to `skip' any of the pre-primers. In September I wrote in my journal, "I've been thinking about rituals, I wonder if moving from one textbook to the next is a form of ritual. I see Debbie and Sophia really bogged down and unable to break through the idea of skipping a book" (V 3, p. 116). Debbie chose to resolve the situation by having an individualized program for one student, Sophia never did break the spell of the lockstep mentality. She has seven reading groups, and does ECRI with Grade 2 and 3 students. In March 1991, she said, "Now as I prepare words for both classes I see how similar they are and that I might have been able to leave off one level without anything major happening" (V. 2, p. 185). Joyce, trying to implement with four groups, could not imagine how to group the students and in October discontinued the use of ECRI.
Both Deana and Tammy struggled to decide which textbooks to use and how to acquire them. Tammy was never able to acquire one old series which she wanted and finally decided to keep all nine of her students (Grades 4-8) at the Grade 6 level even though she had originally intended to have a group at sixth-grade level and another one at eighth-grade level. Deana vacillated between using an old science or social studies series or an old reading series. Finally settling for the one that was readily available, she chose an old reading series.
Three teachers, Deana, Tammy and Becky, shared the difficult time they had in getting students into the routine of ECRI. It was much harder than they had anticipated. As Deana said, "The first few days were really tough. If I hadn't seen it working before I'd really wonder about it!" (V. 2, p. 90).
Several obstacles to implementation are elucidated in the four case studies. Debbie's implementation is overshadowed by parental problems. The pastor's family has not given her the freedom to make decisions she needs to concerning their child's education. Influencing other families in the school, this family has undermined the ECRI program and Debbie is no longer secure in her job. Deana faced a major obstacle in placing her 25 students. This was resolved with the help of the researcher who spent parts of two days testing her students using the ECRI informal inventory and discussing on which level the students should be placed. Facing the obstacle of new students trickling into her class and not wanting to start until the enrollment settled down, Becky hesitated for about three weeks before starting ECRI.
Consistent with their personality, mind style, or situation, each teacher developed a unique strategy for coping with the implementation of ECRI. Debbie kept returning to the schedule for assurance that she was implementing correctly. Tammy adapted the ECRI process freely as she endeavored to make it her own. Wanting to test the workability of ECRI, Becky implemented with a high degree of fidelity. She kept as her modus operandi: "just take one step at a time" (V. 2, p. 170). Being determined to use ECRI for one year and having promised her parents, principal, and superintendent that she would do so, Deana uses positive self-talk to keep herself going when she feels like quitting.
Use of Materials
Making and organizing the materials used in ECRI is a formidable task for all teachers. Becky who had the help of Mary Beth has been the most fortunate. The others are bogged down in the day-to-day preparation of materials for the skills and spelling sections. Ready to incorporate the comprehension section into their programs, they are thwarted by the realization that they have to find appropriate paragraphs for each of the concepts, e.g., main idea, sequencing, inferencing, etc., and then prepare appropriate overheads. Nobody has had the time to do this. Debbie ordered materials from ECRI headquarters for teaching comprehension and has enjoyed using these.
Two other major tasks which confront all teachers is developing a system of organization for the materials students will have at their desks and a way to file all the teacher's materials, overheads, etc., so they will be ready for another year. In this study the four teachers responded to these challenges in unique ways. In organizing student materials, Deana prepared a laminated folder for each student. Debbie tried to follow a system similar to that outlined in the teacher's manual with two folders for each student; however, she says the students regularly use only one. Becky's students have one folder which Becky replaced half-way through the year since the "old folders were so messy" (V. 2,
p. 83). Tammy's students do not use any folders! They use the Practice Time Checklist as a bookmark in one reader, the Enrichment Reading Form as a bookmark in their enrichment reading book, and their spelling sheets are loose in their desks until the student passes the mastery test, then they are placed in an envelope in their desk until parent-teacher interviews at which time they are given to the parents.
Debbie and Deana expressed having problems organizing the teacher's materials. The flash cards, mastery tests, overheads, and spelling sheets needed to be organized so they would be ready for use again. Deana says ECRI has forced her to get organized, while Debbie is hoping someone will help her organize her materials, but for now, they are all in big folders.
Debbie and Becky, both teaching younger children, have made simplified versions of the Practice Time Checklist. They both have added tasks for students to do which are not on the regular Practice Time Checklist. Debbie asks her students to write some of the words in sentences and reminds students of the pages they need to do in their workbooks. Becky wants her students to alphabetize the words, use them in sentences, and write rhyming words for five of the words on the mastery list.
Whether handwriting or typing materials, all teachers are spending many hours working on ECRI materials. If they could have the assurance they would be teaching the same grade level and would benefit by not having to make materials next year it would not be too bad. But several of them know they will not have the same grade and that is discouraging.
Becky, Deana, and Tammy did not enjoy the tension resulting from memorizing the directives during training. This was evidenced in physical manifestations like dreams, upset stomachs, and forgetfulness. With the exception of Deana and Tammy, most teachers were able to learn and use the directives word for word. Tammy noted in December 1990 that she had not been consistent in the order of directives and, therefore, it was almost impossible to fade them. However, by March all teachers were consistently fading many of the skills directives.
During training Debbie and Tammy said they had "seen the results of positive reinforcement" (V. 1, pp. 9, 21) and they knew it worked. While all four teachers liked the idea of positive reinforcement, Debbie, Becky, and Tammy indicated a constant struggle to keep from going back to negative reinforcement. It seems more natural to them. Perhaps this is a practice inherent in the teaching culture and one which is not easily changed. Deana and Becky prefer verbal reinforcement to giving points. Becky is particularly concerned that the point system and store engenders even greater materialism in an already overly materialistic Western culture. Not financially able to continue the store on a regular basis, Debbie found that students did not care about points when they did not know if the store would be open.
Deana and Tammy have developed systems for group points. Giving five points to all students when she finds them all on task during practice time helped Deana control the noise. Tammy adds a letter to a statement which she makes on the front board when she finds the entire group on task. In December 1990, the partially completed sentence was, "I wish all of my wonderful students. . ." (V. 2, p. 22). When the statement is complete they have a party.
The ECRI program arranges for individual conferences during which the teacher asks students four levels of questions: literal, interpretative, critical, and creative. At the time of the final interviews in March, all teachers had unresolved problems in relationship to conferencing. Deana and Becky were each trying to individually conference 25 students, but with so many students neither was satisfied with the frequency of these conferences. Becky was getting around to each student no more than once a month, and in February, Deana had just finished her second round of students since September. Tammy had recently decided to ask the four levels of questions when students came for mastery tests, and Debbie had reverted to the use of workbooks as a form of evaluation for comprehension.
Both Becky and Tammy indicated having initial problems learning the difference between the types of questions.
Effects of the Context
In order to help define the context, teachers were administered inventories for mind style (Gregorc), conceptual level (Hunt), and operational level (Piaget). A focused interview provided the information on working conditions (Szabo). The various results for 20 teachers are given in Table 5. The results for the IPDT (An Inventory of Piaget's Developmental Tasks) are displayed in three columns.
In Appendix B are tables which show the occurrence of selected coded segments comparing random and sequential teachers, high and low conceptual level teachers, high and low operational level teachers, and formal operational level teachers with concrete operational level teachers. The teachers used in these comparisons
Name MS CL OLSC OLPC OL Teachers in Training Barbara CS-AS - 13 2 C Bonnie CS - 12 3 T Carmen AR-CR - 14 2 C Janey CR-CS - 16 3 T Randy AR-CS - 18 5 F Experienced Teachers * Alerie CS-AS 1.3 11 1 C * Becky AS-CS 2.0 11 0 C Clarence CS - 18 5 F * Deana AR-CR 2.3 18 5 F * Debbie AR-CR 2.0 13 3 T Harriet AR 1.0 13 1 C * Jackie CS-CR 2.0 15 4 T Joan AR 2.7 16 4 T * Joyce CR-AR 1.7 8 0 C Ken CS-AS 1.2 16 3 T * Lisa AR-CR 1.8 16 3 T Mary Lane CS-AS - 13 2 C Ray AS-CS - 18 5 F * Sophia AR 1.0 16 3 T * Tammy CS-AS 1.2 18 5 F Codes: MS = Mind Style CL = Conceptual Level CS = Concrete Sequential OLSC = # Subtest correct AS = Abstract Sequential OLPC = # Problem areas correct AR = Abstract Random OL = Operational Level CR = Concrete Random C = Concrete T = Transitional F = Formal * Teachers using ECRI in October 1990.
all attempted to implement ECRI and were using it in their classrooms in October 1990. The coded segments are taken from the four questionnaires which were given during the training. While some interesting trends are indicated it should be noted that these same trends are not present among other teachers who did not attempt to implement ECRI. The tables are referred to throughout the cross-case analysis of factors in the context.
This cross-case analysis considers Becky and Tammy who are sequential teachers in contrast with the random teachers, Debbie and Deana. Data collected from five other teachers during the training is tabulated in Appendix B.
The contrast between individuals of different mind styles is immediately obvious in the way they relate to change. In the sequential individuals, we find a real reticence to any change, since both Becky and Tammy indicate they change slowly. Tammy admits "change makes me extremely uncomfortable" (V. 2, p. 14). By contrast, random teachers Deana and Debbie do not mind change.
In fact, Deana does not think she ever changes she just organizes differently constantly!
Gregorc (1982) says, "Consistently striving for perfection, the Concrete Sequential can work with the exactitude of a machine and detect the most minute detail, flaw and variance with uncanny precision" (p. 19). As I observed Tammy and Becky, I noted few errors in their teaching and materials. In contrast, Debbie and Deana's random mind styles were evidenced in mistakes which they made in the production of materials and presentations. Deana said she "used to have about one mistake per mastery test" (V. 2,
p. 153). On several occasions, I noted Debbie would stop teaching to make a `word part' she had neglected to make earlier.
While sequential thinkers are able to organize the materials needed for ECRI, the random teachers showed evidence of frustrating experiences in deciding where to put everything. Deana remarks, "At the beginning of the year, I had folders of stuff all over the place. And I didn't know what to call anything; it was a mess" (V. 2, p. 116). I also noticed that Debbie rarely places a mastery test number or other identifying mark on her overheads. This will make it difficult to bring order out of the big folder where she has placed all her mastery tests. The random teachers have difficulty coping with the substantial amount of materials used in ECRI; however, Deana recognizes that using ECRI has forced her to become more organized.
Two teachers spoke specifically about the structure of ECRI: Tammy, a CS/AS felt comfortable with the structure while Deana, an AR/CR, felt "leery of the amount of repetition" (V. 2, p. 50). Gregorc (1982) says, "The Concrete Sequential prefers and will seek a quiet, ordered, predictable and stable environment" (pp. 20, 21). Further,
the Abstract Sequential [also] prefers an environment that is ordered and mentally stimulating. He dislikes wasting his time making mistakes that will eventually have to be remedied. . . . If the environment is full of distracting sounds, the delicately wrought balance in his thinking process could be upset. (p. 25)
Both Becky and Tammy revealed discomfort with practice time. Tammy said, "It seems like they study together too much, they'll want to start out practice time studying together rather than going over the words first" (V. 2, p. 23). In an effort to `organize' practice time, Becky divided the time into two sections: one half hour for reading and the other half hour for preparation for mastery tests. However, this has raised another problem. What are children to do if they have finished reading before the time is up? Becky then encourages them to do SRA or, up to the final interview in February, she allowed them to read ahead. However, when she realized she was in fact defeating the whole purpose of ECRI having the reading, spelling, and writing coordinated so students are using the same vocabulary words she intended to change these practices. This is a poignant example of the results of adaptations which are made so ECRI is more in line with the person's own mind style.
An overview of Table B-1 in the appendix shows several trends which emerged during training. Random teachers generally made more statements indicating they were adjusting to the ECRI method. They recognized how they would have to change their program to use ECRI. They would have to change the schedule, find enrichment reading books, make charts, buy overheads and work-strips, and prepare items for the store. In contrast, those with a sequential mind style did not show as much evidence of adjusting or changing. This finding is in agreement with Gregorc's theory. He says "the CS-oriented individual is generally not easily adaptable to new conditions or environments. This means change comes in slow, deliberate, incremental steps" (Gregorc, 1982, p. 20). Recall Becky's modus operandi: to take things one step at a time.
While the trends indicating fewer adjustments with sequential teachers were present during the training, in implementation Tammy showed a great deal of overall change the ECRI check list (Appendix C) shows she had attempted almost all components of ECRI. So even though she may not have been adjusting as readily as the random teachers during training, in the final analysis she was able to implement much of ECRI.
Gregorc (1982) claims "the AS can suffer from the inability to take a definite position. He, more than any other style orientation, seemingly prefers to `sit on the fence'" (p. 24). Again, in Becky's profile, we see evidence of struggles of this kind. In December when other teachers in her building were pressing her for an opinion of ECRI, she did not feel "ready to make that decision yet" (V. 2, p. 88). I encouraged her to take her time, but in February she was still wishing she "could say one way or the other about ECRI" (V. 2, p. 171), but she was not satisfied that all the kinks were out of it. Tammy's behavior in this regard seems almost atypical of an CS/AS, but that may be because in reality, ECRI was not a change for her in the same way it was for Becky. Being a first year teacher she says:
I think it was easier for me than for some people in the class last summer because this is my first year in elementary. I wasn't in a real habit of teaching reading one way. I wasn't changing what I did. (V. 2, pp. 14, 15)
The chart comparing random teachers with sequential teachers (Appendix B) shows the random teachers tending to experience more belief changes than sequential teachers. I can think of two rival explanations for this trend. It may be argued that this would be expected since the ECRI method is very sequential and, therefore, more in agreement with a sequential teacher's mind style. Thus it would require fewer changes in belief on the part of sequential thinkers to learn the ECRI method. Or it may be argued that the sequential teachers did not change as much during the three-week training period. Or both arguments may be true. Recall the earlier paragraph where both Tammy and Becky indicated they were slow to change. Gregorc (1987) suggests "the Concrete Sequential can be adverse to change. . . [and] is generally not easily adaptable to new conditions or environments" (p. 20), while "the predominant Concrete Random is not adverse to change" (p. 36). In view of the theoretical construct of mind style as defined by Gregorc, the trend showing more belief changes in the random teachers would have to be explained by the second of the above rival explanations. The sequential teachers did not have as many belief changes as random teachers because they did not change as much during the training. Their lack of change (indicated by making adjustments in their program) was a result of their not wanting to change rather than not needing to change (as a result of being in agreement with ECRI).
According to Gregorc, the AS individual prefers an environment which is mentally stimulating, ordered and quiet, and non-authoritative. Becky indicated her uneasiness with the environment created by ECRI. She longed to have her centers back where students could make choices. She dislikes the pressure associated with ECRI and the chaos created by having 25 students "doing their own thing" during practice time. For Tammy, this is less of an issue because she only has nine students who are older and better able to organize their own tasks and materials. The random teachers did not make any mention of dissonance with the atmosphere created by ECRI. Of practice time, Deana said, "I know my kids are doing something. I have about four who doodle, so I need to work on them" (V. 2, p. 110).
Gregorc says, "The Abstract Sequential is endowed with the amazing ability to decode words and use them with precision"
(p. 25). I noticed this in particular with Tammy. Where other teachers may go quickly over word parts or syllables, Tammy was careful to make sure each part was heard and repeated by the students. In one interview with Tammy I said, "The way you break down your syllables is perfect. It is so concise, lots of other people just fffft over it, but you point out each syllable. The same thing is true for your word parts, these are coming through really clearly" (V. 2, p. 26).
In summary, the sequential teachers in this study approached learning ECRI in rather distinct ways in comparison to the random teachers. The organized, ordered life of sequential individuals causes them to be somewhat resistant to change. During the training they indicated fewer changes in beliefs and evidenced making fewer adjustments. In implementation they tended to add each component in a systematic way as they became comfortable with the previous one. This was particularly true of Becky who, as an experienced teacher, was definitely undergoing a change. Tammy seemed to have more of an attitude of doing "what was expected." Becky and Tammy appeared to have no major problems with materials. They were able to develop them with precision or organize them carefully for later use. While liking the structure provided by ECRI, sequential teachers find the atmosphere created by the practice time somewhat chaotic and will set about to keep it orderly. Precision in the use of language, an AS characteristic, was noted particularly in Tammy's classroom.
In contrast to the orderly fashion demonstrated by sequential teachers; the random teachers, Debbie and Deana, found the preparation and organization of materials to be a major challenge in implementation of ECRI. Random individuals are not resistant to change; in fact, Deana, in particular, enjoys change. During training the random teachers had more belief changes and generally indicated making more adjustments than did sequential teachers. This was probably not an indication that random individuals were required to change more because their mind-style was somewhat contrary to the structure of ECRI, but rather is likely an indication that random individuals are able to change more quickly than sequential individuals.
Developed by Harvey, Hunt, and Schroder in 1961, the construct Conceptual Level (CL) is a "characteristic based on a developmental personality theory that describes persons on a developmental hierarchy of increasing conceptual complexity, self-responsibility, and independence" (Hunt, 1977-78, p. 78). One way to view CL is in relationship to structures which guide the individual. Needing direction and approval from authority figures, low CL persons rely on an external structure. In contrast, high CL persons have an internalized structure. They are less afraid to make mistakes and can behave independently. In matching environments, it is not surprising that low CL students profit more from highly structured situations. It may be hypothesized that in this study low CL teachers will enjoy the structure provided by a program like ECRI.
The Conceptual Level results from the Paragraph Completion Method (PCM) (Table 5) are given for teachers who seemed most likely to implement ECRI. Since these paragraph completions were graded by one of the authors of PCM, at my expense, I chose only selected individuals for the assessment. The comments of the grader are significant:
I had some trouble scoring your sample. A number of the S's relied on God for their decision making. It was necessary to get beyond that and look for any reference to self-reliance in order to score their responses fairly. If God and prayer are the answers to how they function, then they are relying on a Supreme Authority and external structure which would mean they are low CL.
The CL results in this study range from 1.0 to 2.7. "Level 1 is associated with conformity to societal conventions and the placing of emphasis upon rules and authority; level 2 sees the beginning of the attainment of independent type functioning, while level 3 individuals have achieved empathic yet independent behavior" (Raphael, Moss, & Rosser, 1979, p. 328).
In this cross-case analysis, high CL (2.0 - 2.7) teachers are compared with low CL (1.0 - 1.3) teachers during the three-week training session (Appendix B-2). Several trends appear to validate the theoretical construct of Conceptual Level. As might be expected, low CL teachers tend to make more statements saying that they `like' or `agree' with ECRI. Since low CL individuals need more structure, it is possible that low CL teachers would enjoy using a structured program such as ECRI. Tammy, a low CL teacher, stated, "Basically the structure agrees, because I know what to expect and the students know what to expect" (V. 2, p. 15). In contrast, Becky, Deana, and Debbie tended to make fewer statements in agreement with the ECRI program but more statements indicating their beliefs were changing.
Two rival explanations may help understand this slight trend of more belief changes among high CL teachers. First, it may be postulated that high CL teachers, preferring less structured situations, experienced more changes in their beliefs as they learned the highly structured ECRI method than did the low CL teachers. An example of a teacher experiencing this type of change is Deana who said, "I would not have gone so heavily into the
structured repetition. I'd be leery of the amount of repetition if I had not seen how content the students are to follow the system" (V. 2, p. 50).
Another possible explanation would be that high CL individuals were able to experience more belief changes because they do not have to depend on an outside authority for structure, but used an internalized structure which permitted them to change their beliefs as they deemed necessary. Becky showed signs of independent thinking as she endeavored to sort through her beliefs about positive reinforcement. Both Deana and Debbie recognized direct instruction as a viable teaching strategy one which they enjoyed.
Of the two rival explanations, the latter appears most plausible to me. One study, that of Showers' (1984), did find that high CL individuals were able to transfer training more often than low CL, but that CL was not so significant if teachers were coached. Tammy's implementation of ECRI is in direct conflict with Showers' findings. Tammy with a low CL and absolutely no support (in a one-teacher school) implemented more ECRI components than any other teacher. In searching for an explanation of this conundrum, the discussion in the next section may help. Also, it must be remembered that Showers (1984) study was not of direct instruction and, therefore, the two studies cannot be exactly compared.
In this study, low CL teachers during training tended to make more statements indicating they were in agreement with the ECRI program. It is impossible to know if this agreement was stated because low CL's look to authority figures or if the agreement was because the low CL teachers enjoyed the structure provided by ECRI or a combination of both. In contrast, high CL teachers who profit less from structure tended to make fewer statements saying they were in agreement with ECRI and tended to have more belief changes during the training. In implementation independent thought was particularly noticed with Becky who challenged certain critical aspects of ECRI.
The evaluation of operational level as defined by Piaget (1973) indicates five of the teachers at formal operations (Table 5). For the purposes of this study, teachers were divided into high and low operational level and formal and concrete operational level (Appendix B). Several trends are indicated; however, an understanding of the constructs "formal operations" and "concrete operations" facilitate explanation of these trends.
Individuals who are functioning at a formal operational level have the ability to handle contrary-to-fact propositions. They can test hypotheses and consider all aspects of a problem. According to Herron (in Boyd, 1989) individuals functioning at formal operations
comprehend through imagination and logical thought; are able to envision all changes that might be possible; are able to reason without needing visual props; can systematically consider all possibilities in a situation; are able to control variables in problem solving. (p. 11) while those at concrete operations
must start with the real rather than the potential; tend to
solve a problem by trial and error; best comprehend concepts which
can be observed by the senses directly. (p. 11)
Since prior research has not revealed how operational level affects individuals in change, these results are mostly descriptive of the sample of teachers who completed the training and endeavored to implement the ECRI program during the school year 1990-1991. Looking at Table B-3 in Appendix B some distinct trends can be noted. While all teachers had some practices which matched ECRI before the training began, the high operational level teachers made many more links with their prior knowledge and their ideas of what was practical and sensible in education. In contrast, low operational level teachers tended to view the concepts encountered in training as primarily new ideas. In their thinking processes they did not appear to connect with their previous ideas to the extent which high OL teachers did. As the training progressed, high OL teachers tended to make more statements indicating that they understood what they would have to do to make the change to ECRI. They were adjusting as they realized they would have to change their schedules, make materials, find books for enrichment reading, etc.
Another point of distinction was shown in the high OL's recognition that they were learning new skills. For example, Deana said, "I've learned that directives work and I've learned how to use them" (V. 1, p. 54), while Tammy knew she had learned more about leading discussions. During the training, the low OL's did not mention any new skills they were learning even though they had equal opportunity and were answering the same questions as the high OL's. This trend continued to a degree throughout implementation. In February, Deana believed she had acquired new skills in the use of directives as well as in simplifying explanations. She recognized the whole idea of direct instruction was giving her new skills in teaching. Tammy recognized she had gotten "better at having the students analyze new words" (V. 2, p. 35) and was using that skill in other classes. She also knows she has become more positive as a result of using positive reinforcement. Although she finds it natural to reinforce the negative, she is learning to "look away and not smile" when students are off task. Of the low OL teachers, Becky in the last interview could not think of any new skills she had acquired.
Generally throughout the training, the low OL teachers were making more thoughtful evaluations of ECRI. It appears as though the low OL teachers were thinking about ECRI while the high OL teachers were linking the same ideas with their knowledge of teaching and were planning the adjustments they would make in implementation.
During the training, all high OL teachers complained about having to memorize directives. Lisa said, "I am concerned about the amount of memorizing for the course. For me, memorizing sometimes gets in the way of the context" (V. 1, p. 84).
Another interesting trend during training was the self concerns revealed by all high OL teachers. The last day of training, Sophia said, "I need more help as far as accuracy, writing better overheads, and listening for correct pronunciations" (V. 1, p. 66). In the first questionnaire, Lisa responded, "I am only concerned about my own limitations" (V. 1, p. 82).
A factor similar to self-concerns was physical manifestations which were observed throughout the training. These coded segments are not listed on the table because the majority of the data were not collected from questionnaires. However, there was a strong trend for physical manifestations to be present among high OL teachers but almost non-existent among low OL teachers. After the first week, Sophia shared, "I was so depressed last night. It was overwhelming" (V. 1, p. 59). Later when having her directives checked off, her hands were shaking and she was very nervous. "`I can't believe it, I'm going blank,' she said as she forgot the directives and decided to try again" (V. 1, p. 61).
From a cultural perspective, these self-concerns and physical manifestations can be interpreted to indicate the disintegration which is initially felt in a new culture. Until the time when new meanings are established, the individual feels `disconnected.'
Why are these indications present in high OL and not in low OL? The high OL teachers appear to be processing information in a different fashion than low OL teachers. Possibly the change which high OL teachers are experiencing is causing a greater disintegration of their value system.
In summary, the high OL teachers processed information in dissimilar ways than low OL teachers during the training. High OL individuals tended to make more links with their prior knowledge, indicated they were learning new skills and making adjustments in preparation for implementation. While doing this, they experienced more self-concerns and physical manifestations than low OL individuals. In contrast, low OL teachers viewed concepts presented during training as new ideas and spent time thoughtfully evaluating the ECRI program. This finding is in agreement with Fullan et al. (1989) who found that "many teachers make the necessary connections to other areas of technical knowledge that they already have in their repertoires. Other teachers fail to make those connections" (p. 20).
In this study, the high operational level teacher is seen grappling with new ideas by trying to find links with their prior knowledge. They are questioning aspects of the ECRI program and looking for possible solutions to their quandary. In their thinking processes, I see some distinct similarities with Kolb's learning cycle (Kolb & Fry, 1975). Beginning with the Concrete Experience, Kolb suggests an effective learner proceeds to Reflective Observation, Abstract Conceptualization, and Active Experimentation.
Kolb and Fry (1975) suggest that the learner
must be able to involve himself fully, openly and without bias in new experiences (CE), he must be able to reflect on and observe these experiences from any perspectives (RO), he must be able to create concepts that integrate his observations into logically sound theories (AC) and he must be able to use these theories to make decisions and solve problems (AE). (p. 36)
The many segments coded `practicality' revealed high operational level teachers searching their minds for schema which
|Testing implications of concepts in new situations||Observations and reflections|
Formation of abstract
concepts and generalizations
explain their experience. This would coincide with Kolb's reflective observations. High OL teachers consider the ECRI program and envision the difficulties which would arise as they began making adjustments (at least cognitively) to their programs similar to the formation of abstract concepts and generalizing. Actively experimenting, high OL teachers acquire new skills. In this brief analysis, it appears as though the high OL teachers naturally use cognitive practices similar to the experiential learning cycle (Kolb). This has some implications for inservice training which are clarified in the final chapter.
Using Szabo's (1989) typology (Figure 4), one notes that all teachers are near the quadrant marked "tested."
Debbie and Tammy are clearly in situations of low support and high difficulty. Deana's working conditions are marked by average support and high difficulty, while Becky has a situation of low support and average difficulty. These findings are not in complete agreement with Hopkins (1990) who found higher levels of implementation among those in more collegial school climates. Tammy, the teacher who implemented the most ECRI components according to the checklist (Appendix C), has very difficult working conditions. Implementing in a single-teacher school, she has no strong supports and although she has only nine students, three of them require special attention which she, as a first-year teacher, is not equipped to handle. Debbie's problems in implementation would be the more expected response in situations of low support and high difficulty.
|X DEANA Tested||Coached|
Figure 4. A typology of working conditions. (Figure based on Szabo's 1989 study.)
The observation that impressed me most as the teachers and I discussed their working conditions was their idea of support. Initially, most believed they were in situations of high support the reason being they were not being hassled by boards, principals, or parents. When I explained high support as technical assistance in their implementation of ECRI, they were amazed to think this was even possible. Accustomed to having principals and superintendents who hardly "know what they are doing," they had never experienced any form of specific assistance. That teachers need support in their workplace is graphically portrayed by Little (1982) and Shulman (1989). Teachers do not develop meaning while in isolation.
Level of Use
All teachers were at the "mechanical use" level according to Loucks et al. (1975). They were all preoccupied with various critical components of ECRI and were trying to master the tasks required for implementation. All four teachers were using skills, spelling, practice time, and enrichment reading on a regular basis. The other components were generally used irregularly or not at all. Teachers were struggling with materials and schedules and were generally wanting information about how other teachers were managing. All teachers were concerned about comprehension and were having difficulty scheduling individual conferences. The ECRI checklist of 34 concepts introduced during training (Appendix C) gives an idea of the degree to which teachers were using ECRI in late February to early March 1991. Giving three points for items used regularly and one point for those aspects which were notregularly scheduled, Tammy acquired 78 points, Deana had 73 points, Becky 68 points, and Debbie 53 points. (A teacher who was using all 34 concepts on a regularly scheduled basis would have 102 points). Tammy's response to her working conditions contrasts the results of Hopkins (1990) and Showers (1984) studies which showed less implementation in difficult school climates. It is interesting to note that the two teachers who implemented the most critical components were both functioning at a high operational level.
Another way to interpret the level of use of ECRI is from the cultural perspective. Mansell (1981) says that an individual in a marginal state "chooses not to identify completely with either culture. Although actively participating in the new situation, the desire to maintain certain standards, values, and customs of the primary culture persists, and comparing the two situations becomes routine" (p. 102). Becky and Debbie had some previous practices which they were not able to relinquish. Debbie habitually compared scope and sequence charts to make sure the students were getting the required skills. She also continued to use workbooks because she was not comfortable with her implementation of ECRI comprehension strategies. While Becky did not order workbooks and, therefore, had no temptation to use them, she did continue to use SRA and phonics books and expressed a desire to use learning centers again.
The stages following marginality in Mansell's (1981) scheme are acculturation and duality. In acculturation the individual "often reveals an attitude of rejection toward the original culture, as shown in this statement: "I find it depressing to go back. Can't stand the system" . . ." (p. 103). Tammy, Deana, and Debbie all made statements to the effect that when they considered going back to the regular reading program, they knew they could not. In duality the individual "reflects a membership in two worlds of experience with satisfying levels in both" (p. 103). Although none of the four teachers was having an entirely satisfying experience with ECRI, Deana expressed recognition of the value of ECRI in conjunction with several other strategies she was using. If she and the others persist in the use of ECRI, they may have a sense of duality or comfort with several different strategies. Mapping the four teachers on Mansell's continuum (Figure 5) gives another picture of their adjustment to ECRI.
Becky Debbie Tammy Deana x x x x Alienation Marginality Acculturation Duality
Figure 5: Stages of a transcultural experience
This cross-case analysis revealed patterns pervading the training and first year of implementation of ECRI. Characteristic ways of relating to the process of change are delineated in various contextual factors. Clearly, random teachers relate to change differently than sequential teachers. High conceptual level teachers have characteristic ways of relating to a direct instruction reading approach which are different from low conceptual level teachers. And, likewise, for high and low operational level. The implications for these differences are discussed in chapter 7.