Details of Thesis

TitleEducational Restructuring in Catholic Schools: A case study of St John's College, Woodlawn: Towards a personalist account
Author Chapman, Raymond F.
Institution Australian Catholic University
Date 2011
AbstractThis study focuses on educational restructuring in Catholic schools. In particular, it is a case study of an episode of educational restructuring that occurred at St John's College, Woodlawn during the years 1994 to 2000. From being a small boarding-only boys' school in 1994, the college became a co-educational day school within the short period of six years. At the beginning of 2001, St John's College became a systemic school, fully integrated into the diocese of Lismore, New South Wales. This research study assumed that educational restructuring is a complex and unpredictable exercise. Moreover, this study recognised that those leading the episode of educational restructuring at St John's College lacked a clear theoretical foundation for their work. Consequently, the purpose of this study was framed in terms of gaining a more informed and sophisticated understanding of educational restructuring in Catholic schools such as St John's College. In particular, this study asked three research questions: Research Question One: How did the direction givers understand the purpose of educational restructuring at St John's College? Research Question Two: How did the direction givers understand the process of educational restructuring at St John's College? Research Question Three: How did the direction givers understand the leadership of educational restructuring at St John's College? With these research questions in mind, the study was situated within the theoretical perspective of Symbolic Interactionism and the interpretivist/constructivist paradigm of research. It also represented a particular case study and was limited in scope to the episode of educational restructuring that occurred at St John's College from 1994 to 2000. The study relied on qualitative data collection methods in two stages: exploration and inspection. Within the exploration stage, the data collection methods included the use of a researcher's journal and the compilation of a large collection of historical documents. These historical documents included official correspondence, minutes of meetings, personal correspondence, notes, letters, reports, feasibility studies and other archival material relating to the period of the educational restructuring per se and leading up to it (e.g. from 1982). During the inspection stage, person-to-person interviews were conducted with key direction givers. Once collected, the data were analysed and interpreted according to an iterative process. This research study resulted in a number of findings with respect to the purpose, process and leadership of educational restructuring. To support future episodes of educational restructuring, this research study recommends that those engaged in administrative leadership: 1. Articulate and communicate the moral purpose that underpins educational restructuring; 2. Adopt organic, strategic-systemic processes to educational restructuring that reflect a synthesis of strategic processes and personalist themes; 3. Frame their administrative leadership in educational restructuring in terms of intrapreneurship and the cultural and political transformation of school culture; 4.Consider the charism, spirituality and educational philosophy of a religious congregation and/or the philosophical framework of personalism as a source of support in the context of educational restructuring. Finally, this research study makes a contribution to research in educational restructuring and educational leadership by highlighting the human dimension of educational change. In addition, it acknowledges and affirms the philosophy of personalism as being a useful interpretative lens to understand and to facilitate educational restructuring.
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