A study of the relationship of three reading systems to perception of elementary school organizational climate



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The purpose of this study was to investigate the relationship of curriculum (three reading systems) to elementary school climate as perceived by principals and teachers. One major hypothesis was tested: H[lowered 1] There will be no significant difference among groups that is predictable by one or all of the organizational climate measures. In addition, three null sub-hypotheses were tested. When variance due to the principals' and reading specialists' dogmatism scores and perception of supervisory behavior as measured by the semantic differential are controlled: h[lowered 1] The dimension of Esprit will not distinguish among the groups. h[lowered 2] The dimension of Intimacy will not distinguish among the groups. h[lowered 3] The dimension of Disengagement will not distinguish among the groups. The major null hypothesis was rejected at the .0001 level and null sub-hypothesis one at the .0023 level. The second null sub-hypothesis could not be rejected (p<.1864)> nor could the third null sub-hypothesis be rejected (p<.8153). Procedures Twenty-five Title I schools in a large urban school district comprised the research sample with nine schools assigned a linear-programmed reading system, Behavioral Research Laboratories' Project Read (BRL), eight schools assigned a traditional basal reader system, Harcourt Brace Jovanovich (HBJ), and eight schools assigned an open humanistic system, Language Experiences in Reading (LEIR). Subjects included 415 teachers in self-contained classrooms, 25 principals, and 27 reading specialists. The Organizational Climate Description Questionnaire (OCDQ) developed by Halpin and Croft (1963) was used for the measure of perception of climate in the study. The eight subtests of the OCDQ, Disengagement, Hindrance, Esprit, Intimacy, Aloofness, Production Emphasis, and Consideration were used as the dependent variables. Principals, supervisors, and reading specialists were identified as leaders who could have an effect upon perception of school climate. Therefore, it was necessary to remove the effect of leadership behavior through covariance. Two instruments were used for covariance. The Rokeach Dogmatism Scale was administered to principals and reading specialists; the raw scores of each were used as covariates. A Semantic Differential (SD) to measure perception of supervisory behavior was administered to all subjects. A factor SD mean score was calculated and used as the third covariate in the multivariate analysis of variance (MANOVA). The independent variables were the three reading systems, BRL, HBJ, and LEIR. Findings and Conclusions Several conclusions were derived from an analysis of the data. Findings indicated that the difference in climate was a function of the reading programs. In comparing mean scores, it was found that the HBJ group had the most closed profile when compared to the other two groups. The HBJ group obtained the most closed mean score on six dimensions: Hindrance, Esprit, Intimacy, Aloofness, Production Emphasis, and Thrust. The BRL group appeared to have the most open climate profile, with five of the eight dimensions having scores in the most open direction: Hindrance, Esprit, Aloofness, Thrust, and Consideration. The LEIR group profile fell between the other two groups. It obtained the middle mean score on four dimensions, Hindrance, Esprit, Aloofness, and Thrust, the most open mean score on Intimacy and Production Emphasis, and the most closed score on Consideration and Disengagement. It had been predicted that the LEIR group would obtain the most open climate profile as compared to the other two groups, and that the BRL group would obtain the most closed profile with the HBJ group scoring between the other two groups. The notion that the structure of the reading systems would parallel the structure of climate prompted the prediction. It was concluded that the structure of the reading programs was not related to climate differences; rather, it seemed obvious that other dynamics operating within the programs contributed to climate differences. Even though the BRL and LEIR programs deviated in their psychological dynamics and structure, the fact that they were different from the traditional program seemed to account for a greater perception of openness by the staffs of the two innovative groups. It is possible that a Hawthorn effect was generated by the two innovative programs and that as instructional programs move away from a traditional textbook approach, regardless of the structure and philosophic base of the program, perception of climate will tend to be more open. It was hypothesized that the BRL group scored significantly higher on the task-achievement dimensions, Esprit, Hindrance, Thrust, and Consideration, because of the ample diagnostic, evaluative, and instructional materials provided in the packaged program. Hygienic needs were met by having the tools of production available, thus there was less dissatisfaction and a greater perception of openness. The findings of this study indicated that there is a relationship between curriculum and perception of organizational climate in schools. Studies in the past had not considered the possibility of this relationship. In subsequent studies of perception of school climate, curriculum is apparently a factor which should be considered.