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Leadership in the Age of Blended Learning: A Mixed Methods Comparative Case Study of Four Middle Schools

  • Author(s): Dong, Xianhui Grace;
  • Advisor(s): Sandoval, William A.;
  • et al.
Abstract

This study examined the school-wide implementation of one blended learning program, Acceleration, at four middle schools in the Greater Los Angeles Area. Implementation was examined in the context of adoption and performance, with a focus on challenges and resolutions. The sample was comprised of 30 teachers and administrators at four middle schools serving students in grades 6-8. This mixed methods study was in two phases. For the first phase, I analyzed quantitative data on Acceleration adoption and performance at 73 public and public charter K-12 schools during the 2018-2019 school year. For the second phase, I selected four middle schools serving students in grades 6-8 from my phase one sample. These four middle schools had contrasting low and high adoption and performance levels (LaLp, LaHp, HaLp, HaHp). Then, I identified challenges and resolutions across low and high adoption schools. I also determined how a school’s leadership structure influenced how challenges were defined and resolved. My findings show that while low and high adopter schools did not vary by the type of challenge or by the type of resolution, high adopter schools tended to resolve blended learning challenges systematically while low adopter schools tended to resolve blended learning challenges on a case-by-case basis. I also found that high adopter schools tended to have interconnected leadership cultures that facilitated the creation of systems and structures, ensuring that adoption and performance resolutions occurred at the system-wide, school-wide level. Low adopter schools tended to have disjointed leadership cultures with limited facilitation of systems and structures, ensuring that adoption and performance resolutions occurred on a case-by-case basis.

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