THE CONCEPT OF COMMUNITY IN MEETING THE CONCEPT OF A GOOD SCHOOL FROM THE PERSPECTIVES OF TEACHERS, STUDENTS, PARENTS, AND SCHOOL ADMINISTRATION

Gintautė Žibėnienė

Abstract


For the past three decades, Lithuania has been working on the creation and development of the Good School. The Good School Concept, approved in 2015 and developed in response to the National School Concept (1988), encourages the continuation of this discussion. Educational reform in Lithuania began in 1988 when the National School Concept was introduced, which aimed at fostering a vision of the national and civic school. Based on the Lithuanian educational documents, the General Concept of Education in Lithuania and the Good School Concept (2015) emphasize the close collaboration between family, school, and society. The Good School Concept of 2015 states that “the good school is a school that aspires towards the foundation of humanistic values to seek the creation of meaning, discovery, and personal success, which, in its activities, is guided by the decisions made by its community members”.
This article presents both quantitative and qualitative research. The current study is a part of the wider research “The Conception of School Community of General Education School Progress in terms of the Good School Concept”. The quantitative research presented in this article takes the form of a questionnaire survey performed in 2018, which involved representatives of general education school management and teachers, as well as grade 7–12 gymnasium students and their parents. The qualitative research in this paper is an interview performed in 2018, which involved representatives of general education school management and teachers, as well as grade 7–12 gymnasium students and their parents.
The following criteria were used in the selection of respondents, who were eligible to be involved if they: held the position of school principal or deputy director for education; worked as a teacher, had at least 2 years of pedagogical work experience at school, and participated in school activities; or were a student, studying according to the programs of grades 7–8, grades 9–10, or grades 11–12, were delegated to the school participating in the study, and had parental consent to participate in the study. With the help of purposeful sampling, comprehensive schools were chosen that each delegated one parent who had a child studying in grades 7–12 and who was acquainted with the activities of the school. Qualitative research was chosen as a method because of its association with the social constructivist paradigm, which emphasises the socially constructed nature of reality.
The criteria applied for the selection of comprehensive schools meant ensured that they were: from different regions of the country – to include schools from a city, big town, town, and village; and founded by both state and public institutions. When analyzing the perception of the progress announced by general education schools, it is important to remember that a school is an organization operating in a complex and changing social environment and involving many different social groups, such as school administrators, teachers, students, parents, and other parties. This is based on a pre-existing idea from the Good School Concept (2015): that education in Lithuania is founded on close collaboration between the family, school, and society.
This article addresses the scientific problem that the view of the general education school community towards the wider community as an important element in a good school is not sufficiently elucidated. The following problem-based issues are then formulated: What is the concept of community? Which characteristics of the community are important to the members of the general education school community in a good school? How important is the learning community to the members of the school community in a good school?
The object of this research is the concept of community in a good school from the perspectives of teachers, students, parents of students, and school administration, in order to meet the concept of a good school.
The aim of this research is to reveal the concept of community in a good school from the perspectives of teachers, students, parents of students, and school administration, in meeting the concept of a good school.
The research methods used were: analysis of academic literature and educational documents; structured interviews; and questionnaire.
To analyze the interview, content analysis was adopted, (Bitinas, Rupšienė, and Žydžiūnaitė, 2008) which allowed for the formation of conclusions based on the text analyzed. Qualitative content analysis was used to analyze the interview data, which allowed for the drawing of conclusions based on the text analyzed. This method of analysis was based on systematic analytical steps: multiple readings of records; and the systematic interpretation of distinguished categories and subcategories and their justification based on the evidence from the transcribed texts – i.e., the confirmatory statements. According to the qualitative research methodology, the confirmatory statements are extracts from answers provided by the participants which cannot be changed by the researcher; therefore, they are quoted exactly as given by the participants. The initial interview data was handled in such a way as to ensure that it was impossible to identify the persons involved in the study. The research was organized and data analysis was carried out and presented based on the principles of qualitative research ethics: ensuring respect for individual privacy, confidentiality, and anonymity, with goodwill and justice. The statistical analysis of the questionnaire survey was performed using the SPSS Statistics17.0 software. Pearson’s non-parametric chi-squared (χ2) test was also applied, which helped to identify the statistical independence of variables.
A number of conclusions were thereby reached.
The qualitative study revealed that school administration representatives, teachers, students, and parents identified the school community among the traits that revealed a good school, but differed on what constitutes a good community. However, the quantitative survey revealed that school administration and teachers did not name community as one of the five most important signs of a good school.
Qualitative research revealed different concepts of community: school administration representatives attributed many features to a community in a good school, but teachers named only the learning community. In the opinion of parents, the community must be involved in discussing and developing school strategy, and students distinguished its cooperative nature as the main feature of the community.
The concept of community as understood by school administration representatives perfectly responds to the agreed features of the community mentioned in Lithuanian legal acts and scientific literature – learning, reflective, focused, cooperative, open, and empathetically caring about the well-being of each member. The concept of community in other school community target groups (teachers, students, and parents of students) in a good school is fragmented.

Keywords


school community, teachers, students, parents, school.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.13165/SD-21-19-1-06

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