School administrators' perceptions and practices associated with the utilization of eWalk during classroom walk-throughs

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Johnson, Benjamin
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Scott Mcleod
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Educational Leadership and Policy Studies

In the era of accountability, school administrators must not only meet the demands of merely managing a building but must also serve as the instructional leader and lead learner working to improve both the teaching and learning of the institution. Increasingly, administrators are using the supervisory practice of classroom walk-throughs as a means of formative evaluation to purposefully monitor and evaluate the intended curriculum as well as lead the learning within professional learning communities in order to assess the enacted curriculum as a means to improve student academic achievement. The classroom walk-through process can assist administrators in creating a systemic process to monitor implementation of instructional practices, professional development initiatives, and student learning experiences. Recently, electronic evaluation technologies and tools (EETT) such as eWalk are being utilized in conjunction with walk-throughs as a method for collecting, aggregating, and disaggregating data as well as the catalyst to improve the teaching-learning process. The aggregate data gathered through the use of eWalk allows for the administrators to engage the faculty in meaningful and reflective discussions regarding the schools instructional practices.

This study examined how the level of eWalk use, as determined by frequency and years of experience, impacted building-level school administrators' practices and behaviors regarding the intent of conducting classroom walk-throughs. The purpose of this study was to: (a) gather general demographic information; (b) answer general questions regarding information on demographics and frequency of classroom walk-through behavior; (c) descriptive research regarding the perception of the purpose of the function and intent of the administrator as he/she conducts classroom walk-throughs; (d) reveal perceptions of their behavior to function as the lead learner, conducting joint classroom walk-throughs, sharing of the walk-through data results; and (e) explore the associated practices tied to the framework of Balanced Leadership and those behaviors linked to conducting walk-throughs.

This study used quantitative research methods to analyze the descriptive and inferential statistics (ANOVA) of administrative practices and their perceptions through a self-reported questionnaire to determine the impact of using eWalk during the classroom walk-through process. The Qualtrics software was the web-based survey tool used to design, administer, and collect respondents' data that was downloaded into Microsoft Excel 2007 and the Statistic Package of Social Sciences (SPSS) version 17.0 for analysis. The survey was sent to an adjusted sample size of 6,325 eWalk users currently serving as administrators in the three states of Georgia, Iowa, and Kentucky with 649 started surveys resulting in an overall response rate of 10.26%. The final data analysis utilized the 411 finished surveys completed by building-level school administrators.

The analysis of the results demonstrated that there were no overall statistically significant results between the level of eWalk use in relationship to the impact upon a) the perception and behavior regarding classroom walk-throughs for formative evaluation, b) the perception of themselves as the lead learner, or c) the change in associated practices linked to the Balanced Leadership framework. However, the practice of sharing aggregate classroom walk-through data with the faculty was linked with statistical significance to an increase in practices associated with conducing classroom walk-throughs with the use of eWalk for a) the purpose of formative evaluation, b) functioning as the lead learner of the faculty, and c) the associated practices of MCREL's Balanced Leadership responsibilities.

The findings of this study illustrate that the practice of sharing the aggregate data gathered during classroom walk-throughs is a cornerstone to the impact of using eWalk as a means to influence a school leader's behavior and practices aimed at improving teaching and learning in the school. The incorporation of eWalk can be the systemic guiding force that a) solidifies the process for collecting data from walk-throughs, b) provides easy to use reports to aid in analysis, c) allows for the administrator to review data trends prior to prompting feedback to spur reflective dialogue, d) assist in creating a professional learning community revolving around discussion of teaching and learning, and e) the data gathered can be incorporated into continuous improvement plans for both the school and district.

Sat Jan 01 00:00:00 UTC 2011