The Study of the Communication System in Selected School Districts of the State of Iowa and the Design of a Model System for School Districts of More Than 4,000 Students
Buchanan, Charles Douglas
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The problem. Communication is probably management's most talked about issue. The destiny of any society, group, or individual is determined largely by the ability to communicate positively and successfully. Whether communication is concerned with matters of profound import or with the minutiae of everyday interpersonal exchanges the achieving of effective communication is one of the most severe problems facing man in his modern world. It is difficult to imagine any aspect of administrative work that does not involve communicating with others. Procedure. Through data gathered by the Iowa Center for Research in School Administration, The University of Iowa, and presented in the Financial Accounting Technique Report (Project FACT, 1973), twenty school districts with enrollments in excess of 4,000 students were identified and labeled as the sample group. A survey instrument was designed and validated. This survey instrument was then mailed to the Superintendents of Schools of the identified sample of school districts. This survey dealt with communication systems components involving the Board of Education, Administrative Relationships, District Employees, School Patrons and the Community, and Students. Concurrent with the survey, a review of current literature on the subject of communication was conducted, specifically dealing with (1) the definition of communication; (2) communication theory and models; and (3) communication methods. In addition, the presence or absence of legal requirements for internal and/or external communication for school districts in the State of Iowa was investigated. Findings. Evidence suggests that educational leaders in large school districts do not recognize the need and importance of communication to organizational effectiveness. The lack of a public relations specialist, budgetary allocation for communication, annual report to patrons, and effective use of media presently available to school districts substantiate this viewpoint. A comprehensive communication model was designed through a comparison of the communication systems existing in the selected sample of districts in the State of Iowa and communication theory reported in the literature. A guide was formulated for use by school personnel for the evaluation of the existing network of communication. Requirements for external communication with residents or patrons of a local school district as defined by the School Laws of Iowa were found to be more comprehensive than the required internal communication. Yet, the requirements for either type of communication are not numerous. Conclusions. Based upon the results of this study, it appears that the sample school districts do recognize it is important to communicate with school patrons and the community; however, the questioning of decisions through formulated grievance procedures is discouraged. The absence of job descriptions, particularly for members of the teaching staff, presents a possible source of conflict between role expectations and role perceptions. The leadership function of upper level management in communication is recognized. However, the opportunity for face-to-face communication between building administrators and the school board is limited. The importance of feedback to communicative attempts is accepted in most school districts. "Upward" communication is solicited. Yet, the formal lines of communication are still observed as adhering to the organizational chart of the district. The role of evaluation in the communication process is not recognized as valuable in dealing with non-certified employees in school districts. Finally, from this study, there is evidence that communication with students by the school staff is not given importance and the role that students play in communicating with the public is not well defined.
175 leaves. Advisor: Dr. Robert Whitt