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Dr. Jan Ware Russell is a 2013 graduate of the PhD Program in Leadership and Change at Antioch University.

Left Photo : Dr. Russell at her dissertation defense

Left to Right : Dr. Elizabeth Holloway, Committee Member, PhD Program in Leadership & Change, Antioch University, Dr. Carol Baron, Chair, PhD Program in Leadership & Change, Antioch University, Dr. Jan Ware Russell, Dr. Jane Miller, External Reader, Antioch University New England.

Document Type

Dissertation

Publication Date

2013

Abstract

Progressive education has a long history within the American K-12 education system dating back to the late 1800s. During this period, two very distinct ideologies represented progressive education: 1) administrative progressives supporting standardization as a means of efficiency and 2) pedagogical progressives supporting child-centered learning based upon a well-rounded education. This study looks at 82 contemporary pedagogical progressive schools to identify common characteristics. Child-centered learning, community integration, and democratic decision-making were the three overarching philosophies covered in this study. Data was collected through an online survey of school leaders. The majority of research surrounding progressive education is qualitative and focuses on the experience of teachers, students, parents, or administrators, and not the characteristics of the school. This study is a mixed methods study that uses quantitative and qualitative methods to identify qualities found in contemporary progressive schools. Findings are intended to help school leaders plan for growth and sustainability. A 6-point scale was used to gather school leaders’ level of disagreement or agreement about whether particular educational practices associated with each philosophy occur within their school. Mean scores for the educational practice items for each philosophy were the independent variables in the regression analyses. A 10-point semantic differential rating scale was used to identify the school leaders’ perceptions of whether their school was adhering to each philosophy. These ratings were used as the dependent variable in the regression analyses. Significant educational practice items for each philosophy include: Child-Centered Learning Practices—Student learning is assessed through formative assessments (progress with feedback) versus summative assessments (grade or percentage scores), Student learning is based upon discovery through an independent learning process, Small group student interaction creates learning opportunities; Community Integration Practices—Student community service is used as a learning experience, Education occurs within the local community at various businesses and/or organizations; Democratic Decision-Making Practices—Stakeholders have equal voting power in decisions, Decisions are made based upon the greatest good for the greatest number, Consensus is preferred to majority rule, Decisions are made that create inclusion versus exclusion of stakeholders. This dissertation is accompanied by an MP4 video of the author’s introduction. The electronic version of this Dissertation is at OhioLink ETD Center, www.ohiolink.edu/etd