Date of Conferral

2015

Degree

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)

School

Education

Advisor

Barbara Hunter

Abstract

Low teacher morale and high attrition rates can be attributed in part to educational policy changes and instructional decisions made by individuals who are not connected to the classroom. Time constraints, logistical struggles of getting a critical mass of teachers together, and the geography of rural Iowa schools all play a role in teachers' inability to form a unified voice. The Voices Ideas Vision Action (VIVA) Idea Exchangeâ?¢ is an online process that combines crowd-sourcing methods with individual engagement strategies over a 6- to 8-week period. The purpose of this study was to determine the impact the VIVA program has on teachers' perceptions of their role within the educational system, specifically in the areas of morale, leadership, and ownership of school policy. The literature revealed when teachers were not involved in the process, they became disenfranchised, attrition rates rose, and student learning was impacted. The theoretical framework of positive administrative engagement was the basis for the research. Using a qualitative approach, individual interviews were conducted with 10 participants to determine the effectiveness of the VIVA with regard to participants' views on their ownership in school policy reform. Interview data were transcribed and coded for emergent themes and patterns. Analysis of data revealed 5 themes: (a) program format, (b) teachers' role in policy development, (c) improved communication needs, (d) VIVA as a proactive tool, and (e) moving forward with VIVA. This study may empower teachers earlier in their careers, which may result in lower attrition rates and a higher level of teacher buy-in to the policies and procedures instilled by local and state government. Implications are that the online VIVA exchange can build morale by positively engaging classroom teachers and infusing their voices in policy-making.

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