The socialization of academic promotion policies in East Central Alberta
Rothwell, Melissa Jennifer
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This research examined how attitudes and subjective norms influence behavioral intentions and socialization of the academic promotion policies and procedures in five school divisions located in East Central Alberta. This inquiry is warranted because social promotion, retention, and acceleration are controversial policies and procedures. The research consists of a textual analysis of publicly available academic promotion policies and procedures and a thematic analysis of semi-structured interviews. The textual analysis found that the documents were well written and left little room for interpretation, a finding that provided a basis from which to investigate the socialization and interpretation factors associated with the policies and procedures. The textual analysis found similarities in the language used in school divisions throughout East Central Alberta. These connections demonstrate that all the school divisions wrote material using plainly accessible language and referred to, or at least used, the guidance of both the School Act and the Guide to Education. The use of these documents suggests that all the participants should have consistent views on the policies and procedures and the method of implementation. However, the thematic analysis found five themes that demonstrate that the texts were socialized differently and left room for different definitions and implementations based on their socialization. This research found that at least in the context of East Central Alberta, it may not be the policy or procedure that is flawed when considering academic promotion policies but that persuasion and perception play a vital role in how such policies and procedures are implemented. The results of this study suggest that even clearly written policy and procedural documents can be interpreted in unintended ways based on preconceived notions. I found that academic trends and innovative practices created in the Alberta education sector appear to be modeled after current academic practices that are understood to be in the best interest of the children rather than the administrative needs of a school division. Alberta Education and the school divisions follow academic research in hopes of finding solutions to encourage student learning. These trends are likely to be socialized and interpreted based on the individual, the media, and the educator’s workload.
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