Individual, organisational and community empowerment : applying a community psychology framework to a school development programme.

Hassett, Alexander Richard
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This study focused on whether empowerment at individual, organisational and community levels was evident in the context of a school development planning programme. A contextualist, multi-method approach to the study was used, combining quantitative and qualitative data. A School Development Planning Evaluation Scale was developed to assess organisational empowerment in a school context. Quantitative data measuring variables associated with empowerment were also examined to establish whether involvement in the programme was associated with empowerment at the individual (locus of control and general and specific efficacy) and organisational (participation and leadership) levels. An ex post facto analysis based on a post-test only comparison group evaluation design was conducted to explore the impact of the programme. Focus groups and interviews were conducted to establish whether school staff reported that involvement in the programme had led to their personal empowerment and the empowerment of their schools. Archival data relating to the schools were also examined. Relationships between the variables were explored using multiple regression and structural equation modelling. A model of school development was developed and tested. The results indicated that extent of involvement in the programme was not a significant influence on level of empowerment. More important was the influence of school leadership, and in particular the leadership style exercised by the principal. Impact and relationship matrices, integrating the quantitative and qualitative analyses, indicated that the programme had effects on both individuals and schools, and that the process of school development planning was related to aspects of organisational empowerment. Issues of organisational internal capacity and contextual support, however, influenced implementation of school development planning. The study suggests that school development planning is a process which is contextually related, and confirms and refines the nomological network of II organisational empowerment. The results indicate that a variety of individual, organisational and contextual factors impact on individual and organisational empowerment and that a multi-level perspective is necessary for understanding the school development process. The study also suggests that community psychology, and empowerment theory in particular, offer useful frameworks for theorising and researching school development issues at individual, organisational and community levels.
Community psychology, Empowerment, Organisational development, School development, Ecological perspetive, Contextualist epistemology, Multi-method research