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Issues In Educational Research, Vol 14, 2004
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Affecting the affective: Affective outcomes in the context of school effectiveness, school improvement and quality schools

Carl Leonard
NSW Department of Education & Training
Sid Bourke and Neville Schofield
University of Newcastle
The late 20th Century saw the rapid rise of quality assurance and effectiveness measures in most industries and organisations. These trends were very much reflected in education at all levels. An associated emergent trend in primary and secondary education in Australia was growth in the use of standardised measures of student achievement that increasingly served (and continue to serve) as a major source of data in judging school effectiveness. While cognitive measures are important outcomes of schooling, it is reasonable to argue that interpretations of quality and effectiveness that do not include affective measures are too narrow. In particular, these criteria sacrifice what may be regarded as more complex and aesthetic measures of quality and effectiveness, such as student perceptions of aspects of their life at school.

This paper has developmental, theoretical, and philosophical dimensions. The developmental dimension is based on a definition and articulation of a potential future of education advocating a re-aligning of academic and affective student outcomes. Affective measures are identified as important components of school effectiveness and quality assurance as well as the associated implementation of school reform and school improvement to enhance these measures. The theoretical dimension relates to definitions, clarifications, and links between school effectiveness, effective schools, school improvement, school reform, quality education, quality schools, and quality of life. The philosophical dimension aims to ensure high student quality of life, an enhanced mentoring role for educators, and a focus on children's future, health, equity, and access issues.


The late 20th Century saw the rapid rise of quality assurance in most industries and organisations, and in education quality assurance was epitomised as a concern with school effectiveness. Effectiveness measures most often took the form of standardised measures of student achievement in basic skills, and these measures remain the most salient today. While student cognitive development is an essential outcome of schooling, it is argued that interpretations of quality and effectiveness that do not include affective outcomes are inadequate as measures of desirable schooling outcomes.

This paper is concerned with the use of affective measures as important components of school effectiveness and quality assurance as well as the associated implementation of school reform and school improvement to enhance these measures. Support for this thesis can be found in a broad spectrum of the school effectiveness literature. Sammons and Reynolds (1997) and later Sammons (1999), for example, suggested the most appropriate type of assessment of school effectiveness examined the effect of teaching behaviour and school and classroom practice on social and affective outcomes along with the traditional focus of student attainment. The need for this focus was particularly emphasised for under-achieving, poor, and minority students.

An historical perspective on education in Australia provided in a speech by the Honourable Justice Michael Kirby (2001), given in a ceremony to honour William Wilkins, the first under-secretary of public instruction in New South Wales, is particularly significant. Kirby suggested that what separated our system from many others was that even from commencement of public education in this country, a determination existed to make a high quality education available to all children regardless of social class, wealth, or religion. The concept of a quality education was described as a "comprehensive education". Wilkins is regarded by many as the principal figure in the first thirty years of public education in New South Wales from the mid 1860s onwards. He was celebrated as revolutionary for his insistence that education for students go beyond the three "R's" and that teachers take responsibility not only for the intellectual but also for the moral and emotional development of students in their care. It could be argued that the approach advocated by Wilkins has never been more appropriate than in the current climate of rapid economic rationalisation, globalisation, and increasing technological sophistication.

The expanding role of schools in terms of developing the whole student is certainly evident in the literature. The National Project on the Quality of Teaching and Learning (Sawatzki, 1993), for example, recommended that, in the context of the major economic and societal restructuring that had taken place in the late 20th Century, schools needed to change their teaching and learning practices to ensure that students were more highly educated and skilled citizens. Similarly, recent investigations of the teaching service in New South Wales have highlighted that modern society demanded that students be provided with the broadest range of skills and knowledge whilst at school (Ramsey, 2000). Ramsey reported that this was especially important as the delineation between work, social, and learning participation was becoming less clear. This reflected a much earlier emphasis on school as the bridge between the child and adult world as an agent of socialisation. Levine and Havighurst (1984), for example, highlighted that in the century preceding their study, the family had lost much of the control of the socialisation process of children and schools increasingly had taken on this role.

The Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission (HREOC, 2000) has advocated that what is required of education systems is that every person by the age of eighteen receive the education that allows them to participate to their full potential in the social, economic, political, and cultural life of the community (p.4). Further the Commission argued that the challenge confronting both school administrators and the broader community was whether they were prepared to provide the necessary resources to ensure these outcomes of education could be achieved. Such conceptualisations of the purposes of schooling are by no means limited to Australia. In the United States of America, for example, the legislation enacted by the 88th and 89th Congresses mandated the role of schools in addressing societal issues including poverty, unemployment, racial discrimination, urban decay, crime, and violence (Goodlad, 1984).

Purposefully or otherwise, there was a shift away from a broad range of educational outcomes. Whilst school and educational departments espouse that the education of students is undertaken across a dive rsity of outcomes, it would appear that school evaluation, student assessment, and school based research emphasise achievement of a limited range of academic outcomes at the expense of the broader educational curriculum. Schooling forms a major part of the life of children (Ainley & Bourke, 1992) and school and classroom environments have many attributes of adult workplaces (Leonard, 2002; Schofield & Bourke, 1997). Children spend a similar number of hours each day at school as are spent at work by many members of the work force; they undertake mental and physical tasks of similar duration and intensity to many workers; their output is monitored by superiors; and, as with many workplaces, they have a regimented daily routine. Hence in the same way that quality of life is important in adult life, it would appear obvious that student quality of school life is also most important for young persons and is related to many more factors than simply achievement. Quality and effectiveness need to be considered across a broader range of outcomes.

Safe and happy schools and effective learning are promoted when classrooms are rewarding, stimulating environments where students and teachers want to be. The benefits for students and educators of an increased awareness of the nature of positive and negative impacts on student quality of school life, such as satisfaction and stress (respectively), are obvious. It is contended that students who feel good about themselves and are excited and stimulated by their school environment, are more likely to be students who are ready to learn. Students who want to learn will want to be at school and are likely to make an increased effort to attend. An associated improvement in teacher morale and reduction in absenteeism may also be evident (Leonard, Bourke & Schofield, 2003).

Another pressing reason for schools to place greater emphasis on student quality of school life, especially government schools, is decreasing enrolment trends evident for government schools when compared to non-government schools. Clearly it is vital to identify any situational dynamics that may be contributing to these enrolment trends in attempting to address the problem. A similar approach has been advocated with both parents and business through the use of customer dissatisfaction measures (Salisbury, Branson, Altreche, Funk & Broetzman, 1997).

An overview of school effectiveness concepts and research

The much cited, but widely criticised and dismissed thesis in early school effectiveness literature that schools make no difference to student outcomes as advocated by Coleman, Campbell, Hobson, McPartland, Mood, Weinfeld, and York (1966), and Jencks, Smith, Ackland, Bane, Cohen, Gintlis, Heynes, and Michelson (1972) has been replaced by the realisation that schools, classrooms, and education in general impact on the broadest possible range of student outcomes. The research described below has indicated that classroom variables in the main affect cognitive and affective student outcomes, while school variables are more important for student behaviour, attendance, attitudes, and attainment.

Combinations of school and classroom variables have been found to affect student attitudes to school, social development, self esteem, educational progress and attainment, and attendance. Conservative estimates suggest that class and school effects together account for between 8 and 18 per cent of variance in student outcomes (Creemers, 1994, Reynolds, Teddlie, Creemers, Cheng, Dundas, Green, Epp, Hauge, Schaffer & Stringfield, 1994; Stoll & Reynolds, 1997). Moreover, classroom effects account for more variation in student outcomes in all areas than school effects (Creemers & Reezigt, 1999; McGaw, 1997; Stoll & Reynolds, 1997). The identification of class, school, and combination of class and school effects has been described as the most significant breakthrough from more recent school effectiveness research (Creemers, 1994). Some researchers have suggested that while there was no question that student family factors, especially socioeconomic status, impacted on student outcomes and attitudes at school, the more profound impact on student outcomes was related to school and class factors such as school and class climate, leadership, structure, and teaching practices (Darling-Hammond, 2000; Reynolds & Packer, 1992; Sammons, Nuttall & Cuttance, 1993; Teddlie, 1994).

Research regarding specific student outcomes, such as achievement, support this finding. Effective teaching and other class variables, for example, have been identified as accounting for up to 25 per cent of variation in student achievement (Bloom, 1976; Creemers. 1994), while school effects have been estimated to explain 8 per cent of student difference in achievement (Bosker & Witziers, 1996). Perhaps most significantly for the present paper, it has been argued that school and classroom effects may be greatest for non-academic outcomes (Reynolds, 1992).

Importantly, the perception that schools made no difference to student outcomes may have retarded the evolution of school effectiveness research for an extended period of time (Reynolds, 1992). Others have argued that what is required is to examine how these contexts impact upon the emotional, social, and academic growth of students (Creemers 1994; Davis & Thomas, 1989; Fraser, 1991; McGaw, 1997). This is a major purpose of the present paper. Consequently, it would appear that definitions and assessments of school effectiveness that have been developed and implemented during this period are somewhat limited in scope and design.

Perhaps related to the apparent retardation of the development of school effectiveness research, some authors have argued that there is no cross-cultural agreement on a definition of school effectiveness (Chapman & Aspin, 1997; Cuttance, 1992; Reynolds et al., 1994; Stoll & Reynolds, 1997), nor agreement on what makes schools effective (Reynolds & Packer, 1992). Terms such as efficiency, productivity, and the survival power of an organisation are often used as synonyms for effectiveness; however, the appropriateness of their use is questionable (Scheerens & Bosker, 1997). School effectiveness has also been described as "epistemologically problematic and politically promiscuous and malleable" (Slee & Weiner, 1998, p.2). Other researchers have, however, attempted to provide some definition of the key components of school effectiveness. The definition adopted in the current paper defines school effectiveness and efficiency as congruence between objectives and achievements (Cooper, 1993; Madaus, Airasian & Kellaghan, 1980; Townsend, 1994).

With regard to this definition, Madaus et al. highlighted that assessing school effectiveness in this framework was as vast as the objectives and achievements of schools are vast. Moreover, perhaps mainly due to their ease of assessment, it is feasible that schools and school systems have targeted quantitative assessments of student achievement as measures of school effectiveness. The expansive nature of this definition of school effectiveness does potentially provide some insight into why. Student academic outcomes are important but only one area of school effectiveness and also only one aspect of the education process (Goodlad, 1984). Other reasons why affective outcomes are not regularly included in studies of school effectiveness include: lack of clear definitions, problems of measurement, and the diverse range of affective domains - behavioural, social, moral, ethical, aesthetic, and attitude to school (Knuver & Brandsma, 1993).

Clearly though, there is some agreement on the importance of incorporating affective measures in school effectiveness measurement. Research has identified that all sections of school communities (including students, parents, teachers, and principals) reported that the criteria used to identify an effective school should incorporate more than achievement by including measures of self concept, personal development, employment skills, and citizenship (Townsend, 1994). A number of other authors have claimed that if scho ol effectiveness is determined primarily on the basis of test scores, then this determination is narrow and impoverished (Creemers, 1994; Freiberg, 1999; Goodlad, 1984; Reynolds et al., 1994; Rose, 1995; Slee & Weiner, 1998; Stoll & Reynolds, 1997) as social, moral, and aesthetic dimensions of teaching and learning are completely ignored. Slee and Weiner (1988) argued that such narrow definitions and reductionism resonated with the neo-conservative discourse of "performativity", efficiency, and the highly contested notion of academic standards (1998, p.2.). Creemers (1994) suggested that such a unidimensional approach to school effectiveness is structurally and conceptually flawed. Moreover, Freiberg (1999) argued that affective outcomes are not only important in their own right but also because they have an impact on cognitive outcomes.

The development of an all-encompassing model of school effectiveness, that includes affective measures such as student quality of life, has also been strongly supported by some authors. As early as 1988, Wirth argued that the increasing focus on measurable academic student outcomes and ignorance of other aspects of student development was an extremely negative change in schools that stifled the creativity of both teachers and students. Whilst other work environments had increasingly adopted democratic alternatives to traditional management practices, Wirth argued that education in contrast had become less democratic and more technically driven. This overemphasis on testing and examination was described as destructive to true learning and, for teachers, these working relations and institutional structures were likely to result in stress, dissatisfaction, isolation, and reduced self-efficacy (Wirth, 1988). Significantly, it would appear that affective aspects of schooling might have more impact on long term quality of life and later life outcomes than academic aspects. Samson, Graue, Weinstein, and Walberg (1984) identified that only a small percentage (less than 3 per cent) of adult occupational performance was explained by school achievement, hence it may be important that a broad range of personal and social criteria are incorporated into determining school effectiveness.

The importance of process variables within the education context, such as the nature of the classroom and school environment, the standard of facilities and how these facilities and amenities are managed, and how individuals interact with this environment, is also evident in the literature (Madaus et al., 1980). The work of Madaus et al. is of particular import as it suggests that, as early as 1980, the need for schools to review their model of operation in light of the increasing social demands was advocated. This recommendation also provides an interesting point of reflection with regard to the degree that schools have changed their practices over the last two decades. An increased understanding of the nature of school and classroom environments was described as a key feature of research efforts to address improved school effectiveness, as was assessing student satisfaction and interest along with achievement, and teacher moral, expectations, and attitudes. Madaus et al. and other authors highlighted that changing school practice, along with determining the impact of schools on societal issues, would be a slow process (Goodlad, 1984; Madaus et al., 1980). It is uncertain whether their expectations extended to the 21st Century.

The context specific nature of school effectiveness is also evident in the literature. Hence, a primary outcome of school effectiveness research should be the identification of attributes of effective schools. Such a process needs to be multidimensional and conducted across a broad range of components including: both cognitive and affective student outcomes and progress in all areas across a number of years; quality; equity; educational standards; and, student background variables, such as socioeconomic status (Creemers, 1994; Stoll & Reynolds, 1997). Importantly best practice school effectiveness should not be mandated, but driven by individual school need (Stoll & Reynolds, 1997), incorporate satisfaction measures for all stakeholders, and establish school effects for individuals at the classroom level (Cheng, 1996). Evidence suggests that all schools are not equally effective in meeting these targets, hence it would appear appropriate to consider, identify, and define the attributes of effective schools.

As described above, an underlying theme of the present paper is that a reassessment of teaching and learning practices may be required to meet student and societal need in the 21st Century. If society requires individuals who can work cooperatively and be active members of this society, new methods of instruction and learning are required as well as new skills, especially social and communication skills. These developments may not emanate from schools traditionally regarded as effective (Reynolds & Packer, 1992).

The identification of classroom and school practices that are effective in developing new social skills is an important part of this process. The nature of this process relates to identifying differences between apparently similar schools, methods by which schools can improve their organisation to maximise student outcomes, and relationships between school outcomes (educational, behavioural, and social attainment) and school processes (physical and organisational). The need for school effectiveness to be considered from the student perspective rather than a systemic or school perspective has also been advocated (Cooper, 1993). Through this perspective, Cooper suggested, an understanding of the impact of the school environment on students could be determined.

Along with definitions of school effectiveness, definitions and descriptions of effective schools have also been generated. Whilst some authors have argued there is no clear definition of effective schools (see for example, Madaus et al., 1980), others have defined an effective school as one where student progress is greater than what would be expected in light of intake variables (Mortimore, 1991). Mortimore suggested that domains for measuring student progress included academics, behaviour, attendance, attitudes towards school, and self image, along with consideration of the nature of the learning environment and school processes.

Significantly, research has attempted both to identify and evaluate the appropriateness of measures used to assess school effectiveness. Some of this research has indicated that the criteria most often used to assess school effectiveness (such as strong leadership, emphasis on developing student basic skills, high expectations for students, a safe and orderly climate, and frequent monitoring of student progress) may not constitute a completely comprehensive model of effective schools due to the particular focus on academics at the expense of outcomes in the affective domain (Creemers, 1994; Holdaway & Johnson, 1993; Reynolds et al., 1994).

Other research suggests that schools need to select from an extensive list of variables to elicit sophisticated evaluations of their effectiveness as a school (Holdaway & Johnson, 1993). Quality educational programs and curriculum (Bentley, 2000), positive ethos and climate (Mortimore, 1991), effective leadership, communication, and decision making (Stoll & Reynolds, 1997), high quality teaching staff (Maglen, 1997), access to support services (McGaw, Banks, & Piper, 1991), satisfied students (Whitman, Spendlove, & Clark, 1984), and, low student absenteeism (Scheerens & Bosker, 1997) are examples of other variables that have been identified as attributes of effective schools.

In his synthesis of school effectiveness literature in Australia and abroad, Mulford (1985) highlighted that a focus on students and avoidance of bureaucratic structures was significant as bureaucratic structures pervaded less effective schools and often led to increased student anxiety and dissatisfaction. Significantly, school effectiveness research in Australia had appro priately, Mulford suggested, tended to place greater emphasis on the total development of students rather than basic academic skills, in comparison to research undertaken elsewhere. However, Australian effectiveness literature since Mulford's review appears to have embraced the worldwide trends. Globally it is clear that there is much less research regarding the impact of schools and classrooms on aspects of student schooling such as attendance, attitudes to school, behaviour, and self efficacy than achievement and academics (Knuver & Brandsma, 1993; Mortimore, Sammons, Stoll, Lewis & Ecob, 1988).

Another interesting perspective on the development of school effectiveness research was provided by Creemers (1994) who highlighted that, at that point in time, research reviews of school effectiveness literature outnumbered actual empirical investigations. Moreover, many of the empirical investigations lacked appropriate conceptual and technical frameworks. A conceptual framework incorporating school and instructional effectiveness may provide a context in which school effectiveness research can drive school improvement.

Other researchers have highlighted some of the inherent difficulties and potential future directions of school effectiveness. Already, as described above, it has been identified that schools traditionally regarded as effective may not necessarily be effective across the full range of student outcomes (Mortimore, 1991; Reynolds & Packer, 1992) nor for the full student cohort. School is not equally effective for students from all socioeconomic backgrounds (Mortimore et al., 1988), and is generally more effective for students of higher ability level (Aitken & Longford, 1986). Significantly, schools that are ineffective for one group of students are generally less effective for all students (Cooper, 1993). Yet importantly, even student socioeconomic disadvantage can be overcome by effective schools and effective schooling (Rutter, 1979).

Accordingly, affective school outcomes such as achievement orientation, structural and cultural conditions, and opportunity to learn have been advocated as concerns to be investigated at the school and class level (Reynolds et al., 1994). The important role teachers play in determining educational effectiveness and student success at school has also been highlighted (Darling-Hammond, 2000; Hill & Rowe, 1996), as has the need to focus on school transitions (for example, primary school to secondary school) as part of the consideration of the effectiveness of an institution (McGaw, 1997; Reynolds & Packer, 1992). Significantly, individual school effectiveness performance can vary as frequently as yearly (Reynolds & Packer, 1992), hence, longer cycles of school effectiveness assessment should perhaps be rejected in favour of more frequent, or ongoing, review similar to that undertaken in many companies and businesses.

Claims for the relevance of business effectiveness criteria for schools are also evident in the literature. It is suggested, for example, that being responsive to customer need, increasing productivity through equitable treatment of all workers, implementing an effective management structure, focusing on quality and reliability, and allowing freedom for innovative practice by workers within the work context, as appropriate business effectiveness criteria for educational institutions (Peters & Walterman, 1984). Importantly, effective organisations were described as being driven by values that were understood by all workers. School communities have a diverse membership including students, parents, teachers, and administrators. The importance of a shared understanding of values would appear to be a key feature of effective schools.

Significantly some research has identified shared values and other conditions that can enhance the effectiveness of schools. Effectiveness enhancing conditions identified by Scheerens and Bosker (1997), for example, were: priorities assigned to factors and components - beliefs, attitudes, goal statements; the factual state of affairs relevant to factors and components; appraisal of and judgement on the degree to which factors and components are realised; and, a problem solving approach - willingness to experiment/look for solutions. Happily, these four conditions strongly parallel Peters and Walterman's conditions for effective business presented earlier in this section. Further, a problem solving approach, willingness to experiment, and solution focus appear to be needed more than ever in schools and in the broader context of educational reform in the new millennium. The associated refinements to methods of school effectiveness analysis and assessment, described below, provide a structure in which educators can pursue the goal of more effective schools.

An emergent feature of school effectiveness research is the expansion and refinement of assessment methodology. The concept of value adding with regard to student enrolment characteristics is increasingly evident in the literature as a method of measuring school effectiveness, as are more refined qualitative and quantitative research methods, longitudinal studies, and multilevel modelling incorporating causal modelling and going beyond simple correlation. The emergence of multilevel modelling in particular and more recent refinements of the multilevel modelling process has had important ramifications for school effectiveness research. A multilevel design that explicitly incorporates the hierarchical organisation of schools, some authors have argued, is required to fully understand education phenomena (Hill & Rowe, 1996; Stoll & Reynolds, 1997) and has progressed research on school and classroom effects (Hill & Rowe, 1996; Reynolds, 1992). Creemers (1994) suggested that multilevel modelling facilitated the pursuit of the goals of educational effectiveness research to identify variables, characteristics, and factors that could be incorporated into education practice or educational policy to improve schools.

Multilevel modelling has shown school and class differences to be greater than those estimated under previous methodologies (Hill & Rowe, 1996; McGaw, 1997). Hill and Rowe also noted that, in general, research designs incorporating multilevel modelling have shown class effects to be greater than school effects, supporting class effects research reported earlier (see for example, Creemers & Reezigt, 1999; McGaw, 1997; Stoll & Reynolds, 1997). However, despite the increasing evidence of the importance of class effects on student life at school, there has only been sporadic adoption of multilevel modelling.

Multilevel models with a multifactor design have been advocated in the literature as this type of model provides better conceptual modelling of school effectiveness and better procedures for statistical analysis (Creemers, 1994). With regard to the purposes of this paper, significant examples of school effectiveness research carried out in Australia using multilevel modelling techniques include those carried out by Hill and Rowe (1996), Hill, Rowe, and Holmes-Smith (1995), and Rowe and Hill (1996), who identified substantial class, and to lesser extent school effects, with regard to student learning progress, student perceptions of school, and behaviour. Internationally, Knuver and Brandsma (1993) identified at the student level a link between attitude to school and self concept, while at the school and class levels going beyond teaching basic skills and incorporating teaching and learning related to social, moral, and professional skills allowed schools and classes to be effective both cognitively and affectively.

School improvement

Whilst often used synonymously, some researchers have argued that differences exist between conceptualisation of school effectiveness and school improvement. An apparent disparity between the reliance on a limited range of mostly academic quantifiable outcomes and easily obtainable measures in school effectiveness research, and the focus on a more diverse range of outcomes including attitudinal measures and change over time within the sch ool improvement paradigm has been identified (Morley & Rassool, 1999; Reynolds, 1992, Stoll & Reynolds, 1997). However, the school effectiveness examples of research presented above indicate that the distinction between school effectiveness and school improvement research, at least in some cases, is not as clear as some have suggested.

What is clear is that school improvement literature emphasises the importance of improving the practice of the whole school and overall process rather the practice of individuals and/or individual process (Cooper, 1993; Rutter, Maughan, Mortimore, & Ouston, 1979; Scheerens, & Bosker, 1997) and the need to take into account instructional identity or ethos when attempting to improve schooling practices (Cooper, 1993; Davis & Thomas, 1989; Rutter et al., 1979; Scheerens, & Bosker, 1997). The key outcome of this process, it has been argued, should be a balance between strengthening patterns of accountability and the development of a framework to enact the improvement process (Gray, Jesson, & Sime, 1991).

However, it would appear that school improvement also needs to focus on the culture of schools, including values, interpersonal relationships, and interaction processes, as well as structure. Reynolds and Packer (1992), for example, suggested that school improvement literature, to that point in time, was at the very least deficient, if not negligent, in failing to acknowledge the psychological dimensions of within-school life (p.182). The authors identified that many ineffective schools exhibit disturbed interpersonal relationships and have an abnormal staff culture. An approach where these schools focused on incorporative culture and interpersonal processes to ensure attitudinal and structural changes in the areas of values and relationships was advocated.

  • An ongoing effort to improve student learning outcomes, including incorporating the concept of success for all into school ethos;
  • Ongoing monitoring and evaluation, and classroom research;
  • Ensuring effective school climate, and improving the physical environment;
  • Emphasising interpersonal and psychological processes, and valuing individuals;
  • Articulating school vision, shared values, joint planning, and partnership;
  • Adapting management and leadership structures; and,
  • Encouraging creativity.

Figure 1: School improvement strategies

Many strategies for school improvement can be found in the literature, and seven of these adapted from the work of Stoll and Reynolds (1997) are presented in Figure 1. These strategies have been selected due both to their alignment with affective outcomes and ease of assessment using affective outcome measures or indicators. Challenges to school improvement were highlighted as including staff turnover, lack of commitment, staff politics, decentralisation, inability to link outcomes with improvement, and lack of clarity regarding process and product. Indicators, identified in the literature, for school improvement include student attendance, student participation, and quality support for students (Davis & Thomas, 1989), staff effectiveness, stress reduction, work climate, and classroom atmosphere (Scheerens & Bosker, 1997).

Quality education, quality schools, and quality of life

The divergence that surrounds the conceptualisations of school effectiveness and school improvement appears also to exist with regard to the conceptualisation of a term often used synonymously, quality in education. Chapman and Aspin (1997), however, highlighted that the key questions regarding quality schooling were related to values systems, codes of ethics, and standards of conduct that were appropriate for students in schools and also in the broader community, and translating these into policy and practice. One primary consideration of this paper is an attempt to provide some recommendations on what is encompassed in quality education and a quality school. Such debate has been ongoing in educational research for an extended period of time. Scott and Dinham (2001) recently suggested that a societal lack of consensus regarding the purpose of education has existed for some decades.

Education policy in New South Wales, for example, has very much reflected this debate over the last thirty years with the publication by the New South Wales Department of Education and Training (NSWDET) of numerous policy and policy related documents such as the Aims of Primary Education (1977), Corporate Purpose and Goals (1987), The Primary Purpose (1987), Carrick Report (Carrick, 1989), Excellence and Equity (1989), The Values We Teach (1991), and, the School Development Policy Document (1999). In general, these documents have advocated the importance of quality, methods of improving quality, and articulated a vision for quality education focused on development of the civic, social, personal, and educational values suggested to be held by the majority of society. Certainly in New South Wales, key current issues are quality assurance, auditing, and annual reporting at a school level (Ramsey, 2000).

In the 21st Century, schools and educators need to consider how best to adapt to the changing societal contexts. Some authors have advocated an approach in which schools were conceptualised as ecosystems incorporating culture, learning theory, leadership, evaluation, and partnerships (Stoll & Reynolds, 1997). Others have presented models of quality schooling that encompass the notion of education as a public good. Chapman and Aspin (1997), for example, described the role of education and educators as the appropriate provision of service to all students, including those from socioeconomically disadvantaged backgrounds, racial minorities, those with special needs, difficulties, and/or lacking the ability to contribute to the process presently or in the future, so that they are able to pursue their preferred life options, be autonomous but also be cooperating and contributing members of society (p.69).

Some movement towards such an approach by educational authorities can be discerned. In New South Wales, the NSWDET Strategic Directions 2002-2004 highlight the re-emergence of qualitative aspects of the curriculum. A commitment to providing students with the knowledge, understanding, skills, and values for productive and rewarding lives; and, the provision of a well-rounded education that values and supports the intellectual, creative, physical, social, and emotional development of each child, has been propounded as a policy (NSWDET, 2002). Importantly this document also indicates that increased levels of student satisfaction, as measured by satisfaction surveys, are to be used as an indicator to assess the success of the implementation of this reform agenda.

Recent research has also highlighted that student perceptions of their quality of school life were increasingly being recognised as important outcomes of schooling and incorporated in school improvement programs (MindMatters Evaluation Consortium, 2000). Significantly, many NSWDET schools are now utilising versions of the Quality of School Life questionnaire (Ainley & Bourke, 1992) at both primary and secondary levels as part of the annual reporting and self evaluation requirements, and receive assistance with data analysis from a specialist research and analysis unit within the NSWDET Student Assessment and School Accountability Directorate.

This paper is founded on the concept that for children the school environment they share with teachers resembles an actual workplace. Exploring the nature of educational environments, and the quality of life dynamics of classrooms and schools in particular, has proven to be an important area of research (see for example, Fraser, 1994; Fraser & Walberg, 1991; Young & Fisher, 1996), while other recent research has begun to address the quality of life dynamics of classrooms and schools (see for example, Hart & Conn, 1992; 1996; Leonard, Bourke, & Schofield, 2000; 2003). T he model of quality of school life used by the latter researchers incorporates a broad spectrum of positive and negative elements of quality of life, including stress and satisfaction. Further, classroom and school environments are a potent influence on students (Fraser & Walberg, 1991, p.x). High quality learning environments have been found to enhance perceived student quality of life, satisfaction, academic achievement, and engagement in learning (Ames, 1992; Bruck, Hallett, Hood, MacDonald & Moore, 2001; Candy, Crebert & O'Leary, 1994; Freiberg, 1999; Ramsden, Margetson, Martin & Clarke, 1995). Moreover, the measurement of school climate may be a beacon of educational reform as school environments affect students and hence schools have a duty to provide a quality learning environment (Freiberg, 1999). Clearly schools and classrooms need to be places that enhance learning as school is the primary vehicle for student transition to adulthood.

Research suggests that schools can pursue quality through concern about equity and redefining traditional roles. Devolving responsibility to schools, increasing school leaders' engagement with their community, encouraging innovative practice, creating networks, and promoting teacher leadership and development have been highlighted as key strategies (McGaw, 1997; Stoll & Reynolds, 1997). The role of schools in fostering national identity was also advocated with regard to the need for schools to forge commonality and community in multicultural settings. Significantly, any improvements in quality may need to be evaluated in terms of the distribution of benefits fairly to all (McGaw, 1997, p.15).

The identification of the features of quality schools emerges from the research literature. Quality schools develop student potential, self worth, competencies, and attitudes (Townsend, 1994), promote quality teaching (Hofman, Hofman, & Guldemond, 1999), have a democratic and equitable school ethos and organisation (Chapman & Aspin, 1997), demonstrate collaboration, professionalism, and effective leadership (Ayres, Dinham, & Sawyer, 2000), develop quality relationships and communication (Rutter et al., 1979), have high attendance and participation rates (MCEETYA, 1997), value and assess quality both implicitly and explicitly at the class and school level (Morley & Rassool, 1999), ensure high student quality of school life (Scheerens & Bosker, 1997), and meet community needs (Cheng, 1996).

Importantly schools exhibiting these features manifest the capacity to incorporate a concern for student quality of school life into their measures of school effectiveness and improvement frameworks. Almost twenty years ago, Goodlad (1984) highlighted that measures of school quality almost exclusively utilised academic data, yet the examples of research presented above demonstrate the scope that is available to schools with regard to expanding their definition, focus, and measurement of quality to incorporate the affective domains of school life. Chapman and Aspin (1997), for example, advocated the development of student self worth, confidence, interpersonal relationships, and social and political morals, as examples of students being given opportunities to practise and develop the full range of skills, competencies, and attitudes appropriate for the future. Quality schools were described as democratic, equitable, and just. Quality schools also promoted and valued excellence, and pursued high standards of individual and institutional aspiration. Individuals in such environments, the authors suggested, were autonomous but also enmeshed in the school and broader community promoting the enjoyment of the education endeavour, and patterns and networks of mutual interrelation.

Moreover new models of school effectiveness and quality schooling have been utilised to highlight the links between classroom practices, schools, districts, and the broader community. Stringfield (1994), for example, suggested that when this multilevel support system operated effectively, the inherent structures and procedures created a high degree of organisational reliability and allowed schools to become "centres of academic synergy" (p.180). Such schools were described as possessing: a shared vision and excitement regarding education; the capacity to make decisions based on professional judgment; the capacity to thrive on shared challenges; a willingness to experiment with new programs; and, an integrated instructional package.

In terms of the literature presented above, Freiberg and Stein (1999) provide an apt synthesis. Schools that demonstrate quality and enhance quality of life were described as healthy learning places that nurture the dreams and aspirations of parents, stimulate teacher creativity and enthusiasm, and elevate all of their members to love their school and want to be there each day. Such schools promote self worth, dignity, and a sense of belonging that can also foster resilience (p.11). Moreover, Forman and O'Malley (1984) proposed that schools that did not focus on enhancing quality and quality of life were stressful environments for teachers and students because of the nature of the performance and relationship demands made on individuals in this context.

In summary, research on quality in schools indicates that quality schools focus simultaneously on the total development of students and the development of a quality learning environment. Perhaps the most positive aspect of this expanded approach is that some studies indicate that major school improvement can be demonstrated within two to three years (Reynolds et al., 1994). What is also evident from the examples of research presented in this section, beyond the obvious links with the attributes of effective schools presented above, is that schools committed to improvement and effectiveness enhancement incorporating affective domains for students have an extraordinarily rich pool of data on which to report with regard to the productivity, efficacy, and the quality of the workplace for students and teachers.

Linking school effectiveness, school improvement and school quality

Strong advocacy can also be found in the literature for the links between school effectiveness and school improvement. Some authors have even advocated a merger of the research paradigms and knowledge to provide a framework of planned change and development through which individuals could be empowered and supported towards increased school effectiveness (Cheng, 1996; Stoll & Reynolds, 1997). Positive benefits of such a merger included a focus on teaching and learning at the classroom level, use of data for decision making, a focus on more general student outcomes, improved capacity to address the internal conditions of the school, and enhanced consistency.

It has been argued that setting targets for achieving educational effectiveness and school improvement has become a global phenomenon. The policy discourses that support this movement are sophisticated political policy strategies incorporating managerial approaches to social inclusion and social welfare (David, 2001, p.99). This approach appears to be appropriate, because without due concern to the global context of social change and education, the strategies that aim to improve schooling and school achievement may reinforce inequalities such as social class, gender, ethnicity, and race.

In general it would appear that the rapid pace of societal change has not been matched by change in educational environments, especially with regard to clarifying the goals or outcomes of schooling. Moreover, it would appear that many educators and some educational authorities demonstrate neither an understanding of the need for nor a capacity to support continuous school improvement. Importantly the focus of this improvement needs to be on effectiveness and quality education rather than the maintenance of present or past practices.

Affective student outcomes in the context of school reform

Historically in Australia strict responsibility for the curriculum has rested with the educational authorities in the states and terri tories. Increasingly however, and not without criticism, flexibility has been provided to schools to design their own learning experiences around mandated outcomes. This, and numerous other, ongoing transformations of education systems, structures, and organisations perhaps highlight a lack of understanding of what constitutes effective and quality education. Recent research suggests that society in general lacks a clear understanding of the purpose of education (Scott & Dinham, 2001). Moreover, a lack of consensus regarding the purpose of education may have resulted in inconsistency in educational standards (Labaree, 2000). Labaree presented two potential purposes of education; the first focused on the betterment of the society by producing competent citizens, and this was contrasted with the second potential purpose that focused on the personal advancement of individuals.

There should be little doubt regarding the purposes of public education in Australia at least. In the national context, the Hobart Declaration On Schooling (Australian Education Council, 1989) highlighted the importance of a value added approach to student development in all areas, mandating a curriculum that was broad in focus and incorporated aspects of social skill, physical, mental, and self esteem development. At the state level, the New South Wales Education Reform Act (New South Wales Parliament, 1990), for example, mandates that the purpose of school is to assist students to reach their full potential. At the heart of both of these documents is the concept that the purpose of public education is to develop the full potential of students thus benefiting individuals, communities, and the nation. Ramsey (2000) perhaps most recently (and succinctly) stated the case that the development of student skills and talents commences in classrooms and intellectual energy underpins a society largely created by schools (p.4).

Others have also managed to articulate a position incorporating both of Labaree's models. The HREOC (2000), for example, highlighted the role of schools with regard to student development as incorporating: the development of personality, mental and physical abilities, and talents; the promotion of values (both national and familial), tolerance, equality, peace, and friendship; and, respect for human rights, fundamental freedoms, cultures, and the environment. Similarly, a recent Director General of Education in New South Wales highlighted the increasingly important role of schools in bridging cultures and religions (Boston, 2001). Boston described this process as teaching students common principles, values, norms of justice, and reasonable behaviours (p.2). Further a robust and common civic ethos, agreed values and standards of justice were described as foundations of the future of Australia.

It is also possible to differentiate the function of schooling at individual, institutional, communal, societal, and international levels (Cheng, 1996), and to propose some of the conceivable benefits of schools more appropriately incorporating affective outcomes into the curriculum, within each of these domains. At the international level global understandings, common interests, the appreciation of diversity, and education for the whole world would be fostered. At the communal level school would serve as a cultural unit carrying the explicit norms and expectations of the community. At the societal level, social and cultural integration, equality, and democratic structures would be promoted. At an institutional level schools would be a centre of excellence in teaching and learning promoting the total development of the next generation. And at an individual level students would be provided with the knowledge, skills, and understandings to develop themselves intellectually, aesthetically, physically, and socially.

School reform in the context of societal change

As is evidenced from the statements on the purposes of schooling presented above, a more holistic education is a requirement of modern society. This purpose in no way devalues the importance of an academically focused curriculum, but, is an acknowledgment that the main outcomes of schooling are not only cognitive, but also affective. It has been argued that social competence, knowledge of society, confidence, and assertiveness are basic skills of schooling and vital skills for preparing students to produce the goods and services required by society and for effective living (Goodlad, 1984, p.143) and to be active citizens in democratic societies and not just good learners (Samdal, Wold & Bronis, 1999; Stoll & Reynolds, 1997).

With respect to the significant impact of economic rationalism on education, it may be that economic rationalism has brought with it a recovery in confidence regarding the impact of school, but loss of confidence in the impact of resources (McGaw, 1997). An associated concern relates to enhancing student outcomes, particularly literacy and numeracy, but a loss of commitment to education for the common good. Increasing economic rationalism in society may be evident in schools with little value placed on whether students are happy or enjoying school. Curricula related to personal, social, and health education have become devalued, as they are not measurable quantities in the view of education authorities (Morley & Rassool, 1999, p.1).

Some researchers have noted that it is schools and school teachers who are increasingly required to deal with the human consequences of economic restructuring (Bourdieu, 1998; Dinham, 2000; McGaw, 1997; Morley & Rassool, 1999; Scott, Stone, & Dinham, 2001; Southwell, 2000). Appropriately, Scott et al. suggested that, in light of reducing teacher satisfaction and community respect for the profession, teaching cannot be quarantined from the social context (p.13). Importantly, teachers have a particularly influential role with regard to transmitting societal values and culture to students and also promoting personal and social development (Harris, 1982). Moreover, the nature of teacher work in a dynamic environment, that is greater than the classroom and the school and incorporates the education system and society, is gaining increasing recognition (Cooney, 2000).

What the current authors would argue is that a recontextualisation is required of the role of teachers and the role of education at a systemic level, to again refocus on development of the whole student. Importantly Stoll and Reynolds (1997) suggested it was incorrect to imply that teachers had not adapted to the changing needs of students. Examples were provided of such changes including curriculum adaptation, diversified teaching strategies, and social skilling of students. It may well be that the treatment of teachers as semi-skilled workers who respond to mandated change has, in fact, reduced teacher satisfaction and societal perceptions of their effectiveness.

Interestingly some researchers have asserted that schools and teachers need to be freed from responsibility for academic and social areas in which they lack expertise (Dinham & Scott, 1998, p.2). More recently, Dinham and Scott (2000) went further arguing that during this uncertain age the demands placed on schools to remedy the social and economic ills of society were unreasonable (p.189). A dual focus on increasing teacher expertise and skills through the provision of enhanced training and development, along with educators maintaining their responsibilities regarding the development of student skills that society increasingly values and many occupations require, may be appropriate. The continued strengthening of both the global economy and global community only serve to support this thesis.

Education incorporating appropriate curricula in the areas of personal development, values education, interpersonal relationship skills, environmental, and peace studies has been described as the key to ensuring the development of globalisation and internationalisation (Southwell, 2000, p.131). A potential method by which this vision of education can be pursued is presented below.

Summary: Education incorpo rating affective outcomes

The developmental dimension of the present paper has attempted to identify and investigate strategies that schools can use to assist students in developing the skills required in the 21st Century. As identified from the literature presented above, students need skills in personal management and pro-social skills, abstraction, systems thinking, and experimentation to function effectively in their present and future environments. Within this context, more studies on school effectiveness may be required (Reynolds, 1992), particularly with regard to fostering the social and personal development of students.

Within the theoretical dimension, research was presented that suggested the core business of schools should be the provision of an environment structured to ensure positive student qualities and potentials are promoted across a broad range of outcomes. Significantly, it was identified that to meet the diverse nature of challenges that confront schools in the 21st Century they needed to be flexible, creative, and responsive. Moreover, schools and particularly teachers need to focus on cooperation and consultation rather than control and survival, to promote an active dialogue between teachers and students. Through this structure students can be supported in becoming valuable members of society. Based on the foregoing, we suggest that high quality schools, curriculum, and life at school are fundamental rights of all students. More specifically we suggest that information about student quality of school life is an essential indicator of school effectiveness and a key component of school improvement and quality assurance.

Finally, the philosophical dimension mandated that, beyond implementation of the appropriate reform agendas and the development of measures of school effectiveness incorporating cognitive and affective student outcomes, ensuring quality schooling is more likely to be accomplished by an inclusivist culture. It is a spirit, an ethos, that values students and the importance of preparing students - all students, to value themselves and to be valuable members of society in the new millennium.


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Authors: Carl Leonard is Assistant Principal at Wirreanda Public in Medowie, New South Wales. His research interests include school effectiveness and improvement, educational quality, affective outcomes of schooling, and inclusive education. In 2002 he completed a PhD entitled Quality of Life and Attendance in Primary Schools at the University of Newcastle. Email: carl.leonard@newcastle.edu.au

Sid Bourke is a Professor in Education in the Faculty of Education and Arts at the University of Newcastle. His research interests are in the area of assessment generally, and currently focus specifically on student perceptions of their quality of school life and the examination of doctoral theses across disciplines. Email: sid.bourke@newcastle.edu.au

Dr Neville Schofield is a Senior Lecturer in the Faculty of Education and Arts at the University of Newcastle. His research interests include gifted children, the teaching of morals and values, online learning and the affective dimensions of schooling. Email: Neville.Schofield@newcastle.edu.au

Please cite as: Leonard, C., Bourke, S. & Schofield, N. (2004). Affecting the affective: Affective outcomes in the context of school effectiveness, school improvement and quality schools. Issues In Educational Research, 14(1), 1-28. http://www.iier.org.au/iier14/leonard.html

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