Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Curriculum and Instruction

First Advisor

James E. Sweeney


The purposes of this study are to examine the cultures of 22 small rural elementary and secondary schools in northeast Minnesota to determine the effects of nine months of intervention on the cultures of these schools, and to identify approaches which influence positive change in their culture. Three questions are addressed during this study: (1) To what extent do productive school cultures exist in 22 small rural elementary and secondary schools in northeast Minnesota? (2) To what extent will nine months of intervention influence the productive school cultures of these 22 schools? (3) What approaches are most influential in enhancing the cultures in these 22 schools?;The study is a one-group pretest-posttest design with intervention between the pretest and the posttest. The instrument used in this study is a modification of a cultural audit previously developed and pilot tested. Thirty items related to results-oriented education were added to the survey. Prior to the nine months of intervention, 511 teachers in 22 schools completed a survey to determine the culture of their schools. After completing the survey, the 22 schools participated in a series of activities designed to improve their schools by strengthening values and norms in five school culture elements (enabling, group support, motivation, achievement, and results-orientation). The schools were provided an opportunity to select the activities in which they would participate. The activities represented five approaches: (1) developing a knowledge base of research, (2) developing principal leadership, (3) developing a district-wide plan, (4) establishing a "keeper of the vision", and (5) implementing systematic student management. After nine months of intervention teachers in the 22 schools completed a survey identical to the. pre-intervention survey;The findings of the study reveal that values both prior to and after intervention were positive and changed little. Norms prior to intervention were not nearly as strong as values, particularly at the secondary level. Considerable gaps between values and norms existed in both elementary and secondary schools prior to intervention. Achievement norms strengthened significantly across all 22 schools primarily due to significant strengthening at the secondary level. Four of five norms elements at the secondary level strengthened significantly following intervention. " Improving schools" began the intervention with generally weaker norms than did "stuck schools". Improving schools generally used multiple approaches to improving their cultures, which may have influenced the strengthening in norms.



Digital Repository @ Iowa State University,

Copyright Owner

John D. Wessels



Proquest ID


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File Size

138 pages