Date of Award

8-1980

Degree Name

Doctor of Education

Department

Educational Leadership, Research and Technology

First Advisor

Dr. Mary Anne Bunda

Second Advisor

Dr. Ken Dickie

Third Advisor

Dr. Hardy Carroll

Abstract

This study investigated selected effects of diffusing an educational innovation via one of two diffusion channels, either print or dyadic exchange, to one of two organizational positions of the receivers of diffusion information, either the building principal or the building media professional. The selected effects included a cognitive effect and a behavioral effect. The cognitive effect consisted of receivers' understanding of the innovation and the principles of its effective utilization. This understanding of the innovation was measured with a 10-item instrument developed for this study. The behavioral effect consisted of an actual utilization of the innovation by individuals in the receiving social system.

The theoretical context of this study was examined through the use of such theoretical perspectives as the research, development and diffusion perspective and the social-interaction perspective. The capacity for interactive communication is identified by the literature as a potentially critical channel attribute. The two organizational positions which are identified in the literature as potentially optimally effective receivers of diffusion information are the building principal and the building media professional. The position of building principal is a potentially effective receiver of diffusion information because of the perception by members of the organization that this position is the locus of legitimate power and authority. The building media professional is also a potentially effective receiver of such information because of the perception by members of the organization that this position is the locus of expert power and authority.

Forty schools in Michigan's Region 12 were randomly assigned to one of four treatment groups, with school district size as a blocking variable. While each school received the same diffusion information, diffusion channels and receivers of diffusion information varied. Treatment groups were established by fully crossing the two levels of the channel independent variable with the two levels of the position variable.

Differences between groups were tested for statistical significance using a two-way analysis of variance. A substantial, though not significant, difference was found between diffusion channels upon receivers' understanding of an innovation. An interaction effect between the independent variables on utilization of the innovation was found to be significant at the .10 level. All other tests showed no statistical difference.

The results of the study indicate generally low receiver understanding of the principles of effective utilization of the innovation being diffused and generally low utilization by practitioners. Questions for further study include the following: (1) Are multiple, rather than single, diffusion contacts essential to the diffusion of a complex educational innovation? (2) Is the directional flow of the diffusion process a critical variable?

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access

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