Indicators of quality constructivist schooling in Connecticut

Date of Completion

January 2004


Education, Administration|Education, Secondary|Education, Curriculum and Instruction




This study describes quality schooling as defined by constructivist criteria, and it identifies and exemplifies process indicators of quality schooling. The framework for presenting and operationalizing the process indicators is based on Eisner's five dimensions of schooling: intentional, structural, curricular, pedagogical, and evaluative. This study focuses on how students learn and construct meaning through the goals of the school, the organization of the school, its curriculum, its pedagogy, and its program evaluation. ^ Three Blue Ribbon public high schools in Connecticut are studied and from their stories, examples of process indicators of quality schooling are identified. Themes and theme indicators have also emerged from the data. Elite, in-depth interviews, classroom observations, and a review of school documents provide the data, answer the research questions, and convey the essences of the high schools included in this study. The results of this study will inform school improvement initiatives and program evaluations. ^ Some of the more significant findings of this study are the identification of the following process indicators: concerning the intentional dimension—institutional mastery, mental models, and a shared vision; concerning the structural dimension—organizational scheme, ability to build capacity, and use of time; concerning the curricular dimension—curriculum planning, content of the curriculum, opportunities to learn, and curriculum oriented towards the future; concerning the pedagogical dimension—a variety of teaching strategies and settings, accommodation of student learning styles, student engagement, teaching as a naturalistic endeavor, the art of teaching, and teaching as a personal statement; and concerning the evaluative dimension—functions of educational evaluation, content of the evaluations, quality of the evaluation reports, and a shift from evaluation to assessment. ^ Future research may want to examine more fully the relationship among the identified process indicators. Researchers may want to examine the relevancy of these process indicators to other types of high schools, e.g. virtual, alternative, charter, and magnet schools, or to elementary and middle school settings. Still other researchers may want to further explore the relationship between process indicators and student achievement. Finally, another avenue for future research is the impact of school size and school finance on quality schooling. ^