Four Dimensions of Policy Theory Thesis

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¶ … Dimensions of Policy Theory

The objective of this study is to assess the ways in which the four dimensions of policy theory can be applied to policy evaluation. As well this work will answer the question of how policy evaluations improves educational effectiveness, including curriculum, instruction, and assessment.

Educational policy comprehension makes a requirement of consideration of the impact and intention of policies from the view of the four dimensions of policy theory. The four dimensions of policy theory include those of the: (1) normative; (2) structural; (3) constituentive; and (4) technical policy theories. (Devine, 2009) the work of Cooper, Fusarelli and Randall (2004) relates that policy evaluation is specifically important in today's era of educational accountability and especially when considering policy formation and implementation. (in Devine, 2009, paraphrased) Cooper Fusarelli and Randall (2004) further hold that policies are "conducive for improving education for all students." (in Devine, 2009)

I. Four Dimensions of Policy Theory

As already stated policy theories along the four dimensions are assembled as structural, constituentive and technical and this framework is stated by Devine (2009) to enable the understanding of policymaking in education and to do so "through various perspectives." (Devine, 2009) According to Devine, the normative dimension is comprised by the "values, standards, and philosophies" that drive the society in undertaking change and improvement. Therefore, it can be understood that policies are then a "reflection of society." (2009)Get full Download Microsoft Word File access
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Thesis on Four Dimensions of Policy Theory Assignment

The structural dimension is that which includes measures of the government and the structure of the organization as well as the organizational methods and procedures that mandate and advocate policy in education. The constituentive dimension is comprised by the assumptions of 'individuals, interest groups and recipients who exert power over, are a party to, and profit from the policymaking process." (Devine, 2009) the structural dimension includes government officials, parents, teachers, administrators and business leaders. The technical dimension is stated to include the "development, practice implementation and assessment of educational policy making." (Devine, 2009) Comprehension of educational policymaking requires that policymakers give consideration to the "influence and consequences of educational policy along these dimensions." (Cooper, Fusarelli and Randall, 2004 in: Devine, 2009)

II. Normative Dimension

The application of the normative dimension to educational policy evaluation assesses from the view of whether the outcome supports the principles of the educator and researchers and if so the policy can be acknowledged as having value and the policy may then be continued and expanded. However, in the event that the policy does not support the principles of the educators and researchers the data of the policy outcome is questioned, the process criticized and the outcomes discarded. Policy evaluation serves to maintain a "substantial normative component as researchers establish values, how those values may influence the resources to use, adequate standards, and clarifications of the outcome." (Devine, )

If significance in the evaluation is exists then a fundamental disagreement in the normative dimension is likely. The positivist and post-modern view creates a separation as the post-positivists do not adhere to the scientific views formed in scientific examinations conducted by the positivists who are inductive and deductive in nature and through methods of observation of educational policy evaluation. The inductive method is dependent on inference of assumptions from data and the deductive method of observation requires that researcher form, validate, test and often reject a hypotheses. (Cooper, Fusarelli and Randall, 2004, paraphrased) the view of the positivists is rejected and disputed by postmodernists in policy evaluation of education. Therefore, it can be understood that "evaluating policies as to their form and consequence is normative and as individuals shape and modify polices, they assume qualities with meaning." (Cooper, Fusarelli and Randall, 2004 in: Devine, 2009)

III. Structural Dimension

The structural dimension is inclusive of "governmental arrangements, institutional structure, systems, and processes the promulgate and support policies in education." (Cooper et al., 2004 in: Luxemburg and Irby, 2006) the structural dimension is reflective of the "motivation, needs, and objectives expressed by political ideas and ideologies." (Luxemburg and Irby, 2006) the school principal can work toward providing a definition of and promotion of the ideas influence structures, the community and groups may then provide a response to or encourage these ideas and then "confirm or reject structures through their participation -- especially, but hardly exclusively, in the context of political democracy." (Luxemburg and Irby, 2006)

Educational policy is influenced and impacted by the roles and effects of governmental structures including those which are local, state and federal. Devine (2007) states that policy evaluation in education is indicative of the "organization of education at the federal, state, and local levels...[and] the frustration of educators with the interference at the federal level might distort the assessment of federal programs and their values to educational institutions" and cited in the work of Cooper, Fusarelli and Randall (2004). The policies that are generated by the macrosystem which are on the outside of the educational institutions often results in evaluations being vague and not conducted in a timely manner. The result is that state legislatures many times endorse a policy and then implement it in the schools without evaluating the policy until many years later and by those who have no idea of the original objective of the policy that is legislated. The policy is constructed at the macro level and then applied at micro levels however there is a failure to note who will conduct policy evaluation prior to policy implementation. Policy cannot be valuable or effective unless the objectives are clear and are well written.

IV. Constituentive Dimension

The constituentive dimension involves persuasive interest groups who focus on specific programs which results in employment and resources may be in jeopardy with policy evaluation. Difficulty is known to occur when there is not sufficient knowledge of the policy or of the "...questions, methods, or the response to the outcomes of the evaluation." (Cooper, Fusarelli, & Randall, 2004 in Devine, 2007).The constituentive dimension includes: "...theories of networks, elites, masses, interest groups, ethnic/gender groups, providers and end users, and beneficiaries who influence, participate in, and benefit from the policymaking process." (Luxemburg and Irby, 2006)

According to Cooper et al. (2004) Issues that require addressing in this dimension of policymaking include who will have access to power, how the needs of these interest groups are made known, and the "degree to which competing interests can work out a compromise solution or have their needs met." (in: Luxemburg and Irby, 2006) in this dimension, the constituent groups are stated to either "favor or oppose the policies developed." (Luxemburg and Irby, 2006) Devine (2007) states that constituents are known to frequently have a role in the legislation of educational policies as well as in their implementation and assessment to determine policy value and effectiveness. If the policy is in the interest of the constituents are likely to try to manage the process of evaluation or even conduct their own evaluation however, in the case where the policy is not in the constituent's interests they are likely to dispute the policy through the findings of assessments that are adverse on the policy. The result is that "...constituents do not overlook the evaluation of educational policies but compel the evaluation and adequacy of the policy. When constituents agree on a policy support is present, but when constituents disagree with the policy, or see the policy as a threat, then constituents obstruct or complicate policy data and challenge efforts for implementation." (Cooper, Fusarelli, & Randall, 2004 in: Devine, 2007)

V. Technical Dimension

The technical dimension of policy making and policy evaluation requires an "appreciation of the realistic influences of policies aspects of educational institutions including time, educators, resources, and instruction." (Devine, 2007) Cooper, Fusarelli and Randall (2004) hold that this dimension is particularly significant if the comprehension of what will occur with the implementation of the policy is realistic in nature. Policy evaluation in this dimension "may be cross-sectional or maintain a longitudinal technique." (Devine, 2007) the technical dimension is stated to include "educational planning, practice, implementation, and evaluation" referred to as the "nuts and bolts of policymaking." (Luxemburg and Irby, 2006)

Luxemburg and Irby (2006) state that systems theory is "useful to understand developments in this dimension" and specifically in regards to tracing the "technical and instrumental effects of policies." The technical framework is related to the considerations of injustice and equity and according to Cooper et al. (2004) principals "...must consider a policy in regard to its context, impact, and future implications." (Luxemburg and Irby, 2006) According to Luxemburg and Irby (2006) Fullan (2001) stated indications that principals in their evaluation of policies "contribute for the better or worse to moral purpose in the schools, and in society as a whole" since as it was suggested by Fullan that 'moral purpose is about how humans evolve over time, especially regarding how they relate to each other, the evaluation of policy as it affects others is critical for a higher moral purpose."

Policy evaluation, when completed in the short-term the examination is of "formative qualities… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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