The Impact of Organizational Structures on Classroom

Until we begin, please help yourself to
The Impact of
Organizational Structures
on Classroom Learning
by Summer Northern
Lindsey Jeo
Steven Aldaz
Alena Ababon
Seminar Time Schedule
3:30-3:40: Welcome and Refreshments (10 min)
3:40-3:45: Self-Contained (5 min)
3:45-3:50: Departmentalization (5 min)
3:50-4:00 Small group discussion (15 min)
4:00-4:05: Looping (5 min)
4:05-4:10: Multi-Age (5 min)
4:10-4:20: Small group discussion (10 min)
4:20-4:40: Large group discussion (15 min)
4:40-4:50: Evaluation (10 min)
Goals of the Seminar
★ Participants will be able to recommend a
“research based” organizational
structure for a particular grade level.
★ Participants will be able to justify their
recommendation with key research.
★ Participants will contribute meaningfully
to the seminar.
Overarching Seminar
Is there one organizational structure
that best promotes student learning?
Population distributions? Is it possible for different
organizational structures to co-exist in the same
classroom/for same grade? Should the preparations for
teachers change depending on the organizational
structure used?
Organizational Structures
★ Self-contained
★ Departmentalization
★ Looping
★ Multi-age classrooms
Self-Contained Classrooms
• A self-contained classroom is defined as
one teacher teaching all the subjects in
one classroom
o Traditionally used in elementary schools
o Teachers are generalists
 Math, Science, Social Studies, Language Arts
Benefits of Self-Contained Class
Produces a coordinated curriculum (Culyer, 1984)
No rotation
o “Rotation is more likely to disrupt the younger than the older child’s
development because,..., the barriers to learning are mainly in the
child not in the difficulty of the subjects studied” (Elkind, 1988)
No time wasted on transition (Culyer, 1984)
Greater teacher acquaintance (Ackerlund)
Avoids necessity of child having to adjust to more than one teacher
Younger students benefit from stability and continuity (Hood)
Disadvantages of Self-Contained
Typical elementary school teacher is a jack of all
subjects and the master of none (Tanner, 1960)
o Several researchers confirm the need for teachers to
understand the subject matter they teach (Ponder)
Flexibility allows for teacher to skip subjects
o If a teacher lacks confidence in a subject, they tend
to skip it
o Science is taught for about 16 minutes a day in most
kindergarten through sixth grade classrooms (Teicher,
Research on Self-Contained
In a study of 5th and 6th graders, students in self-contained classes
experienced significant gains in language and science (McGrath and Rust,
o No differences in reading math, social studies
In a study of 4th and 5th graders, 4th grade students in self-contained
classes achieved better on social studies (Bowser, 1984)
o No differences in science for 4th graders, no significant difference in
5th graders
In a study of 6th graders, students in self-contained classes performed
higher in reading, math, and science (Garrigan, 1992)
o No difference in social studies
“Statistical studies of the effectiveness of departmentalization and the
self-contained classroom often report findings that are contradictory and
There’s no consensus in regard to organizational structures best for upper
elementary (Ponder)
No evidence that adjustment to different teaching personalities simultaneously
is harmful to children (Ackerlund)
The process of grouping subjects into
★ Students receive instruction from several different
teachers, each specializing in a different subject
Benefits of Departmentalization
Easy transition from middle school to high
Improves interpersonal skills
More thorough
➔ Departmentalized 843.36
➔ Traditional 837.73
Study 2-“Fourth grade earned all five points on the
state proficiency test after two years of
departmentalization.”(Canady & Retting 1995)
Disadvantages of
• What makes a good teacher?
Lack of nurturing
Difficult communication
Many hours of organization occur when beginning
“Our third grade team spent several days developing consistent
rules, discipline procedures and organizational strategies.”
(A. Rosser October 7, 2004).
“Specializing in one subject area is a more efficient use of time”
“Alternative schedules may not add hours to the school day, but
they can vastly improve the quality of the time students spend
at school.”(Canady & Retting 1995)
Study 1-Results indicated a slightly lower mean number
of books read and far less variation among classes in the
number of books read.(Lamme, Elementary School
Study 2-Departmentalization improves the quality of
instruction in specialized subject matter at a cost to
student-teacher relations.
Will departmentalization of curricular areas reduce stress on teachers as
they prepare their lessons?
Will departmentalization enable teachers to create more meaningful and
engaging lessons for students?
Will departmentalization provide teachers with more time to assess student
Do you think teachers need an education degree if they are
Should todays teachers have more content knowledge?
Do you think today's teachers are prepared for this particular organizational
Do you see these learning structures outside of the classroom?
Jack of all trades, Master of none….How does this affect how the student
“You can’t make a student learn you have to get to know how they learn, how they retain information, what motivates them.”
● Endorsed by the U.S. Department of Education as early as 1913 referred
to as a form of classroom organization in which a teacher spends two or
three years with the same group of students.
● Implemented the most in elementary school, but is seen in middle school
and rarely in high school.
● Looping is a structure not a program. (Char Forsten)
● Preparing the teachers adequately for their “new” curriculum yields the
best results.
Benefits of Looping
● More personalized and individualized learning and instruction (Berlin
1996, Burke, 1996)
● A better understanding of students learning abilities and needs
(especially beneficial for students who have challenges in the classroom)
(Berlin, 1996, Grant, 1996)
● Continuity in an academic program
● Strong relationships with students, parents, and families (Pecanic 2003)
● Higher test scores (Kelley, Carothers, 2004)
● A sense of familiarity and connection (helps with transition) (Pecanic,
● Possibilities for summertime learning (Hanson, 1995)
● Long term relationships result in an emotional and intellectual climate that
encourages thinking, risk-taking, and involvement. (Marzano, 1992)
Disadvantages of Looping
● A teacher has to have familiarity with more than one grade’s materials
and methods for teaching it
● Class management could be disrupted and challenging because of
students knowing each other too well (would also impede learning)
● Poor match with students
● No exposure to different classroom environments, instructional methods,
or other students
● Students adapt to less change (Hoffman)
● A lot of benefits and disadvantages resulting from studies in different
grade levels and classroom environments.
● However, it has been tried in Colorado, New York, Illinois, and
Massachusetts, to name a few.
○ Some positive results, some negative, some inconclusive.
■ Data from a seven year period from a school district that loops
1st-8th grades in Massachusetts: student attendance increased
daily from 92% to 97%, discipline and suspensions declined
significantly, retention rates decreased by more than 43%
■ Looping referred to as “the gift of time” (Elliott and Capp,
2003; Mazzuchi and Brooks, 1992)
■ Snoke (2007)
What are Multi-age Classrooms?
Based on Piaget, Montessori, Burner
where students of different age, maturity
level, or grade are all in a single classroom
o can be used in pre-school all through high
school to differing degree
o can be used in part with self-contained,
looped, or departmentalized classesb
What kind of benefits do multi-age
classrooms create?
● classrooms become more
of a family
○ Younger learn from and
emulate older (Adams,
○ older learn to support and
lead the younger
• attitudes toward school improve- especially in low
SES students (Gorrell, 1998)
• Social development is developed and strong
friendships are formed
• Students make largest gains in vocabulary and
verbal simulations (Prat, 1986)
o “assistance most often flows from the more competent
to the less competent...but influence is inevitably
reciprocal and shared” Tharp (89)
What are some of the disadvantages
of this method?
no academic benefit
“Simply no worse, and simply no better, than
single grade or single age classroom” Veenman
most often used with special needs students or- only the most high-achieving (TangenFoster, 1998)
requires the teacher to differentiate more this is tiring, and difficult (Kobelin; Adams
More natural socialization and formations of friendships
(Pratt, 1986)
In 18 different studies of low SES students in Chicago and
Milwaukee schools found lower aggression
o “live together for two or more years and are familiar with each atmosphere of shared responsibility for classroom
order” (McClellan, 1997)
Four studies in early ‘90s show academic gains
o “children think more, learn more, remember more, take
greater pleasure in learning, spend more time on task, and
are more productive in classes that emphasize learning in
well-implemented cooperative groups rather than in
Do looping and multi-age have their benefits?
Are the social benefits provided by looping and
multi-age classrooms enough incentive to
choose them over Self-contained and
Even though the academic benefits are
Which,in your opinion, is most important?
Academics or social?
Which organizational structure
best promotes student learning?
Each group please pick one structure of
learning that we discussed today that
best promotes student learning?
Is there one organizational structure
that best promotes student learning?
Population distributions? Is it possible for different
organizational structures to co-exist in the same
classroom/for same grade? Should the preparations for
teachers change depending on the organizational structure