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A comparison of junior and senior high school student attitudes with faculty attitudes toward purposes, functions and responsibilities of the student council Public Deposited

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  • The Purpose: The purpose of this study is to develop an original validated Lickert-type attitudinal survey instrument and administer it to selected samples of teachers and students in the Mid-Willamette Valley of Oregon to determine their attitude toward the "purposes," "functions," and "responsibilities" of student councils and place these results in juxtaposition for analysis. Scope and Limitations: The data and results may be generalizable to other school populations of similar socio-economic characteristics providing the basic assumptions and definitions are accepted. Generalization of the results to schools with low socio-economic levels, large urban schools, bi-lingual student bodies or isolated rural areas might well be invalid. Procedures: A 73 item survey instrument was developed utilizing statements from the literature and suggestions from colleagues and students. The questionnaire was validated and field tested prior to administration. Respondents represented five large districts and five smaller rural school districts. Questionnaires were administered to whole class rooms of heterogeneously grouped seniors and either eighth or ninth grade junior high students, depending on school organization. Sample size included 365 faculty and 1367 students. data was submitted to the computer for a T test between mean responses which were tested at the .05 level of significance. Conclusions: 1) There is a high degree of opinion agreement between faculty members and students at both junior and senior high levels concerning the "purposes" of student council. 2) Responses concerning "function" revealed agreement between faculty and students that the council should serve as a forum for opening up communication and should review issues that arise between faculty and students. Neither group desired to disband the student council. Significant opinion disagreement increased on the "function" factor. Students appeared to want to expand council involvement to areas previously considered by staff members as their domain. Students want involvement in significant areas such as curriculum development, instructional evaluation, and policy formation on grading, attendance, and other areas which directly affect them. Faculty seemed reluctant to open up these areas to student influence. Senior high faculty and student opinions were very similar to junior high faculty and students. Students with council experience were more convinced than their inexperienced classmates that the council should expand its area of involvement. Experience with council programs had little effect on faculty opinions toward opening up traditionally closed areas to student involvement. 3) Student average responses fell in the "no-responsibility" category in only one case of 35 items. Student attitudes strongly indicate that they believe they should responsibility with the faculty in nearly all activities and decisions which concern them. Disagreement between faculty and students arises on issues concerning the decision-making process, policy formation, and evaluation. Recommendations: Regardless of the organization pattern that may evolve, if student representative government is to be effective it must deal with mature issues and real problems of the school. Channels of communication must be opened to solicit student thinking, deliberation, and involvement in nearly all areas of the school operation including those traditionally considered off-limits to student input.
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