Instructors as learning managers : span of control as a factor of class size in higher education Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/ms35tc10v

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  • Research suggests that a key factor in student persistence and success is the relationships students form with faculty (Chickering & Gamson, 1991; Kuh et al., 2005; Tinto, 1987). While it appears to be intuitive that small classes would promote these instructor/student relationships, research on class size provides conflicting results, with only some studies showing positive student outcomes in small classes. In business, however, research clearly identifies that a small ratio of manager to employees, called span of control and with an average size of 1:10, is important for maintaining employee satisfaction, facilitating skill development, and when tasks require complex problem-solving and creativity (Doran et al., 2004; Gittell, 2001; McManus, 2007). This study explores the perceptions of managers and instructors concerning the nature of their work with employees and students, respectively. An intersect of the management and instruction roles may be that both help people acquire skills in order to fulfill work objectives. If there are commonalities between the way managers and instructors work with people, then span of control may be an appropriate application for determining class size. If managers can only work with 10 people because of the complexities of the human experience and job tasks, the question is, why do instructors work with at least twice as many people, but must expect the same results? Using the Q method and a focus group as a way to compare study participants' attitudes, there appears to be a significant correlation between the way managers and instructors perceive their roles in working with employees and students. Both managers and instructors in the study believe building collaborative relationships with others is important for producing positive outcomes. Both report the importance of their roles in helping individuals develop critical thinking and problem-solving skills. In addition, the managers and instructors in the study acknowledge important similarities within their work with employees and students.
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