Posted: October 27th, 2022

Discussion: Becoming an Agent of Change

Walden University has been committed to social change since it was founded in 1970. As part of this commitment, students in most every program and specialization are encouraged to actively engage in social action and to become an agent of change. What does it mean to be an agent of change? As a professional in an educational field, you have chosen to make a difference in the lives of children and students, which is an example of social change. In this course, and throughout your program, you have considered the education and development of children and the role of educators in the community.

For this Discussion, you will analyze how you will continue to use data in creating and supporting effective educational practices. You will also examine your own social change profile and how you can become an educational agent of change.

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To prepare:

  • Review Walden University’s mission and vision statements, the Callahan et al. paper (2012), and the Fullan (2016) chapters for this module. Consider the impact of data-driven positive social change on government leaders, teachers, and educators.
  • Read the Hargreaves & Ainscow (2015) article and consider their ideas about leading from the middle. How might the concepts explored and insights you have gained in this course impact your future goals and your development as a leader of educational change and an agent of social change?
  • Complete Walden’s short, interactive, online quiz, “What Kind of Social Change Agent Are You?” Did your kind of social change agent surprise you, or was it in line with your own thinking?

 A response to the following:

  • How will you continue to use data to inform your decisions in creating and supporting effective educational practices?
  • How do you envision yourself becoming an educational agent of change in your future professional practice?
  • What goals will you set for yourself following graduation to impact children, students, and your community? Be sure to include an explanation of how your kind of social change agent profile generated from the Walden quiz aligns with your goals.
  • How will Walden’s mission and vision, the goals in the Callahan et al. (2012) paper, and Fullan’s (2016) thoughts on educational change influence your views and practices in the future?

For this Discussion, and all scholarly writing in this course and throughout your program, you will be required to use APA style and provide reference citations.

Learning Resources

Note: To access this module’s required library resources, please click on the link to the Course Readings List, found in the Course Materials section of your Syllabus.

Required Readings

Fullan, M. (2016). The new meaning of educational change (5th ed.). New York, NY: Teachers College Press.

· Chapter 11, “Governments” (pp. 209–227)

· Chapter 12, “The Teaching Profession and Its Leaders” (pp. 228–257)

· Chapter 13, “The Future of Educational Change” (pp. 258–265)

Callahan, D., Wilson, E., Birdsall, I., Estabrook-Fishinghawk, B., Carson, G., Ford, S., . . . Yob, I. (2012). Expanding our understanding of social change: A report from the definition task force of the HLC Special Emphasis Project [White paper]. Minneapolis, MN: Walden University.

Social Change Web Maps [Diagrams]. Adapted from Expanding our understanding of social change, by ​Callahan, D., Wilson, E., Birdsall, I., Estabrook-Fishinghawk, B., Carson, G., Ford, S., Ouzts, K., & Yob, I., 2008. Baltimore, MD: Walden University. Adapted with permission of Walden University.

Hargreaves, A, & Ainscow, M. (2015). The top and bottom of leadership and change. Phi Delta Kappan, 97(3), 43–48.

Walden University. (2017a). Riley College of Education. Retrieved from https://www.waldenu.edu/about/colleges-schools/riley-college-of-education

Review the Riley College of Education page to locate the Educational Specialist program outcomes and your specialization’s curriculum and outcomes for this module’s Assignment. 

Walden University. (2013). What kind of social change agent are you? Retrieved from http://impactreport.waldenu.edu/

Walden University. (2017b). Who we are. Retrieved from https://www.waldenu.edu/about/who-we-are

Review this site for information on Walden University’s mission and vision and its focus on social change.

Walden University. (2015b). Professional dispositions. Minneapolis, MN: Author.

Walden University. (2015a). Diversity proficiencies. Minneapolis, MN: Author.

Walden University. (2015c). Technology proficiencies. Minneapolis, MN: Author.

42 Kappan November 2015

The top and bottom of
leadership and change
Successful large-scale reform efforts — one in Northern England, another in
Canada — bolster the approach of “leading from the middle.”

by andy hargreaves and mel ainscow

For 15 years and more, in the U.S., England, parts of Canada, and elsewhere, reforms
to improve educational equity and achievement have come in large-scale measures — de-
signed and delivered in detail by big government across whole systems. Such top-down
reforms promised a sharp focus on improving literacy and mathematics achievement and
boosting high school graduation.

Image: Thinkstock/iStock

V97 N3 kappanmagazine.org 43

Comments?
Like PDK at www.
facebook.com/pdkintl

Training, coaching, and other professional development supports accompanied some
top-down strategies. Others, like the No Child Left Behind law, proved excessively de-
manding, requiring progress for all categories of students every year and imposing puni-
tive consequences when schools and districts fell short.

But punitive or supportive, all top-down reforms have an Achilles heel: Their focus
on micromanaging two or three measurable priorities only works for systems pursuing
traditional and comparatively narrow achievement goals. A digital age of complex skills,
cultural diversity, and high-speed change calls for more challenging educational goals and
more sophisticated and fl exible change strategies.

Thus, reformers are advocating greater autonomy for schools and teachers, increased
freedom for local curriculum design, and more independent and personalized access to
technology. But the history of bottom-up innovation and individual school autonomy is
not impressive. In the 1960s and ’70s, innovative ideas often didn’t spread beyond a few
isolated classrooms and schools, and, when they did, their implementation often was fatally
fl awed (Gross, Giacquinta, & Bernstein, 1971). There is no reason to believe that efforts
to spread the success of a few innovative, high-tech schools will fare any better today.

andy haRgReaVes (andrew.hargreaves@bc.edu) is the Brennan Chair in Education in the Lynch School of Education at Boston
College, Chestnut Hill, Mass. He is co-author of Uplifting Leadership (Wiley, 2014). mel ainscoW is a professor of education at
the University of Manchester, United Kingdom, and author of Toward self-improving school systems: Lessons from a city challenge
(Routledge, 2015).

What can the U.S. learn from

england and canada?

3Top-down reforms have a long

history of failure. A middle-driven

approach of coordinated change,

collective responsibility, and delegating

resources and authority to school

districts can yield positive results.

44 Kappan November 2015

2014; Sutton Trust, 2015). This has created a co-
nundrum of district-driven improvement:

Although all high-performing nations are
characterized by strong local control, not all
nations with strong local control are high per-
forming.

One response to this conundrum is to say that
school districts aren’t worth saving and either deliver
reforms in detail from the top or institute market-
based, individual alternatives like charter schools,
free schools, and academies that are insulated from
district control. Another response is to use central
funding formulas to compensate for bad variation
and inequities. However, the strings attached to this
funding often heap more grant writing and account-
ability requirements on already overstretched high-
poverty districts.

leading from the middle

A third way to reduce bad variation among school
districts is to promote collaboration among them so
they share resources, ideas, and expertise and exer-
cise collective responsibility for student success. In
this leading from the middle approach, districts don’t
just mediate and manage other people’s reforms
individually; they become the collective drivers of
change and improvement together. When districts
lead from the middle together, they:

• Respond to local needs and diversities;
• Take collective responsibility for all students’

and each other’s success;
• Exercise initiative rather than implementing

other people’s initiatives;
• Integrate their own efforts with broad system

priorities; and
• Establish transparency of participation and

results.

These components of leading from the middle are

In an age of innovation and diversity, top-down
strategies are inappropriate, while bottom-up strat-
egies seem unable to achieve improvement on any
significant scale. So what should we do instead?
One possibility is shifting attention toward districts,
which can support schools and teachers in innovating
and improving together.

leading in the middle

In North America and Northern Europe, school
districts have historically been the linchpin of local
democracy (Katz, 1987; Bryk et al., 1998). California
Gov. Jerry Brown has recognized this by returning
education spending control back to the state’s over
900 local districts, placing maximum control at the
most local level of competent authority (Torlakson,
2015). Districts can provide a valuable focus for school
improvement, be a means for efficient and effective
use of research evidence and data analysis across
schools, support schools in responding coherently to
multiple external reform demands, and be champi-
ons for families and students, making sure everybody
gets a fair deal. Strong districts are powerful forces
for positive educational change (Leithwood, 2013).
Strong and steadily improving districts like Boston
Public Schools and Long Beach Public Schools have
received widespread acclaim for systemwide gains
(Barber, Chijioke, & Mourshed, 2011). In England,
some of the most dramatic turnarounds have been in
urban districts, like the London boroughs of Hackney
and Tower Hamlets, which went from the lowest per-
formers in the country to scoring above the national
average on all key indicators (Hargreaves, Boyle, &
Harris, 2014; Hargreaves & Shirley, 2009).

So some reformers argue that the middle level
needs a stronger role in order to implement changes
from the top and to move around ideas and strategies
percolating up (Schleicher, 2015). This amounts to
a kind of leadership in the middle — a healthy sort
of middle-stage spread.

Weaknesses of the middle

Leading in the middle is promising, but it’s not
enough. Not all local school systems or districts are
strong. Some districts do well; others fare badly.
Districts vary in their resources and capacities for
change, like networking and seeking other ideas.
Districts can be self-serving, politically toxic, gla-
cially slow at driving improvement, and, as in the
Atlanta cheating scandal, just plain corrupt.

In the U.S. and England especially, there are unac-
ceptable variations in school district quality. Differ-
ences in demographics, poverty, funding, and capac-
ity to attract and develop effective leadership means
very high-performing and very low-performing
districts sometimes coexist side-by-side (Noguera,

Large-scale success cannot be
achieved if districts continue to act
independently of one another.

V97 N3 kappanmagazine.org 45

land as head teachers) changed the cultures of the
schools. Instead of blaming parents in poor families
for not being interested in their children’s learning,
schools came to appreciate the stresses facing fam-
ilies and then responded with local flexibility and
intensive support. They began to focus on deliver-
ing better, more interesting teaching and learning
through strategies like cooperative learning and
Japanese lesson study. There was a lot of pressure
on teachers and schools to work hard to improve
results, but there also was more emphasis on caring
for the adults in the schools as well as the children
so that the schools became happy and professionally
fulfilling places to work.

None of this was easy. Local authorities are politi-
cal entities as well as providers of services. Internal
conflicts and external turf wars were often exacer-
bated by national policies that promote interschool
competition. A steering committee involving na-
tional government and local representatives got
locked into conflicts over the budget. A commit-
tee of leaders of the 10 authorities became fractious

evident in two systemwide reforms in which we have
been closely involved — the Greater Manchester
Challenge (GMC) in England, and district-driven
improvements in Ontario, Canada.

greater manchester challenge

The United Kingdom government initiated the
GMC in the 2007-08 school year by bringing to-
gether 10 school districts (known in the UK as local
authorities) to improve standards over three years.
Co-author and professor of education Mel Ainscow
was appointed chief adviser to this approximately
$80 million (U.S.) project. “There are lots of good
things going on in schools in Greater Manchester,”
Ainscow said upon his appointment. “The task now
is to spread the best practice to all schools.”

But how would this be done? Ainscow’s group de-
vised several principles for the effort:

• Leaders of successful schools would work with
weaker schools to improve their leadership
teams;

• Schools with similar student populations would
be clustered to share best practices; and

• Local problems would be met with local
solutions.

Getting schools to collaborate was not a new idea
in England. What was different, though, was that
while previous school-to-school networks and part-
nerships had tended to bypass local authorities, 10
of them would be driving improvement together (see
Ainscow, 2015 for a full account of the GMC).

Multiple strategies brought this simple principle
to life. Schools cooperated across authority bound-
aries. Recently turned-around schools became key
in helping other schools. Hub schools that demon-
strated excellence in particular areas provided ex-
tensive training and development for teachers in
other schools and local authorities. Schools at dif-
ferent stages of development organized in “families.”
A Jewish school assisted a predominantly Muslim
partner. A Catholic school prayed for a good in-
spection result for its secular counterpart. School
officials found hidden capacity and capitalized on it;
they shared knowledge and overcame old rivalries
for the higher purpose of improving the whole area.

The Manchester area had suffered from historic
problems of unemployment and deprivation for four
decades, but by 2011, GMC schools were above the
national average on all standardized test measures.
Secondary schools in the most disadvantaged com-
munities improved at three times the rate of the na-
tional average.

By working together, principals (known in Eng-

Punitive or supportive, all versions of
top-down reform have an Achilles heel.

whenever it was presented with disturbing data or
with concerns about lack of progress. While six of
the authorities were willing to change roles and re-
sponsibilities, two others accommodated the new
language of shared responsibility for improvement
without making any real changes in practice. But
over time, with persistence of effort, relationships
improved, some personnel changed, ideas and strat-
egies started to be shared between schools as well
as within them, and the authorities even began to
commit to some joint delivery of services.

The strategies adopted in Manchester (and now
in Wales) define the essence of leading from the
middle. But this term didn’t arise in the UK. It first
emerged in a systemwide project with 10 school dis-
tricts that the other co-author of this article (Andy
Hargreaves) carried out with his colleague Henry
Braun in Ontario, Canada.

ontario district-led reforms

Ontario has undertaken one of the world’s best-
known, large-scale educational reforms. The most

46 Kappan November 2015

where even small amounts of extra resources could
therefore make a great difference, this built a criti-
cal mass of district support. Larger districts eventu-
ally were persuaded to participate with their smaller
counterparts by appealing to their historic symbolic
status and the contribution they could make to the
collective good of the province’s students.

Responsibility for planning and implementation
came under a core team of six key staff — retired
district leaders and superintendents of curriculum
or special education — who jointly developed proj-
ect goals, designed an implementation strategy, and
monitored participation and results. They did this by
constantly connecting with and circulating among
the districts, making necessary changes and refine-
ments as they amassed evidence of what was working
and what was not.

Like the GMC, district leaders did not believe
that one-size-fits-all strategies were appropriate in
a province where one in four schoolchildren were
born outside of Canada, leading to several different
strategies:

• In a district with high numbers of children
from immigrant families, the project focused
on early literacy initiatives like a summer head-
start program for students new to the region
and a “snuggle up and read” program involving
parents or other family members.

• In a district serving a large student population
of Old Order German-origin Mennonites
whose community is characterized by mutual
aid, commitment to collective self-sufficiency,
and wearing traditional dress, children tended
to leave school early to work on the farms,
or, in the case of girls, to get married and
have children. Standard efforts to enforce
school attendance and improve high school
completion would prompt families to move to
other parts of their rural network throughout
North America. So school leaders engaged
with their culture, for example, by using
the community’s agricultural products for

publicized parts of the reform, involving more than
5,000 schools, have been the focus on raising expec-
tations and narrowing the achievement gap in tested
literacy and mathematics and on increasing the rates of
high school completion. The design and implementa-
tion of this reform — by a “guiding coalition” of po-
litical and professional forces — was complemented
by strong support to enable districts to be successful
in achieving the desired results (Campbell et al., 2015).

The province’s 72 school districts and their sys-
tem leaders led a less well-known part of the reform
agenda. In 2005, the government gave the districts
an initial investment of $25 million (Canadian) to
design and implement a strategy to improve learn-
ing and achievement for students with special edu-
cational needs that would also benefit all students.
One system leader described this change as “leading
from the middle.” After four years of this reform,
the literacy achievement gap between students with
special needs and other students had narrowed in
reading and especially in writing.

A survey of the reform indicated the changes
brought greater collaboration among staff, more
joint planning, and broader acceptance of collective
responsibility for all students (Hargreaves & Braun,
2012). Teachers reported increased use of differenti-
ated instruction, more analysis and discussion of data
to pinpoint needed interventions, greater coopera-
tion between special education resource teachers and
classroom teachers in relation to all students who
struggled rather than only those with official iden-
tifications, and more use of assistive technologies for
students with learning disabilities. Intensive site vis-
its in all 10 districts corroborated these results and
also revealed greater collaboration between curricu-
lum and special education departments within dis-
tricts that sometimes amounted to total integration.
In general, educators reported a large movement
from a culture of “my students” to “our students.”

District leaders drove this strategy. They took
a counterintuitive approach of providing identical
funding to all 72 districts, regardless of their size. In
a province where many districts were quite small and

In the leading from the middle approach, districts don’t just mediate and manage
other people’s reforms individually; they become the collective drivers of change and
improvement together.

V97 N3 kappanmagazine.org 47

not micromanaging) this district-driven change. It
stated that the CODE special education project must
address issues of underachievement and the need to
narrow the achievement gap and that the project
should be consistent with the guiding philosophy
of a 2005 provincial report called Education for All
(Ontario Ministry of Education, 2005).

Ontario’s special education reform created a
change design that improved education for all stu-
dents across the system. It drove change from the
middle instead of ordering it from the top. And
instead of expecting districts to adopt uniform re-
sponses to a centralized reform strategy, the reform
generated and galvanized local creativity and energy
in order to respond flexibly to local needs and cir-
cumstances.

Building on its improvements in literacy and high
school graduation and the success of its reforms, On-
tario is moving further forward to pursue broader,
bolder goals that include achievement and equity in
21st-century skills, arts, sciences, and citizenship. It
also is pursuing greater well-being in mental, emo-
tional, and physical health (Ontario Ministry of Edu-
cation, 2014). The Boston College team is now work-
ing with the 10 districts to lead from the middle, for
the province, in relation to increasing students’ and
teachers’ engagement, promoting their well-being
and building positive, diverse identities among them.

conclusion

In recent years, in too many countries, school dis-
tricts have been driven to distraction and to near
destruction by top-down changes that have under-
mined or bypassed their authority and also the com-
munities they serve. There is clear evidence that dis-
tricts can and should be a big part of a better future
for children, if they’re willing to embrace changes
in their thinking and practice.

Large-scale success cannot be achieved if districts
continue to act independently of one another. Lead-
ing from the middle, not just in the middle, can use

children’s lunches, meeting parents on street
corners, carrying home their shopping, and
building relationships to shift perceptions
about the value of formal education.

• A remote rural district serving just 24 schools
across an area the size of France had struggled
with how to raise expectations for the 40% of
children from aboriginal families (known in
Canada as First Nations communities). Some
educators believed that children from these
communities could not learn, could barely
speak, and mainly needed an emotionally safe
and caring environment. The district’s response
was to coach teachers to use more specific,
differentiated, and culturally appropriate
teaching strategies, and to examine examples of
student work among colleagues to demonstrate
possibilities for student and teacher success.

Like the GMC, the Ontario special education
project also stressed collective cross-district respon-
sibility for all students’ success. All 72 districts were
involved. Collective responsibility began with teach-
ers across grade levels and with special education and
regular classroom assignments taking responsibility
for struggling students and their progress together.
The districts exercised collective responsibility, too,
in how they shared strategies transparently at annual
retreats where they presented their practices and re-
sults, in how they communicated with the steering
committee, and in how they were connected by their
team of mentors and monitors who were ensuring
that intentions were being converted into action.
These mentors and monitors did not have hierar-
chical supervisory authority over the districts and
their leaders. Instead, these respected peers acted as
a “third-party” force responsible for improvement,
system learning, and, where needed, to challenge
existing practice.

Ontario’s special education reform was not only
implemented by district leaders and special educa-
tion superintendents; it was devised and driven by
them. At the very beginning the executive director
of the Council of Ontario Directors of Education
(CODE) and a small group of his associates who
acted on behalf of the 72 district leaders pointed
out to the Ministry of Education that it already had
allocated significant resources to other groups such
as the teachers’ unions. CODE therefore requested
resources and authority of its own to lead improve-
ments in special education.

Though some feared the district leaders and their
organization might diverge from Ministry of Edu-
cation policy, these leaders sought ways to integrate
their own efforts with central government directions.
The ministry itself took a clear role in steering (but

A Jewish school assisted a
predominantly Muslim partner. A
Catholic school prayed for a good
inspection result for its secular
counterpart.

48 Kappan November 2015

Bryk, A.S., Sebring, P.B., Kerbow, D., Rollow, S., & Easton,

J.Q. (1998). Charting Chicago school reform: Democratic

localism as a lever for change. Boulder, CO: Westview Press.

Campbell, C., Osmond-Johnson, P., Lieberman, A., & Sohn,

J. (2015). International teacher policy study: Ontario case

report. Toronto, ON: Ontario Institute for Studies in Education,

University of Toronto. http://bit.ly/1WueyUR

Gross, N., Giacquinta, J.B., & Bernstein, M. (1971).

Implementing organizational innovations: A sociological

analysis of planned educational change. New York, NY: Basic

Books.

Hargreaves, A., Boyle, A., & Harris, A. (2014). Uplifting

leadership: How teams and communities raise performance.

San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Hargreaves, A. & Braun, H. (2012). Leading for all: Final report

of the review of the development of essential for some, good

for all: Ontario’s strategy for special education reform devised

by the Council of Directors of Education. Toronto, Ontario:

Council of Directors of Education.

Hargreaves, A. & Shirley, D. (2009). The fourth way: The

inspiring future for educational change. Thousand Oaks, CA:

Corwin Press.

Katz, M. (1987) Reconstructing American education.

Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Leithwood, K. (2013). Strong districts & their leadership.

Toronto, Ontario: Ontario Institute of Education Leadership.

Noguera, P. (2014, June 18). In defense of teacher tenure:

A few ineffective educators are not the primary reason

many schools are struggling. The Wall Street Journal. www.

wsj.com/articles/pedro-noguera-in-defense-of-teacher-

tenure-1403134951

Ontario Ministry of Education. (2005). Education for all. http://

bit.ly/1ihpaYA

Ontario Ministry of Education. (2014). Achieving excellence: A

renewed vision for education in Ontario. http://bit.ly/1ihoYsk

Rincon-Gallardo, S. & Fullan, M. (in press). Essential features

of effective collaboration: The social physics of educational

change. Journal of Professional Capital and Community.

Schleicher, A. (2015, March 30). Implementing highly effective

teacher policy and practice: The 2015 International Summit

on the Teaching Profession. www.slideshare.net/OECDEDU/

implementing-highly-effective-teacher-policy-and-practice-

2015-international-summit-of-the-teaching-profession

Sutton Trust Education Data Lab. (2015). Missing talent.

Research brief. London, UK: Sutton Trust. http://bit.

ly/1EQWT5k

Torlakson, T. (2015) A blueprint for great schools: Version 2.0.

Sacramento, CA: California Department of Education.

Leading in the middle is a promising
direction, but it’s not enough.

“As you can see boys and girls, the alphabet comes in ‘caps
lock on’ and ‘caps lock off.’”

the power of local solutions to diverse problems in
an environment where schools work with schools
and districts work with districts as they exercise col-
lective initiative and responsibility for all students’
success. This kind of leadership needn’t be confined
to districts and can encompass networks and other
kinds of partnerships as well (Rincon-Gallardo &
Fullan, in press). But collective responsibility is not
just something districts should ask others to under-
take. It is something that districts now have to take
on themselves. K

References

Ainscow, M. (2015) Towards self-improving school systems:

Lessons from a city challenge. London, UK: Routledge.

Barber, M., Chijioke, C., & Mourshed, M. (2011). How the

world’s most improved school systems keep getting better.

Chicago, IL: McKinsey & Company.

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Expanding
Our
Understanding
of Social
Change

A Report From the
Definition Task Force of the
HLC Special Emphasis
Project

Darragh Callahan, Elizabeth Wilson, Ian Birdsall,
Brooke Estabrook-Fishinghawk, Gary Carson,

Stephanie Ford, Karen Ouzts, Iris Yob

Expanding Our Understanding (July 2012) Page 2

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Expanding Our Understanding (July 2012) Page 3

Social change is defined broadly in terms of process and product to indicate that all kinds of

social change activity are welcomed and encouraged at Walden. As faculty members, students,

and alumni have indicated, even small acts can have large consequences, and many of these

consequences are unpredictable. The charge given to the Definition Task Force was to expand

the university’s definition of social change to provide more guidance for teaching, learning, and

assessing the social change mission at Walden. To that end, the Task Force offers the following

considerations.

To bring about long-term solutions and promote lasting effects through the process of social

change, the following features may need to be considered as appropriate to the context and

purposes of each program. The features are grouped under the headings Knowledge, Skills, and

Attitudes, to encourage a holistic approach to preparing learners for social change. The

groupings, however, are defined by soft boundaries because each feature belongs primarily to

one group but may share some of the qualities of the other groups.

A. Knowledge

1. Scholarship

The scholar-practitioner model is particularly suited to social change because knowledge

applied to real-life situations is a scholar-practitioner’s goal. In the scholarly role, the

scholar-practitioner engages in active learning, critical reflection, and inquiry into real-

life dilemmas and possibilities. Careful study and research can reveal the causes and

correlates of social problems and suggest solutions and opportunities for promoting

growth.

2. Systems thinking

Many of the issues addressed by social change are complex because there may be

multiple causes and manifestations of the issue that require different responses at many

levels. Systemic thinking is a technique for developing insights into challenging

situations and complex subjects. It usually begins with analysis, which makes sense of a

system by breaking it apart to see how the parts work together and influence each

other. This may be followed by synthesis that aims to develop a set of responses that

address the situation in a comprehensive way. In the Walden community, finding

systemic solutions to challenging issues might be undertaken by multidisciplinary

collaborations in which scholar-practitioners from a number of colleges work together

to examine issues and propose multipronged responses.

http://www.probsolv.com/probsolv.htm

Expanding Our Understanding (July 2012) Page 4

3. Reflection

Those working toward positive social change can enhance their effectiveness by

reflecting on the experience. Reflection can be extrospective, that is, looking outward to

review the short- and long-term outcomes of a project and its implications for the

individuals, institutions, and communities with and for whom one is working. It can also

be introspective, that is, looking inward to examine what has been learned from the

process, including new insights into one’s motives, skills, knowledge, actions, and

reactions. Self-reflection allows for the contemplation of one’s professional and

personal development. Group reflection affords all stakeholders in a social change

project (scholar-practitioners, community partners, policy-makers, and beneficiaries) an

opportunity to process the experience and learn from each other. Reflection employs

critical-thinking and analytical skills. It can be carried forward by questioning and self-

inquiry and may depend on a willingness to see things from another’s perspective.

While reflection needs to be honest, it should also be caring and supportive, examining

strengths as well as weaknesses and successes as along with disappointments. While

reflection may look to the past, its purpose is forward-looking—to make future social

change activities more effective.

B. Skills

4. Practice

In the practitioner role, the scholar-practitioner engages in the application of

knowledge. Learning-by-doing, or experiential learning, has a long history of support

and success in education because it can infuse and sometimes lead to deconstructing or

constructing theoretical understandings within the realities of practical life in the

student’s personal growth, profession, or community. By using recursive loops between

scholarship and practice, both intellectual growth and better practice can occur—each

informing the other. Not merely knowing about theories but actually testing theories in

the context of everyday life is the foundation of a scholar-practitioner’s educational

process and contribution to social change.

5. Collaboration

Given the complexity of many of the issues addressed in social change efforts,

responsive action may be needed from many different sources. In these situations, the

Expanding Our Understanding (July 2012) Page 5

social change agent may want to build working relationships with other entities

including community leaders, service agencies, neighborhood coalitions, businesses,

religious congregations, and other local institutions. Apart from these types of civic

engagement, collaboration with scholars and practitioners in an array of professional

fields may bring a variety of perspectives, research, and applied knowledge.

Partnerships can unite the skills, knowledge, and energies needed to make a difference.

The ability to build a team, combined with leadership, project management, conflict

resolution, and communication skills, may be essential. A significant partner in social

change enterprises is the primary beneficiary; this person has a personal knowledge and

experience that can be invaluable in both analyzing a situation and proposing responses.

The primary beneficiary may be one individual or someone representing the

perspectives of a group of beneficiaries. Working collaboratively with primary

beneficiaries can be mutually educative and rewarding.

6. Advocacy

Advocacy is a matter of raising consciousness or being the “voice” for someone, some

group, or something that may or may not otherwise have a voice that can be heard. It

may involve political engagement, but it may also be a matter of supporting others as

they negotiate directly with the services and opportunities they need. In light of social

change, advocacy more widely aims to influence not only political but also economic

and social systems and institutions to protect and promote the dignity, health, safety,

and rights of people. Advocacy for an issue often takes the form of education that aims

to bring about a new understanding and awareness. Advocacy may also need to

encompass mentoring activities to build confidence and self-reliance in those whose

welfare is being promoted.

7. Civic engagement

Social change efforts can be supported and reflected in laws by policy-makers. Being

aware of the channels for communicating with civic leaders and knowing how to

effectively use those channels are often important when working for social change. All

institutions and groups—not just government entities—have their own politics, that is, a

prevailing mind-set, an internal structure, and channels of influence and power. Being

able to incorporate and negotiate these politics in support of social change requires

finesse and sensitivity. Understanding this before engaging with others can be helpful,

whether these others are legislators, local agencies and institutions, professional

associations, neighborhoods, ad hoc teams, or professional colleagues. Power

Expanding Our Understanding (July 2012) Page 6

relationships also exist between those working for social change and those who are the

primary beneficiaries. Mutual collaboration and power-sharing between the parties

involved can empower all toward more lasting social change.

C. Attitudes

8. Humane ethics

While a number of emotional effects may prompt one to engage in social change,

including empathy, sympathy, guilt, a feeling of satisfaction, and so on, one’s ethical

code can inform and direct one’s motivated engagement in social change. Humane

ethics is a system of moral principles that guide human conduct with respect to the

rightness and wrongness of certain actions. While personal codes of ethics may differ,

an underlying, common code of a humane ethic is characterized by tenderness,

compassion, sympathy for people and animals, especially for the suffering or distressed,

and concern for the health of the environment in which we live.

Analyzing Social Change

Figure 1 below shows each of the features—scholarship, systemic thinking, reflection, practice,

collaboration, advocacy, civic engagement, and humane ethics—on an axis ranging from 0 to 5.

Each social change activity or project could be mapped onto the axes to show the extent to

which it incorporates each feature. Joining the points along each axis produces a web for each

activity, an example of which is shown in red.

It is important to note that this tool is not intended to be an instrument to assess a particular

social change activity. Some projects and activities will be appropriately strong in one or more

areas but not necessarily in all. Rather, its purpose is to serve as a tool to analyze social change

activities that occur at Walden. It may reveal areas where an activity might be enhanced, and

importantly, it may reveal where the program for preparing students for social change might be

strengthened.

Further, all kinds of social change activities are encouraged, given the range of interests,

commitments, and opportunities for engagement among students, faculty members, and staff.

Most, if not all, kinds of activity can be represented as a web. The purpose of the web analysis

is ultimately to provide a tool to enlarge our vision of the range and features of social change

that seeks long-term solutions and promotes lasting effects.

Expanding Our Understanding (July 2012) Page 7

Figure 1. Web map showing each of the features.

Below are some examples of web maps of social change activities based on reports by students, faculty

members, and alumni in a recent research study: Perspectives on Social Change. Pseudonyms have been

used throughout.

Example No. 1. Bookcase Builders

Tom is a Rotarian and undertakes a number of service projects in the community with other Rotarians.

One such activity involves building bookcases. Some members of the club also volunteer with Habitat for

Humanity, which provides housing for needy families. Another member has connections with the local

school district and knew of a recent drive to improve the level of literacy in the community. Putting

these together, the club decided to build bookcases for the Habitat for Humanity homes and, through

the support of another club member who manages a bookstore, give each family a gift certificate to buy

books for the children to put in the bookcase.

This activity would certainly rate relatively high on Collaboration for the networking among Rotarians,

the local chapter of Habitat for Humanity, the school district, and the local book store. It also represents

a Humane Ethic in that it shows the responsiveness of this club to the need for these children to read

Expanding Our Understanding (July 2012) Page 8

well for their future success in life. As a practice, this need is supported by implicit knowledge about the

importance of motivating children and providing them with opportunities to read. so there should be a

showing on the Practitioner axis. Figure 2 below shows how this project might be mapped.

Figure 2. Web map of the bookcase builders project.

If Tom and his fellow club members want to pursue this project further they might ask whether they

may seek other possible partners for this endeavor, such as the reading tutors, the bookstore

salespeople, the parents, and even the children themselves. Others brought into the program may

contribute more Systemic Thinking to address the problem of illiteracy. The club members may also

consider follow-up activities using other features like Advocacy with a particular focus on mentoring,

Civic Engagement, or some Scholarly study of or research on the effectiveness of the project.

Example No. 2. Basket-Weavers as Story-Tellers

Arsi’s research took her to a remote and needy area of Jamaica, where many of the village women help

support their families through weaving baskets for sale in the tourist areas. Using a qualitative approach,

Arsi listened to and recorded the women’s stories of their lives in abject poverty, analyzed them for

common themes, and presented her findings as her dissertation. The information in this dissertation

could be invaluable to service agencies and others willing to work with these women to improve their

lives.

Expanding Our Understanding (July 2012) Page 9

The project is high on the Scholar axis, especially because it is research into a real-life problem that

needs informed solutions. It further exhibits significant Collaboration in that she established personal

relationships with the women so that they could tell her their stories. It is also strong in the Humane

Ethics dimension because it deals with real human need. Writing a dissertation also demands Reflection,

particularly because it requires some discussion of the meaning of the findings and their possible

implications. The dissertation ultimately enters the public domain and, as such, is a permanent voice for

the women whose stories it shares (Advocacy). Figure 3 below illustrates this example.

Figure 3. Web map of the basket-weavers as story-tellers project.

Arsi successfully graduated in 2011. If she wanted to continue with the project, she might share her

findings with policy-makers (Civic Engagement) and service providers, such as business people,

educators, and healthcare workers (Systemic Thinking). If she could disseminate her work through

publications and presentations, she would not only deepen her own understanding (Reflection) but

more directly provide valuable information to service agencies and others to apply in working with and

for these women (Practitioner).

Example No. 3. The Monthly Giver

Expanding Our Understanding (July 2012) Page 10

Many faculty members, students, and staff members sign up to make monthly donations to agencies,

such as United Way, through automatic payroll deductions. Given their busy schedules and

commitments, they look at this as making some kind of contribution to “the development of individuals,

institutions, and societies.” Does such an activity count as social change? Figure 4 below is an attempt

to map this activity.

One of the benefits of the mapping tool is that it is inclusive of a wide range of possible engagements in

social change. The monthly giver, like many others, is guided by a Humane Ethic and wants to act out of

compassion and care for the distressed and needy. She also understands that the organization she is

donating to is carefully managed, well informed, and handles donations responsibly, and she wants to

do something practical to support it (Practitioner). She also knows that her donation, because it is

combined with the donations of many others, can amount to a significant sum to support large-scale

projects in the community (Collaboration).

Figure 4. Web map of the monthly giver.

Example No. 4. Global Day of Service Participant

Expanding Our Understanding (July 2012) Page 11

During the annual Global Day of Service, Justin organized a small group of his co-workers to clean up the

road entrance to the town. This meant gaining permission from the town clerk, recruiting willing

workers, arranging for safety training, and equipping them with safety vests, gloves, and garbage bags.

Justin works full-time and is undertaking his studies part-time. He is also the father of three, and his wife

works full-time so he has a heavy load of responsibilities. He does not have a lot of spare time, but he

has committed the time to organize and prepare for this 1-day volunteer clean-up event.

Justin’s efforts are guided by an ethic of care for the environment (Humane Ethics) and are one means

through which he can apply his studies on the importance of protecting the eco-system in a practical

way (Practitioner). Partnering with the town clerk was mandatory in this case, but the Collaboration was

important for the safety of his team, and his recruiting efforts among his co-workers was an extension of

the Collaboration. In some senses, he served as an Advocate for the environment. The day following this

activity, he posted some thoughts on what the experience meant to him and his co-workers in a class

discussion forum (Reflection).

Figure 5. Web map of a Global Day of Service participant’s activity.

Example No. 5. Nurses for Women

Expanding Our Understanding (July 2012) Page 12

Claire is a member of a nurse’s organization working for an urban community offering

uncompensated services to more than 200,000 clients a year. One of her projects has involved

hiring a number of nurses who are certified to perform sexual assault examinations; this

expedites forensic examinations in pre-hospital agencies, such as emergency medical services

and fire departments. As a result, law enforcement can work with the victims of domestic

violence, abuse, or sexual assault on the spot and spare them the added trauma of going to an

emergency room. The program has seen a record number of perpetrators put behind bars—but

the work does not stop there. The organization helps the young women get back on their feet

in a number of ways, including connecting them with “Suits for Success” so they are dressed

suitably for job interviews, teaching them interview skills, getting them enrolled in school

programs, and helping them with grants and jobs, so that they can put what happened to them

as victims behind them.

Claire has multiplied her individual efforts with an eye toward lasting change in a number of

ways. She and her co-volunteers apply a systemic approach to addressing the needs of the

victims of sexual abuse: helping them gain the confidence, skills, opportunities, financial

support, and even the clothing to be successful in the job market so they can build success in

their lives (Systemic Thinking). She has increased her personal effectiveness by connecting with

other trained and certified nurses and with fire departments and emergency medical services

(Collaboration). She seems to have been moved to action by a Humane Ethic and has found a

way to use her skills and knowledge to help others (Practitioner).

Expanding Our Understanding (July 2012) Page 13

Figure 6. Web map of the nurses for women project.

This is only a small sample of social change projects, but if it is representative, it is possible to

discern some trends in social change activity at Walden. For instance, in the aggregate, Humane

Ethics and Collaboration are strong features but Civic Engagement and Systemic Thinking are

not. Such findings may be useful in determining whether all of the identified features should be

supported and, if so, how they can be supported in the curriculum and through guidance

offered by university leadership and students’ mentors.

©2016 Laureate Education, Inc. Page 1 of 3

RWRCOEL Diversity Proficiencies

1. Awareness of Self: The candidate demonstrates self-awareness of social
identities, cultural influences, biases, and prejudices that influence professional
practice.

2. Understanding the Learner: The candidate demonstrates awareness of

students’ prior learning, culture, family, and community values to improve
teaching and learning.

3. Learning Environment: The candidate creates a learning environment that

affirms individual differences, supports the diverse learning needs of all students,
and makes learning experiences meaningful and culturally relevant.

4. Planning, Instruction, and Assessment: The candidate designs, delivers,

and/or facilitates instruction and assessments that meet the diverse learning
needs of all students.

© 2016 Laureate Education, Inc. Page 2 of 3

5. Professional Practice: The candidate works collaboratively with others to create

equitable and inclusive professional practices that lead to positive social change.

Diversity Proficiencies and Indicators

1. Awareness of Self: The candidate demonstrates self-awareness of social
identities, cultural influences, biases, and prejudices that influence his/her
professional practice.

a. The candidate demonstrates awareness of the impact that culture, gender,

language abilities, and socio-economic status have on one’s ability to be an
effective educator.

b. The candidate articulates potential biases (e.g., prejudices and stereotypes)

based on his/her own experiences and societal inequalities.

c. The candidate articulates the impact that societal inequalities may have on

his/her relationships with students, colleagues, and families.

2. Understanding the Learner: The candidate demonstrates awareness of
students’ prior learning, culture, family, and community values to improve
teaching and learning.

a. The candidate demonstrates an understanding of students’ families, cultures,

and communities and uses this information as a basis for connecting
instruction to students’ experiences.

b. The candidate demonstrates an understanding of how students learn and
develop and provides a variety of learning opportunities adapted to the needs
of diverse learners that support intellectual, social, and personal development.

3. Learning Environment: The candidate creates a learning environment that

affirms individual differences, supports the diverse learning needs of all
students, and makes learning experiences meaningful and culturally
relevant.

a. The candidate creates learning experiences that make the content meaningful

and culturally relevant for all students.

b. The candidate creates a learning environment where students learn about,
understand, respect, and value individual differences.

© 2016 Laureate Education, Inc. Page 3 of 3

c. The candidate uses verbal and nonverbal communication skills that
demonstrate respect for and responsiveness to the cultural backgrounds and
differing perspectives of students and their families.

d. The candidate creates a positive learning environment that upholds the belief

that all students can learn.

4. Planning, Instruction, and Assessment: The candidate designs, delivers,
and/or facilitates instruction and assessments that meet the diverse
learning needs of all students.

a. The candidate develops instructional content that is adapted to individual

needs and supports, including the use of technology, to support students’
intellectual, social, emotional, and personal development.

b. The candidate incorporates cultural diversity, students’ prior learning

experiences, and the community context in instructional planning to improve
teaching and student learning.

c. The candidate considers performance data to select and use teaching

strategies that are sensitive to the diverse learning needs of all students.

d. The candidate designs instruction and selects assessments appropriate to
individual and group needs to minimize bias.

5. Professional Practice: The candidate works collaboratively with others to

create equitable and inclusive practices that lead to positive social change.

a. The candidate demonstrates effective reflection strategies to meet the diverse
learning needs of all students.

b. The candidate collaborates with colleagues, families, and community
members in intercultural contexts to meet the diverse learning needs of all
students.

c. The candidate advocates for positive social change by working collaboratively

with others for equity in educational practices.

d. The candidate interprets and shares student assessment data with families
using a culturally sensitive approach.

©2016 Laureate Education, Inc. Page 1 of 3

RWRCOEL Professional Dispositions

Professional Conduct

1. Ethical and Legal Conduct: The candidate demonstrates professionalism
as outlined by legal and ethical guidelines within the profession.

a. Demonstrates professional behavior as described in Walden’s Code of
Conduct

b. Demonstrates ethical behavior as described by professional codes of
ethics

2. Professional Obligations: The candidate meets professional obligations in

a responsible manner.

a. Maintains a strong record of attendance and punctuality, communicating in
advance the need for any absence or delay in meeting performance
expectations

b. Prepares for professional obligations and meets expected deadlines

© 2016 Laureate Education, Inc. Page 2 of 3

3. Professional Appearance and Demeanor: The candidate demonstrates
professional appearance and behaviors in the educational setting.

a. Maintains appropriate appearance through professional dress and
grooming

b. Approaches teaching and learning tasks with initiative, confidence, and
energy

c. Exhibits composure and self-control

d. Demonstrates flexibility in adapting to changing circumstances and
student needs

Professional Qualities

4. Professional Development/Growth: The candidate engages in ongoing
professional development and growth to improve professional practice.

a. Engages in continuous learning through participation in professional
development opportunities

b. Applies new ideas to professional practice based on existing data,
reflection, and intellectual curiosity

c. Engages in ongoing critical reflection of personal performance to improve

professional practice

5. Advocacy: The candidate advocates for fairness, equity, and social change
in the learning environment.

a. Displays empathy, fairness, persistence, problem-solving skills, and
appropriate risk-taking actions on behalf of others

b. Advocates for the social, emotional, physical, educational, behavioral, and
basic needs of others

c. Promotes positive social change to enhance educational opportunities and

promote student learning

6. Equity: The candidate demonstrates culturally responsive practices to
create an inclusive learning environment that is respectful of diverse
cultures, values, and beliefs of others.

a. Displays equitable treatment of others
i. Sets high expectations for all learners

© 2016 Laureate Education, Inc. Page 3 of 3

ii. Treats others with respect and dignity
iii. Recognizes individual differences in teaching and learning

b. Engages in culturally responsive practices in interactions with students,

families, colleagues, and communities

c. Creates learning environments that are inclusive; free of bias and
discrimination and respectful of diverse cultures, values, and beliefs

d. Engages families and other stakeholders in planning for individual success

Collaboration

7. Collaboration: The candidate works in collaboration with others to improve
student learning and advance the profession.

a. Builds partnerships and fosters relationships with stakeholders to improve
student learning and advance the profession

b. Collaborates with students, families, colleagues, and the community to
promote positive social change

c. Uses technology to enhance collaboration, strengthen partnerships, and

foster relationships with others to improve teaching and learning

Communication

8. Communication: The candidate uses effective verbal, nonverbal, and
technological communication techniques to foster active inquiry, improve
collaboration, and create positive interactions in the learning environment.

a. Actively and thoughtfully listens to others

b. Adjusts communication to meet the needs of individual learners and
changing circumstances

c. Asks probing, thoughtful questions to elicit meaningful responses

d. Conveys ideas in multiple ways using a professional tone

e. Acknowledges and respects ideas and/or feelings of others; makes others
feel welcome, valued, and appreciated in their communications

f. Utilizes technological tools to facilitate communication to improve student

learning and relationships with others

©2015 Laureate Education, Inc. 1

Technology Proficiencies

The technology proficiencies listed below describe the Riley College of Education’s expectations for
candidate knowledge, skills, and dispositions with respect to the use of digital tools and resources for
facilitating learning and communication. The proficiencies are grounded in the SAMR (Substitution,
Augmentation, Modification, Redefinition) Model. The SAMR Model provides a framework for
integrating technology into the learning environment. The development and performance of tasks
aligned to the technology proficiencies should incorporate the principles of the SAMR Model and
consider the integration of technology into assignments or activities with increasing levels of impact
on teaching and learning, from enhancement to transformation.

Enhancement Transformation

Substitution

Augmentation

Modification

Redefinition

Design of Learning Experiences and the Environment: Candidates 
design learning experiences and foster learning environments that 
integrate various technologies. 

Facilitation of Learning and Assessment: Candidates use 
technology to facilitate learning for a diverse population of 
students, colleagues, and other stakeholders. 

Communication and Collaboration: Candidates use digital media 
tools in communicating and working collaboratively with students, 
families, colleagues, and community stakeholders to improve 
and/or enhance student learning.

Professional: As lifelong learners, candidates improve their 
technology proficiency through collaboration, leadership, ethical 
practice, and additional professional development opportunities. 

https://www.commonsensemedia.org/videos/introduction-to-the-samr-model

© 2015 Laureate Education, Inc. 2

1. Design of Learning Experiences and the Environment: Candidates design learning
experiences and foster learning environments that integrate various technologies.

a. The candidate demonstrates how to evaluate technology and media resources for
quality, accuracy, and effectiveness to support the processes of content and skill
development.

b. The candidate demonstrates fluency using effective technologies to plan, coordinate,
organize, manage, and/ or supervise effective learning opportunities for all students.

c. The candidate demonstrates use of online research databases and research-based
practices in education to improve student learning, engagement, and outcomes.

2. Facilitation of Learning and Assessment: Candidates use technology to facilitate
learning for a diverse population of students, colleagues, and other stakeholders.

a. The candidate engages all students in exploring real-world issues and solving authentic
problems using digital tools and resources to improve and/or enhance student learning.

b. The candidate meets the diverse needs of all students by providing equitable access to
digital tools and resources.

c. The candidate uses appropriate technologies for assessment (administering
assessments, monitoring student progress, presenting assessment results, and
evaluating teachers and programs) to improve and/or enhance student learning.

d. The candidate models and promotes diversity, cultural understanding, and global
awareness by assisting students in the use of digital-age communication and
collaboration tools.

3. Communication and Collaboration: Candidates use digital media tools in
communicating and working collaboratively with students, families, colleagues, and
community stakeholders to improve and/or enhance student learning.

a. The candidate communicates relevant information and ideas effectively to students,
parents, and colleagues using a variety of digital age media and formats to improve
and/or enhance student learning.

b. The candidate evaluates a variety of professional communication tools to improve
collaboration with all stakeholders.

4. Professional: As lifelong learners, candidates improve their technology proficiency
through collaboration, leadership, ethical practice, and additional professional
development opportunities.

a. The candidate takes a leadership role in developing a shared vision of technology
infusion by collaborating with colleagues to promote effective educational practices.

b. The candidate demonstrates a commitment to continuous professional development by
reflecting on current professional research, legal issues, and ethical expectations to
model effective technology decision making and to enhance student learning.

c. The candidate advocates and practices safe, legal, and responsible use of technology
and digital-age communication tools.

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