Você está na página 1de 24

BOSTON COLLEGE

Lynch School of Education


Department of Educational Administration and Higher Education

Program Higher Education Administration

REPUTATION IN AMERICAS GRADUATE SCHOOLS OF EDUCATION: A STUDY OF THE PERCEPTIONS AND INFLUENCES OF GRADUATE SCHOOL OF EDUCATION DEANS AND SCHOOL SUPERINTENDENTS REGARDING U.S. NEWS & WORLD REPORTS RANKING OF TOP EDUCATION PROGRAMS

PR EV

MARY S. NARDONE

Submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy

December 2009

IE
Dissertation by

UMI Number: 3380467

All rights reserved INFORMATION TO ALL USERS The quality of this reproduction is dependent upon the quality of the copy submitted. In the unlikely event that the author did not send a complete manuscript and there are missing pages, these will be noted. Also, if material had to be removed, a note will indicate the deletion.

PR EV

UMI 3380467 Copyright 2009 by ProQuest LLC. All rights reserved. This edition of the work is protected against unauthorized copying under Title 17, United States Code.

ProQuest LLC 789 East Eisenhower Parkway P.O. Box 1346 Ann Arbor, MI 48106-1346

IE

PR EV
Copyright MARY SHEPHERD NARDONE 2009

IE

REPUTATION IN AMERICAS GRADUATE SCHOOLS OF EDUCATION: A STUDY OF THE PERCEPTIONS AND INFLUENCES OF GRADUATE SCHOOL OF EDUCATION DEANS AND SCHOOL SUPERINTENDENTS REGARDING U.S. NEWS & WORLD REPORTS RANKING OF TOP EDUCATION PROGRAMS by Mary S. Nardone Dr. Ana M. Martinez-Alemn, Dissertation Chair

ABSTRACT This study explored the perceptions and influences of the respondents to the U.S. News & World Reports (USNWR) reputational survey for graduate schools of education (GSOEs). These respondents represent two unique stakeholder groups for graduate programs of education: GSOE deans and school superintendents. The existing literature regarding the USNWR rankings has been predominantly quantitative, with an emphasis on methodological problems with the rankings. This study employed mixed methods: quantitative analysis to determine the weight of the reputational surveys in the rankings, and qualitative to explore the perceptions of the raters of reputation for GSOEs. This study highlights several unique challenges in the ranking of GSOEs, including the multiple missions and widely varying programs across schools of education. In particular the rankings fail to distinguish between the GSOE predominant dual purposes of preparing researchers and preparing practitioners. The rankings may be contributing to the divide between research and practice in the academy.

PR EV

IE

This study confirms with the GSOE deans that the rankings do matter, on and off campus, influencing the public perception of their programs. At a weighting of 40%, as stated by USWNR, reputation carries the greatest weight of all categories of input variables in the rankings. In terms of the reputational survey respondent groups, this study finds a significant difference between their levels of engagement with the rankings. This study finds a lack of meaningful participation in the rankings by the superintendents, resulting in an input variable that is biased, methodologically flawed, and contributing to erroneous fluctuations in rank. In contrast, this study finds the GSOE deans are reluctant

business. The results indicate that the dean holds a critical role in the reputation management of their programs. These findings suggest that the rankings steer the role of the deanship toward an external focus, with an emphasis on publicizing the scholarship and scholars of the GSOE, to establish and maintain a degree of prominence among peer GSOE deans.

PR EV

IE

but active participants in the rankings. They are vested competitors in the rankings

Dedication

This is dedicated to my mother, Janice Marsh Shepherd. Thank you for your love and encouragement, and for always asking, How was school today?

PR EV
i

IE

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS I would like to thank the deans, associate deans, and school superintendents who participated in this study. Given the evident demands on your schedule, you were extremely generous with your time. I found your feedback candid and passionate. In particular, the GSOE deans were generally immediately receptive to scheduling an interview, which in itself offered much encouragement in my research. I also thank my dissertation committee for their counsel during this effort. Each member brought a distinct perspective on my research which was critical to its success. To my chair, Dr. Ana Martinez-Alemn, I appreciated your candor and your push. To Dr. Joseph Pedulla, you brought not only great quantitative advice, but a critical eye to detail. To Dr. Elizabeth Twomey, you introduced a key perspective from practice and a great enthusiasm. You were all accommodating of my teaching breaks, and my busy summer construction period. I am also grateful to many colleagues at Boston College, who offered and support, and staying in touch throughout this process. Finally, I thank my husband, Paul, for his never-ending enthusiasm for my efforts and his patience with my timeline. You have been there, cheering me, in this and other marathons, always encouraging me to keep going.

PR EV

encouragement and support. In particular I am indebted to my Comps Group for advice

IE
ii

Table of Contents

CHAPTER ONE: INTRODUCTION.......................................................................................................... 1 BACKGROUND AND STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM ..................................................................................... 1 PURPOSE OF THE STUDY .............................................................................................................................. 6 CONCEPTUAL FRAMEWORK......................................................................................................................... 6 RESEARCH QUESTIONS ................................................................................................................................ 8 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY .................................................................................................................... 10 OVERVIEW OF THE RESEARCH DESIGN ...................................................................................................... 11 DEFINITION OF TERMS ............................................................................................................................... 14 OVERVIEW OF THE STUDY ......................................................................................................................... 15 CHAPTER TWO: REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE........................................................................... 16 ORIGINS OF COLLEGE RANKINGS .............................................................................................................. 17 RISE OF COLLEGE RANKINGS .................................................................................................................... 19 U.S. NEWS & WORLD REPORT: AMERICAS BEST COLLEGES ..................................................................... 22 CRITICISMS OF THE U.S. NEWS & WORLD REPORT RANKINGS ................................................................... 24 Methodology and Validity .................................................................................................................... 24 Institutional Response .......................................................................................................................... 28 Philosophical Basis.............................................................................................................................. 31 INTERNATIONAL PERSPECTIVE .................................................................................................................. 33 AMERICAN SCHOOLS OF EDUCATION ........................................................................................................ 34 U.S. NEWS & WORLD REPORT: AMERICAS BEST GRADUATE SCHOOLS .................................................... 39 Law Schools ......................................................................................................................................... 40 Graduate Schools of Business.............................................................................................................. 43 Graduate Schools of Education ........................................................................................................... 44 STAKEHOLDERS: GSOE DEANS AND SCHOOL SUPERINTENDENTS ............................................................ 46 CONCEPTUAL FRAMEWORK....................................................................................................................... 48 Reputation and Reputation Management ............................................................................................. 49 Reputation Management in Higher Education .................................................................................... 52 Reputational Survey ............................................................................................................................. 54 CONCLUSION ............................................................................................................................................. 61 CHAPTER THREE: RESEARCH DESIGN ............................................................................................ 63 RESEARCH QUESTIONS .............................................................................................................................. 64 MIXED METHODS ...................................................................................................................................... 64 USNWR RANKINGS OF GSOES: OVERVIEW ............................................................................................. 66 PHASE I: ANALYSIS OF THE USNWR RANKINGS DATA ............................................................................. 68 Data Collection .................................................................................................................................... 69 Data Analysis ....................................................................................................................................... 73 PHASE II: FEEDBACK FROM RESPONDENT GROUPS TO THE USNWR REPUTATIONAL SURVEY .................. 78 GSOE Deans: Sampling....................................................................................................................... 80 GSOE Deans: Interview....................................................................................................................... 82 School Superintendents: Sampling ...................................................................................................... 83 School Superintendents: Survey ........................................................................................................... 84 Data Analysis ....................................................................................................................................... 86 INTEGRITY OF THE STUDY ......................................................................................................................... 87 EXAMINATION OF THE USNWR METHODOLOGY ....................................................................................... 89 CONCLUSION ............................................................................................................................................ 89

PR EV

IE
iii

CHAPTER FOUR: DATA ANALYSIS AND RESULTS ....................................................................... 91 INTRODUCTION .......................................................................................................................................... 91 PHASE I: ANALYSIS OF THE USNWR RANKINGS DATA ............................................................................. 93 2009 USNWR Data .............................................................................................................................. 94 THE REGRESSION MODELS ........................................................................................................................ 97 REPUTATION AND RANK ........................................................................................................................... 98 INFORMING PHASE II: DEANS SCORE AND SUPERINTENDENTS SCORE .................................................. 114 INFORMING PHASE II: EXTREME CASES .................................................................................................. 124 THE EARLIER RANKINGS 19962002 .................................................................................................... 125 PHASE I SUMMARY .................................................................................................................................. 126 PHASE II: FEEDBACK FROM RESPONDENT GROUPS TO THE USNWR REPUTATIONAL SURVEY ................ 127 DEANS AS RELUCTANT BUT ACTIVE PARTICIPANTS ............................................................................... 130 Significance of the USNWR Rankings................................................................................................ 132 Impacts on Decision Making ............................................................................................................. 135 Competition and Gaming ................................................................................................................... 136 SUPERINTENDENTS AS PARTICIPANTS AND NON-PARTICIPANTS ............................................................. 140 Superintendents: USNWR Methodology ............................................................................................ 140 Deans Perceptions RE: The Participation of Superintendents ......................................................... 141 Superintendent Survey ....................................................................................................................... 143 UNIQUE CHALLENGES AND CRITICISMS IN RANKING GSOES ................................................................. 151 Apples and Oranges: Multiple Purposes of GSOEs and Across GSOEs ........................................... 152 USNWR: Methodological Issues ........................................................................................................ 154 USNWR: Lack of Clarity of Purpose ................................................................................................. 158 REPUTATION: DEANS PERCEPTIONS ....................................................................................................... 159 The Reputational Survey: Deans Factors and Behaviors ................................................................. 159 The Reputational Survey: The Superintendents Role ....................................................................... 161 Influences on Reputation ................................................................................................................... 162 USNWR: GSOE Rankings vs. Program Specialty Rankings .............................................................. 164 SUMMARY ............................................................................................................................................... 167 CHAPTER FIVE: SUMMARY, DISCUSSION AND IMPLICATIONS............................................ 169 SUMMARY OF FINDINGS .......................................................................................................................... 169 DISCUSSION OF FINDINGS ........................................................................................................................ 172 The USNWR Model ............................................................................................................................ 172 Apples and Oranges ........................................................................................................................... 175 Dual Rankings: Research and Practitioner ....................................................................................... 179 Deans Interactions and Influence with USNWR ............................................................................... 183 Gaming .............................................................................................................................................. 187 Alternatives to the USNWR Rankings ................................................................................................ 188 Reputation .......................................................................................................................................... 191 IMPLICATIONS ......................................................................................................................................... 193 Superintendents.................................................................................................................................. 193 GSOE Deans ...................................................................................................................................... 195 Graduate Schools of Education (GSOEs) .......................................................................................... 199 U.S. News & World Report ................................................................................................................ 201 RELEVANCE TO THE LITERATURE ............................................................................................................ 203 LIMITATIONS OF THE RESEARCH ............................................................................................................. 205 SUGGESTIONS FOR FUTURE RESEARCH ................................................................................................... 206 CONCLUSION ........................................................................................................................................... 208

PR EV

IE
iv

APPENDIXES ........................................................................................................................................... 211 APPENDIX A: USNWR UNDERGRADUATE RANKINGSBEST COLLEGES (2008) ............................... 211 APPENDIX B: USNWR GSOE RANKINGSTOP EDUCATION PROGRAMS (2009)................................ 212 APPENDIX C: USNWR METHDOLOGY CHANGES FOR GSOE RANKINGS 1996-2010 .............................. 213 APPENDIX D: USNWR DATA NOT PUBLISHED 1996-2009 ..................................................................... 215 APPENDIX E: SAMPLE USNWR SURVEY OF SUPERINTENDENTS .............................................................. 216 APPENDIX F: SAMPLE USNWR SURVEY OF GSOE DEANS ...................................................................... 217 APPENDIX G: SAMPLE DATA USNWR TOP EDUCATION PROGRAMS (2009) ......................................... 218 APPENDIX H: INTERVIEW PROTOCOL: GSOE DEANS .............................................................................. 219 APPENDIX I: SURVEY INSTRUMENT: SCHOOL SUPERINTENDENTS ........................................................... 223 APPENDIX J: SUMMARY OF REGRESSION MODELS 2003-2010 ................................................................ 226 APPENDIX K: CORRELATIONS ACROSS USNWR INPUT VARIABLES ........................................................ 230 APPENDIX L: THEMES AND SUB-CODES DEFINITIONS ............................................................................. 232 APPENDIX M: SUMMARY OF EXTREME CASES ........................................................................................ 236 REFERENCES .......................................................................................................................................... 238

PR EV
v

IE

List of Tables and Figures


Table 1 Table 2 Table 3 Table 4 Table 5 Table 6 Table 7 Table 8 Table 9 Table 10 Table 11 Table 12 Table 13 Table 14 Table 15 Table 16 Table 17 Table 18 Table 19 Table 20 Table 21 Table 22 Figure 1 Figure 2 Figure 3 Figure 4 Figure 5 Figure 6 Regressions for Overall Score on Reputation Variables, 2003-2010 Regressions for Reputation and Research, 2003-2010 Regressions for All USNWR Variables, 2003-2010 Unique and Joint Contributions of USNWR Categories, 2003-2010 Correlations Across USNWR Variables, 2010 Factor AnalysisRotated Factor Loadings, 2003-2010 Factor AnalysisFactor Loadings Before Rotation, 2003-2010 Correlations: Deans Scores and Superintendents Scores, 2003-2010 F-test of Variances of Mean Scores Across the Years by GSOE, 2003-2010 Deans & Superintendents Score and Research Variables, 2003-2010 101 102 103 104 107 111 112 116 117 119 120

Annual Mean Scores Across GSOEs (Deans and Superintendents), 2003-2010 115 F-test of Variances of Mean Scores by Year, 2003-2010

Deans & Superintendents Score and Student Selectivity Variables, 2003-2010 122

PR EV

Strongest Deans Score Model, 2003-2010

IE
vi

Deans & Superintendents Score and Faculty Resources Variables, 2003-2010 121 123 124 129 131 147 149 177 178 5 5 13 73 92 175

Strongest Superintendents Score Model, 2008-2009

Representativeness of Sample of GSOE Deans

Themes and Sub-Code Mapping

Superintendent Responses RE: USNWR GSOE Rankings

Superintendent Responses RE: Superintendent Role in GSOE Rankings

Comparisons Across Four GSOEs

Comparison of Programs Across Four GSOEs Deans and Superintendents Reputation Scores (2009) Change in Reputation Score (2009 vs. 2008): Deans and Superintendents Graphic Model of the Research Design Graphical Representation of the USNWR Rankings Categories and Weights Graphical Representation of Analysis Graphical Representation of Categories and Weights

CHAPTER ONE: INTRODUCTION

Background and Statement of the Problem An article in the Boston Business Journal captures the obsession with college rankings, in particular the U.S. News and World Report (USNWR) annual rankings: The rankings have become, in a way, the educational equivalent of a stock pricethe boiling down of many factors, both real and perceived, into a single, perhaps overly simplified, number. And just as companies do what they can to

While the earliest academic quality rankings were buried in scholarly journals, the mass media has moved the college rankings to the newsstand. The annual college issue sells so many more copies than the regular monthly issues that one college president has referred to them as the swimsuit issues (D.S. Webster, 1992, p. 20). Scholars have soundly criticized the USNWR rankings in terms of methodology, validity, philosophical basis, and lack of transparency but the research has confirmed that the rankings do matter; there is substantial anecdotal and empirical evidence that the USNWR rankings have an influence on trustees, presidents, provosts, deans, and students (Dugan, 2006; Ehrenberg, 2003; Griffith & Rask, 2007; Hossler & Foley, 1995; Meredith, 2004; Monks & Ehrenberg, 1999b; Walleri & Moss, 1995). All of the evidence indicates that the rankings are here to stay and that the rankings are impacting policies and programs in colleges and universities. What started out as an innocuous consumer productaimed at undergraduate domestic studentshas become a policy instrument, a management tool,

PR EV

IE
1

raise their stock prices, universities labor to raise their rankings (Kladko, 2006).

and a transmitter of social, cultural and professional capital for the faculty and students who attend high-ranked institutions (Hazelkorn, 2008). The approach taken by USNWR in ranking institutions or graduate schools involves both subjective and objective measures, or indicators, of institutional quality. The U.S. News rankings system rests on two pillars. It relies on quantitative measures that education experts have proposed as reliable indicators of academic quality, and it's based on our nonpartisan view of what matters in education (Morse, 2009). These inputs are standardized about their means, weighted and summed, and then rescaled into an

select education experts, the selection of quality indicator variables, the weights applied to each, and thus the rankings themselves, are a USNWR construct of institutional quality. Widespread criticism of the USNWR rankings includes the charge that they are presented with a misleading implication of scientific basis and a false degree of precision, as well as a fundamental argument against the ordinal ranking of an unrankable phenomenonacademic quality. Included in the criticisms is a charge that the USNWR input measures of academic quality lack any defensible empirical or theoretical basis, as cited by the National Opinion Research Center (NORC), hired by USNWR to critique their methodology (National Opinion Research Center, 1997). The more objective measures include categories such as student selectivity, faculty resources, and financial resources. However, the most heavily weighted inputs are the subjective measuresthe reputational surveys that ask select peers and stakeholders to rate institutions. Critics of the rankings

PR EV

IE
2

overall composite score, along with an ordinal rank. While perhaps USNWR has involved

find that this subjective emphasis of the rankings and USNWRs approach to the reputational survey, contribute to an atmosphere that is similar to that of a beauty contest. For graduate schools, in particular for graduate schools of education (GSOEs), the USNWR rankings are the only game in town, and for these rankings, reputation is the prime driver of rank. This is because the foundation of these GSOE rankings is the reputational survey, which is assigned a weighting of 40% in the USNWR formula, though prior research has made the case that the actual weighting could be even greater (T.J. Webster, 2001). The reputational survey consists of a list of over 250 schools,

respondent on a scale of 1 (marginal) to 5 (outstanding), or DK (dont know), in terms of the overall academic quality of the graduate programespecially research quality (see sample USNWR surveys, Appendix E, Appendix F). Two unique stakeholder groups are the respondents to the GSOE reputational survey: deans of graduate schools of education and school superintendents. USNWR has stated that superintendents were selected for participation in the survey because superintendents either hire or have Ph.D.s or Ed.D.s, or people working for them in various capacities who are working on doctorate degrees (R. Morse, personal communication, November 12, 2007). USNWR published a response rate of 49% for deans and 23% for superintendents in 2006thus these reputation scores reflected the opinions of over 250 deans and approximately 150 school superintendents. The evidence suggests that these 400 survey respondents have a significant influence in the resultant rankings.

PR EV

IE
3

organized alphabetically by state, with each school to be marked by the survey

USNWR reports a score for each GSOE for each of these stakeholder groups, thus the reported Deans Score represents the mean of the scores for this GSOE by deans responding to the survey, and the reported Superintendents Score represents the mean of the scores for this GSOE by superintendents responding to the survey. However, it is unknown how many dean or superintendent scores are reflected in the mean Deans Score or Superintendents Score for any particular GSOE because while USNWR reports the general response rate from the two groups, they do not report how many deans or superintendents rated any specific GSOE. Thus while there may have been 400 survey

involved in rating any particular GSOE. In particular, the low response rate of superintendents to the reputational survey provokes a question for GSOE deansdoes the mean Superintendents Score for my institution, weighted at 15% in the overall rankings, reflect the opinions of a hundred superintendents, a handful of superintendents, or a single superintendent?

An initial inspection of the recent reputation scores indicates two immediate differences between the stakeholder groups. First, one observes a difference between the mean Deans Score and the mean Superintendents Score across the top 50 GSOEs. This difference is indicated in Figure 1 for the 2009 rankings. Second, one observes that the change in reputation score by the deans for each GSOE, year to year, appears more stable than the change in reputation by the superintendents for each GSOE, year to year. This is indicated in Figure 2 for the change in reputation score from the 2008 to the 2009 rankings.

PR EV

IE
4

respondents to the USNWR survey in 2006, it is unknown how many respondents were

Deans' Scores and Supts' Scores (2009)


Deans Supts

Reputation Score

2.5

11 13 15 17 19 21 23 25 27 29 31 33 35 37 39 41 43 45 47 49 GSOE Rank

Figure 1: Deans and Superintendents Reputation Scores (2009)


Change in Deans' Score and Supts' Score (2009 vs 2008) Supts' Deans'

0.7

0.5

Change in Reputation Score

0.3

0.1

PR EV
1 5 9 13 17

IE
21 25

W
29

-0.1

33

37

41

-0.3

-0.5

-0.7

GSOE Rank (2008)

Figure 2: Change in Reputation Score (2009 vs. 2008): Deans and Superintendents

Thus, it appears that the deans and the superintendents may have different opinions of the quality of these professional schools. They may base their assessment of quality on different variables, given their different perspectives. They also may have different levels of commitment to the rankings (based on the low response rates reported by USNWR for the superintendents) such that there is a significant difference in sample size impacting the comparability of these scores. However, missing from the existing literature is any research on the perceptions of these two stakeholder groups in this survey process, in terms of their perceptions of the rankings, their concepts of academic quality

survey, and their understandings of their role in the assessment and ranking of GSOEs. Purpose of the Study The purpose of this study is to explore the perceptions and influences of the respondents to the U.S. News and World Reports (USNWR) annual reputational survey for graduate schools of education (GSOEs). The respondents represent two unique stakeholder groups for graduate schools of education: GSOE deans and school superintendents.

The framework for the study involves the theory of organizational reputation and reputation management. A review of the literature confirms that organizational reputations do matter; a positive reputation providing for competitive advantage, in particular for knowledge-based institutions such as universities. Indeed, it has been observed that a universitys reputation is its greatest asset. The rankings, in turn, have

PR EV

Conceptual Framework

IE
6

and institutional reputation, differences in their approach to and interest in the annual

demonstrated a significant impact on reputation. Of particular importance to the graduate schools ranked by USNWR is that multiple constituencies are included in the reputational survey, such as academic deans and judges (for schools of business), or academic deans and school superintendents (for schools of education). Vidaver-Cohen (2007) observes that a schools reputation among its key stakeholders may vary considerably, depending on the degree to which these different groups perceive a school has fulfilledtheir expectations for quality (p. 286). The institutions, in turn, respond to the rankings by taking actions to maintain or improve their positional standing, a form of reputation

The review of the existing reputation literature will outline two distinct definitions for the concept of reputation: reputation as prominence (an awareness, or visibility); and reputation as perceived quality (an assessment, or judgment). While over the years USNWR has changed the name of this category in the rankingsfrom reputation in 1996 to quality assessment starting in 2003, the approach to the survey remains unchanged. Thus the category remains a reputation construct, as supported by the literature. It is unknown if the survey respondents interpret this as reputation as prominence, or reputation as perceived quality. The concepts of prominence versus perceived quality, reputation management as asset management, and differences in stakeholder expectations, inform the inquiry with the GSOE deans and school superintendents.

PR EV

IE
7

management.

Research Questions There are three major research questions, and related sub-questions. One objective of the research is to identify, and quantify, the actual role that the reputational survey plays (based on respondents scores) in the USNWR GSOE rankings. As noted previously, prior research of the undergraduate rankings indicates that the reputational aspect significantly drives the overall ranking of the institutions. Thus the first research question: Q1. What is the significance of the reputational survey in U.S. News & World

Another objective of the research is to explore the behaviors and perceptions of the survey respondentsthe GSOE deans and school superintendents. Specifically the

what purpose the rankings might serve, and their perceptions about the reputational survey component of these rankings. More specifically, the study aims to understand their level of awareness of the reputational survey, their understanding of their impact on the rankings, their level of responsiveness to the survey, and their methods and approach to responding to the survey. Why do they, or do they not, respond to the survey? Do they personally respond to the survey? Do they consult with other colleagues? An important emphasis of the research will be on exploring the differences in perceptions and behaviors between these two stakeholder groups. These objectives are captured in the second research question:

PR EV

research will explore their perceptions about the GSOE rankings themselves, in terms of

IE
8

Reports annual ranking of Graduate Schools of Education (GSOEs)?

Q2. How do GSOE deans and school superintendents differ in their perceptions about, responsiveness to, approach to, and behavior regarding, the reputational survey in U.S. News & World Reports annual ranking of GSOEs? Finally, this research will explore the concept of reputation with these survey respondents. The literature (Barnett, Jermier, & Lafferty, 2006; Rindova, Williamson, Petkova, & Sever, 2005) indicates that reputation is generally conceptualized as either prominence or as perceived quality. This research asks the two stakeholder groups what forms the basis of their rating of institutions when responding to the USNWR survey. Do they consider the quality of the program graduates? Do they consider the quality and production (output) of faculty research? Do they consider the glossy promotional

consider student selectivity? Do they consider the published rankings themselves? This will explore whether this important ranking category captures reputation as either prominence, or perceived quality. Again, an important emphasis is the examination of the differences between the two stakeholder groups. Thus, the third research question: Q3. How do these two unique stakeholder groups differ, when rating the GSOEs, in their conceptual definition of reputationreputation as prominence, or reputation as perceived quality? This study does not join the active debate over the best indicators or measures of quality, but instead accepts reputation as an asset of value for the university and

PR EV

materials that cross their desk? Do they consider the level of sponsored research? Do they

IE
9

explores the perceptions and behaviors of two stakeholder groups involved in the rating of academic reputation. Significance of the Study The significance of the study rests primarily on the contribution of important feedback to the critical stakeholders of GSOE programs, regarding the USNWR rankings of these programs. Contributing to the significance is the scope of the field of education, including the level of enrollments in GSOEs, the role of GSOEs in the American education system, and the widespread commentary about education schools. More than

of the total U.S. graduate student enrollment, with more than 100,000 applicants to GSOEs annually according to the Council of Graduate Studies (CGS) 2006 Survey of Graduate Enrollment (Council of Graduate Studies, 2007). GSOEs have an important role in preparing educators and education leaders. In particular, research-oriented education schools prepare most of the faculty members who staff the teacher preparation programs in the country; they produce most of the research about education; and they prepare most of the educational researchers. As a result of playing these roles, researchoriented ed schools exert an enormous impact on how we carry out teacher education and about how we think about teaching, learning, educational reform, and educational policy (Labaree, 2004, p. 13). Yet, a review of the literature confirms enduring criticism of, and a troubling lesser status for, the education school. As Labaree (2004) observes, people frequently complain about professional education in a wide range of fields other than teaching, but they dont generally adopt this same tone of scorn (p. 4).

PR EV

IE
10

300,000 graduate students are enrolled in graduate education programs, the largest share

Of equal significance, the study provides an important contribution to the literature, in terms of filling an evident gap in the research regarding the perceptions and behaviors of survey respondents to the USNWR reputational survey for the GSOE rankings. It will also offer a contribution to the reputation literature which is currently heavily concentrated in the field of business management. For the higher education leaders within GSOEs, who are charged with strategic management of their programs reputational capital (Fombrun, 1996), the study provides a new perspective from peer academic leaders. Of course, the study also contributes to the ongoing debate regarding the relevance and validity of the graduate school rankings, specifically by bringing the GSOE deans into the debate more deliberately given that the literature indicates a gap in their

(Corley & Gioia, 2000; Dahlin-Brown, 2005; Sauder & Epseland, 2006). Finally, for USNWR, this study provides valued feedback regarding their methodology, in particular their selection of stakeholder groups for the reputational survey, their sampling approach and structure of the reputational survey, and the weighting of these reputation scores. Overview of the Research Design

The design is an exploratory mixed methods study, involving quantitative secondary data analysis of the published USNWR annual rankings data, and a primarily qualitative study of the stakeholder groups surveyed by USNWR for reputation opinion. The rationale for the mixed methods design is to accommodate the readily available quantitative rankings data, and yet to pursue an in-depth understanding of the perceptions

PR EV

input when compared to the deans of graduate schools of business or schools of law

IE
11

and behaviors of the reputational stakeholder groups. The mixed methods design also provides for: triangulation (the convergence of results from different methods), complementarity (the results from one method illustrating the results of the other method), and development (the results from one method informing the other method), as outlined by Greene, Caracelli, and Graham (1989, p. 259). The study is somewhat sequential, with the first phase a purely quantitative secondary analysis of the USNWR published rankings data, and the second phase employing mixed methods, using both survey and interview, to gather feedback from the respondent groups to the annual

The intent of the first phase is to demonstrate and quantify the significance of the reputational survey in the actual rankings, answering the first research question, and to

explore the other two research questions regarding stakeholders perceptions and behaviors regarding the reputational survey, and their conceptualization of reputation. Based on the response rates to the reputational survey as reported by USNWR, the deans have demonstrated a significantly greater commitment to these rankings than the superintendents, perhaps indicating that the superintendents may be similarly disinterested in the present study. Thus, my approach toward each stakeholder group, in terms of sampling and data collection, is tailored to their apparent investment in these rankings, as well as my access to these individualsin-depth interviews with a sample of GSOE deans, and a brief electronic survey of a sample of superintendents. The complete research design, including the design rationale, is outlined in detail in chapter three.

PR EV

inform the research instruments for the qualitative inquiry. The second phase will then

IE
12

USNWR reputational surveyschool superintendents and GSOE deans.

Figure 3 represents a graphic model of the research design.

QUAL
quan

GSOE Rankings USNWR

Conceptual Framework REPUTATION REPUTATION MGMT

SURVEY SURVEY

IE
Deans

W
INTERVIEW

LITERATURE REVIEW

College Rankings/USNWR Rankings ReputationQuality or Prominence Reputation Management GSOEs Deans/Superintendents

Figure 3: Graphic Model of the Research Design (Note: mixed methods sequential design elements depicted here based on R.B. Johnson & Onwuegbuzie, 2004, pp. 21-22)

PR EV

Superintendents

13