Publication Date

Summer 7-21-2015

Degree Name

Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT)

First Advisor

Steve Iams

Second Advisor

Dr. Susan Barduhn


This project has been very meaningful to me.

"Thank you" to my colleagues and my former students who participated. And "thank you" to my school, and especially our director, for her support.


The goal of this project was to apply systems theory, or more generally, systems thinking as a lens on the perceptions of teachers, students, and administrators who work together at an intensive English program (IEP). This goal necessitated a two-part project: a review of pertinent literature on systems theory and a limited qualitative study situated at the IEP. Sixteen participants, including seven teachers (more than half of the current faculty), two teacher/administrators, and seven students from different levels within the program, were invited to participate. The primary focus of the study was on participants’ awareness of and attitudes about two particular practices that are integral to the functioning of the school: assessment and feedback. In-depth interviews that centered on these two practices were utilized to gather the necessary qualitative data. This data was then analyzed to reveal topics and issues that were perceived by the participants to be of significance. Throughout the planning, execution, and analysis stages, the discipline of mental models served as a guiding principle. More generally, systems theory provided both a unique perspective and specific concepts that helped facilitate new, broadened understandings of the complex system known as the language school.


Adult and Continuing Education and Teaching | Bilingual, Multilingual, and Multicultural Education | Curriculum and Instruction | Educational Psychology | Higher Education and Teaching | Other Teacher Education and Professional Development | Social and Philosophical Foundations of Education