College Instructors as Learning Managers: Span of Control as a Factor of Class Size in Education Carol McKiel Lane Community College
What Is Span of Control? • Ratio of manager to employees • Different institutions have identified a specific number of employees a manager can effectively supervise
Application of Span of Control • Emergency response • 1:8 supervisor to workers • Greater safety • Military • 1:5 team leader to soldiers • Prisons • 1:4 guard to inmates • 1:15 increase in violence • Education – elementary school • 1:12 principal to teachers • Wider span negatively impacts student outcomes (Mears, 2004; Meier & Bohte, 2003)
Why not span of control? In the interest of improving student outcomes… Many business practices applied in education.
If the ratio of manager to employee is so critical for positive outcomes... Why debate class size?
History of Span of Control Workplace in the Past Managers control employees’ behaviors Gulick (1937 ) identified most effective span of control ratio 1:10 3 Productivity Factors ImpactSize of Span of Control
Workplace in the Past Managers control employees’ behaviors More of any one factor = Fewer employees Factors impact ability to control 1. Training • Experience level of employees 2. Distance between the manager and employees • Physical distance requires more time 3. Diversity of Function • Different types of employee jobs • Different levels of employee skills
Today’s Workplace Managers do not control but engage with workersManagement theories are about collaboration • Change in management philosophy changed span of control • Management structures flattened • Increased span of control 1:30 • McGregor’s Theory X & Theory Y • X – authoritarian mgr thinks lazy employee • Y – collaborative mgr thinks capable employee • Collaboration = higher productivity • Herzberg’s Motivation Theory • Employee engagement = Job satisfaction = Productivity (Herzberg, 2003; McGregor, 1960)
Span of Control Is Now about Relationships • For employee satisfaction – • Managers need to work more closely with their employees • Employees state they want a relationship with their manager • Employees wanted: • Feedback • Guidance • Support • Emotional • Psychological (Doran et al., 2004; Shirey, 2006)
Span of Control and Employee Productivity 1 manager : 30 employees • redundant • non-skilled labor • 1 manager : 10 employees • complex thinking • problem-solving creative labor (Gittell, 2001;Hattrup & Kleiner, 1993; McManus, 2007)
Relationship with Employee • Impacts productivity • Small ratio: 10 employees • Problem-solve with employees • Help workers develop skills • Wide ratio: >10 employees • Monitor for compliance • - Discipline non-compliance • Difficult to meet each person’s needs (Gittell, 2001)
It takes time… • Develop one-on-one relationships • Complex problems require deeper discussion • Higher level skills need more guidance • Business recognizes the return on investment and willing to pay for a small span of control • Small span of control – 1:6.5 • Companies experience 20% growth rate • Median span of control – 1:8 • Companies have less than a 20% growth rate (Davison, 2003; Hattrup & Kleiner, 1997)
Higher Education • Large classes • 1:25 or more • 100 students/term • Difficult to address individual learning needs • Monitor for compliance • Information flows one way from instructor • One size fits all teaching method • Teach/learn in lower levels of Bloom’s taxonomy • Knowledge, comprehension, application • (Baxter Magolda, 2004; Leland & Kasten, 2002)
Higher Education • Large groups can be • effective method for • passing content to • millions of people.
Higher Education • Complex nature of today’s world • has shifted • educational • outcomes… • Higher level • skills needed.
Skills People Need to Develop in Higher Education • “People need to be able to use knowledge flexibly in different contexts.” • (Leland & Kasten, 2002, p. 72) • “Interaction and collaboration are now important in most workplaces, and are expected to be even more important in the future.” • (Livingston, 2010, p. 59)
Skill Developmentand Higher Ed • “The goal of school cannot simply be • dissemination, but rather, must be the • absorption of material.” • Livingston, 2010, p. 60
“Higher education focused on knowledge acquisition has trained students to be transitional knowers.” Baxter Magolda (as cited in Hunter, Laursen, & Seymour, 2007, p. 66)
Higher Education & Skill Development • We need graduates capable of complex thinking and creative problem-solving. • “If you expect someone to do something, you have to expect to teach them how.” • (Kuh et al., 2005, p. 66)
Relationships Between Faculty and Students Is Important for Skill Development • One-on-one relationships with faculty … • Students show significant gains in critical thinking “There is no substitute for periodic personal contact between students and faculty,”(Tinto, 1987, p. 167) (Hayes & Devitt, 2008)
The Discrepancy In the workplace creativity and problem-solving 1:10 In the classroom critical thinking and problem-solving 1:25 The ratio business recognizes as suitable for low-skilled, redundant labor
The Question • Why the discrepancy? • What is the nature of the work of managers and instructors? ?
Are There Commonalities in Managers’ and Instructors’ Work? Both take care of needs of people and help them develop.
Maslow’s theory explains the nature of human need and relationships. Applied in business and education
Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs 1. Physical • Lighting, temperature, and lunch 2. Safety – not just physical safety • Emotional security 3. Need to belong • Membership in a satisfying group 4. Self esteem • Personal value within the group 5. Self Actualized • Understanding of self • Context with others
Maslow’s Theory:commonality between business and education If elements of Maslow’s theory embedded in span of control Then possible support for span of control in education
Span of Control Literature • 5management functions related to Maslow’s Theory • In span of control practices… • Managers • a) provide motivation • b) promote communication • c) foster independence • d) build relationships • e) develop a collaborative work environment
Similarities in Education and Management LiteratureFoundation Theorists Vincent Tinto Leaving College 1987 George Kuh National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) Indiana University 2005 Frederick Herzberg Motivation-Hygiene Theory 2003 Douglas McGregor The Human Side of Enterprise Theory X and Theory Y Controlling vs Collaborative Management Practices 1960
Education and Management LiteratureShows Similarities Provide Motivation Faculty feedback motivates students to submit polished articles. Kuh Manager feedback focusing on improving employee competence improves motivation. Herzberg
Education and Management LiteratureShows Similarities Promote Communication Students identify that high quality interactions with faculty impact academic development. Kuh Robust discussions are important in order for managers and employees to clarify functions and tasks. McGregor
Education and Management LiteratureShows Similarities Build Relationships There is no substitute for periodic personal contact between students and faculty. Tinto Satisfying the human need to belong to a group increases employee satisfaction and results in higher productivity. McGregor
Education and Management LiteratureShows Similarities Foster Independence Instructors help students develop their potential by engaging them formally and informally. Tinto Managers should work closely with employees in order to help them construct job skills and promotion paths. Herzberg
Education and Management LiteratureShows Similarities Develop a Collaborative Environment Integrating students into the campus culture satisfies their need to belong. If this does not happen, students satisfy the need to belong somewhere else. Tinto People are interdependent in their work. When people work positively with each other, they are more satisfied about their jobs. McGregor
Similarities between management and instruction In the literature: within the 5 management functions
What About the Attitudes of Managers and Instructors? • Are they alike in their thinking of their work with people? • Do they have similar expectations? ?
The Research • Community college • 4 managers and 4 instructors • 4 women and 4 men • At least 5 years experience on the job • Good reputations of working well with others • Research Methods • Q method – study/compare people’s perceptions • Focus group – participants share ideas
Q Method • Allows the researcher to compare • participants’ attitudes about a topic. • Developed by William Stephenson in 1935 • Current Q Method Expert – Steven Brown • For more information about Q Method go to • qmethod.org
Q Method Is Not a Survey In a survey… What factors are important for improving schools? Strongly disagree Moderately agree Strongly agree • Participant A and • Participant B • 1. I think we should decrease class size. X • I think we should increase teacher qualifications. X • I think we should increase the number of days. X • Two people answer “strongly agree” for all statements. • The participants appear to value each statement the same. • The participants appear to share the same view.
Q Method Is Different From a Survey The researcher has a stronger tool to study and compare participants’ attitudes. • Participants compare each statement with every other statement • Rank orders the statements from “most agree” to “most disagree” • Only 1 statement can be “most agree”
Statements Sorted in Order of Preference • Only 1 statement can be “most agree”
Differences in people’s attitudes show up when they must decide on “most agree.” In the survey, participant A and B looked the same. Using Q Method, the researcher has a better understanding of the participants’ attitudes.
Agreement in all areas is unlikely • Significant if agreement exists.
Setting Up the Q Method • Step 1 – Develop the Statements • Use the literature from the field • Identify at least two themes
In the Study Comparing Managers and Instructors Attitudes • Theme 1 5 Management Functions of Span of Control a) provide motivation b) promote communication c) foster independence d) develop a collaborative work environment e) build relationships
In the Study Comparing Managers and Instructors Attitudes • Theme 2 McGregor’s Management Theory Theory X – Authoritarian Theory Y - Collaborative
Developing the Statements to Sort • Use the 2 themes to form a grid • 5 x 2 grid – 10 intersect cells Theory X (authoritarian) Theory Y (collaborative) providing motivation Motivation/authoritarian providing motivation Motivation/authoritarian Motivation/collaborative promoting communication fostering independence fostering independence fostering independence developing a collaborative work environment developing a collaborative work environment developing a collaborative work environment building relationships Relationships/collaborative building relationships