Education As a Management Process: An Introduction to a System Approach to Education

The material in this chapter is Intended to give you an “over¬view” of the tools for planning and their relation to the process we have already called a “system approach” to education. The tools for educa¬tional planning include needs assessment and system analysis. Needs assessment is a type of discrepancy analysis which helps to tell us where we are now and where we should be going. System analysis builds from that base, and identifies the requirements for whatever action is indicated. The exact nature of each step and its associated tool, how the tool works, and what it is good for, may not become altogether clear until each tool has been explained (see following chapters); but this brief introduc¬tion should furnish an overall picture of the tools for educational system planning.
Education itself may be viewed as a process for providing learners with (at least minimal) skills, knowledge, and attitudes so that they may live and produce in our society when they legally exit from our educa¬tional agencies. The “product” of education is no less than the achieve¬ment of these required minimal skills, knowledges, and attitudes. The behavior and achievements of learners as they function as citizens de¬termines whether the “product” has been achieved.
It would seem useful to conceive of the educator—an administrator, a counselor, a teacher, a planner, or a curriculum specialist—as a man¬ager of the learning process. The management of learning involves ascer¬taining learner needs, identification of problems, and then the application of a process or a number of procedures to fashion an educational system responsive to the identified needs and requirements. The product of this management process, then, is identical to the product of education: the required skills, knowledge, and attitudes of learners.
Management and Accountability
The job of an educational manager is to plan, design, and implement an efficient and effective learning system, responsive to the needs of the learner and of society. Successful management requires, as Lessinger (1970a) points out, an accountability for the outcomes of the system. Out¬comes are specified in measurable performance terms, and achievement of these outcomes is openly determined so that required revision and re¬design may take place. Of course the educational agencies of our nation cannot be completely responsible for all the behavior of all the children. but they are usually charged with the responsibility of educating the young. Interacting variables of the home, the neighborhood, the culture, and the society must be accounted for in educational design, for regard¬less of our pleas we are still held accountable. When we try to avoid this accountability, other agencies are either selected or created to per¬form educational functions.
Since the educator of today Is considered to be accountable for his efforts, he must state his goals, objectives, and procedures openly. He must begin to speak to taxpayers and legislators In terms of learning outcomes such as reading ability and occupational skills, rather than talking only about processes for education such as differentiated staffing and programmed instruction. The outcomes of educational efforts are becoming a matter of public record and public concern. The processes and tools ‘,)r education should be selected by the professional educator only after the partners in education—the citizens who pay the bills, the learners, and the professional educator—have agreed on what should be done, why, and to what extent.
Management of education may be viewed as the process for the achievement of required outcomes. Cook (1968b), for example, identifies two overall management functions: a planning subsystem and a control subsystem. MacDonald (1969) indicates that a five-part process of edu¬cational management aimed at reaching predefined objectives would include: planning, organization, staffing, direction, and control.
The management of education is defined here as a six-step process that Includes:
1. Identification of priority needs and associated problems
2. Determining requirements to solve the problem and identify possible solution alternatives for meeting the specified needs.
3. Selecting solution strategies and tools from alternatives.
4. Implementing solution strategies, including the management and control of the selected strategies and tools.
5. Evaluation of performance effectiveness based on the needs and the requirements identified previously.
6. Revision of any or all previous steps (at any time in the proc¬ess) to assure that the educational system is responsive, effective, and efficient.
These six steps, which may be considered a problem-solving process, form the basic process model for a system. approach to education. This process model, or related variations, have been delineated by Corrigan and Kaufman (1965, 1966, 1967, 1968), Lehmann (1968), and Carter (1969). It is a process for designing an overall educational system to achieve required outcomes based on needs.
Kaufman (1968) summarizes work conducted over a number of years with Corrigan by attempting to define such a system approach in terms of a generic problem-solving process. Using an example of solving a problem such as X + 1 10, a six-step process model was demonstrated which was a self-correcting process for identifying and solving problems. Other examples of this derivation could be used
which assembling a jigsaw puzzle is subjected to this treatment). Success-ful management of education is possible with the use of such a system approach. It requires that interacting variables be formally considered in design and that outcomes be evaluated and necessary revisions made on the basis of performance. It is a planning, implementation, and control process requiring that the dynamics of educational management be con¬ducted on a logical and orderly basis which can be evaluated, and that the accountable agent is the educator and his educational system.
A Description of a System Approach as a Design Process
If it is true that educational management may be conceived of as a problem-solving process that includes planning, design, implementation. control, evaluation, and revision, then a system approach seen as a design process may be a truly useful tool of educational managers/administrators (Kaufman, 1970b). Thus teachers become learning managers; adminis¬trators become educational managers.
Following is a brief discussion of the basic six steps of such a man¬agement process model: the six steps are grouped into two units: problem Identification and problem resolution.
Problem Identification
Step 1–identify problems from documented needs: Earlier, educa¬tional needs were defined as measurable discrepancies between a current situation and a required or desired situation. An example of such a need (strictly hypothetical) might be:
Learners in the Egge School District have a mean reading score of 32nd percentile and a standard deviation of 7 on the Utopian Valid Test of Reading Achievement. The district school board has required that the learners perform at the 50th percent;!– or better with a standard deviation not to exceed 5 on the Utopian Valid Test of Reading Achievement before June 13.

This example shows a measurable discrepancy between “what Is” and “what should be,” namely, of a mean score difference of 18 and a standard deviation of 2. This stating of needs in measurable performance terms [such as suggested by Mager (1961), Popham (1966), and/or Smith (1964)) is a critically important feature of a system approach, since it provides a tangible, quantified starting referent for the design of a responsive educational system. A statement of need describes outcome gaps and therefore must be free of any solutions or “how-to-do-its.”
Educational management using a system approach starts with In assessment of educational needs. The importance of starting system design from documentable, needs cannot be overemphasized—it prevents the selection of solutions before the identification and specification of problems. (Needs assessment is discussed in detail in Chapter 3.) Thus the first step of an educational management process called a system ap-proach is to identify problems based on ‘documented needs. These prob¬lems should be stated in measurable, performance terms.
Step 2—determine solution requirements and solution alternatives: The needs assessment process has identified discrepancies for resolution on the basis of priority and has provided overall requirements for an educa¬tional system. These overall requirements serve as the “mission objective and performance requirements” for system design. By comparing this statement of the problem with the situations and outcomes currently ex¬perienced, the system planner can find out where he is going and how to tell when he has arrived.
Having used the statement of needs to describe both the current situation and the success they seek, the educational manager and the educational system planner must decide on the requirements to solve the problems they face. Using educational “system analysis,” one can de¬termine system requirements and possible solution strategies and tools In layers or levels of details from the most general to the most specific.
This management step does not select how to solve the problem(s), but rather determines what is to be done and what alternative strategies and tools are available to accomplish each requirement. Selection of the “hows” occurs in the next system approach step.
The tools of educational system analysis include:
1. Mission analysis.
,2. Function analysis.
3. Task analysis.
4. Methods–means analysis.

These tools, described in greater detail in Chapters 4 through 7, form a process of determining requirements for educational system design and their feasibility, as well.
The system analysis process, a key tool used In this problem-sowing Process, is, designed to determine the feasible- whats” for.. system, planning design by analyzing requirements and .Identifying possible alternatives in successive levels of increasing detail;
Let’s take a closer look at these tools for system analysis, for each contribute a little more to the determination. of (1) what ‘ is require (61.tq meet. the identified need (gap), (2) what; alternatives are available, to achieve each requirement. and (3) what the advantages and disadvantages are of each alternative solution possibility.
First, the tools for ‘determining the requirements for getting from where we are to where we should be are mission analysis, function analysis, and task analysis. All three help us to ascertain what is to be done to meet the need, but not how. The mission analysis tells us about requirements for the total problem. function analysis tells about more detailed aspects of each part of the total problem, and finally, task analysis breaks the problem down into the smallest units we will require for planning. The use of these three tools has been likened to looking through a microscope with several lenses of increasing magnification (Corrigan and Kaufman, 1966). The fir-4 lens (mission analysis) gives us the big picture, the second lens (function analysis) shows us a smaller part of the total problem in greater detail, and finally, the last lens we use (task analysis) gives us the exact detail of every part we saw In function analysis.
After we have Identified all the parts of this system, we can identify possible methods and means (or strategies and tools) for each of the requirements we have unearthed during mission, function, and finally, task analysis—we match requirements against possible solutions and note the relative advantages and disadvantages of each so that we can later pick the best ones for solving our problem.
As we look at the individual tools presented in this chapter, and as we see them again in greater detail in the following chapters, think of them as peeling back layers of an onion—we go deeper and deeper into the “heart” as we go, and find out more about how the whole is put together.
Mission analysis:’ Proceeding from the needs assessment and prob¬lems delineation, the mission analysis states the overall goals and meas¬urable performance requirements (criteria) for the achievement of system outcomes. These required outcome specifications are closely related to the previously identified needs. The mission objective and its associated Performance requirements state the appropriate spe6flcations for the system being planned and designed.
Since, as we know, an educational system design procedure must take the planner from where he is to where he is to be, the next part of mission analysis is the statement of a management plan (called a mission profile) showing the “major” milestones or the central pathway for solving a given problem. An example of such a management plan, a possible mission profile for preparing instructional materials (if the mission Is just that), is presented in Fig. 2.2.’
It is interesting to note that the overall process model for a system approach may also be shown as a mission profile. Such a profile, containing a management plan for identifying and solving problems in a logical, orderly manner (or system approach), may be reviewed in Fig. 2.3.”Flow charts” like those in Figs. 2.2 and 2.3 provide a tool for displaying (or describing) a’ system and its components and subsystem relationships in a simple, “at-a-glance” format. A flow chart, which identifies functions (or things to be accomplished) and their interrelations, may be good by following the solid lines and connecting arrows and by noting the order of the numbers. (Details of flow chart construction and interpretation are presented in Chapter 5.)
Mission analysis, then, Is the system analysis step that tells (1) what lo be achieved (2) what criteria will be used to determine success, and what are the steps (functions) required to move one from the current situation to the desired state of affairs. The steps and tools of mission analysis are:
Functions Tools
1. What is the system to accomplish 1. Mission objective and performance what criteria will be used to de- requirements.
2. What are the basic steps or mile 2. Mission profile.
required to get one from where one
is to where he should be?

Function analysis : The mission profile has provided the basic function or milestones, that delineate the major “things” that must be performed. The next part of an educational system analysis is to identity define what is to be done to get each one of the milestones in the profile accomplished.
Function analysis is the process for determining requirements and sub functions for accomplishing each element in the mission profile. As it may be considered a vertical expansion of the mission profile. Again. is was true for the mission objectives, each function in the profile will have performance requirements, and a miniature mission profile may be constructed to describe the functions that will get one from where he is to the accomplishment of each mission profile func-tion. This increasingly detailed analysis of functions and sub functions Is illustrated in Figure 2.4, which depicts a hypothetical function analysis of a mission profile function of “identify problem the first function in the generic system approach process model.
Note that each level of a function analysis carries a number identify¬ing the level of analysis; function analysis, furthermore, may consist of several levels.
Task analysis: Task analysis is the arbitrary end-point of the analysis of “what is to be done” in a system analysis. It differs from’ mission and function analysis only in degree, not in kind.
The vertical expansion, or analysis, is continued through the func¬tion level until “units of performance” are Identified (rather than collec¬tions of things to be done which are, again arbitrarily, called “functions”). The identification of tasks’ and their ordering is the last “breaking-down” step of an educational system analysis.
Methods–means analysis:’ Recalling that an educational system analysis is a tool for determining feasible “whats” for problem solution and that the second step in a system approach to education is “Deter¬mine Solution Requirements and Solution Alternatives,” let us look at the remaining step of a system analysis—the identification of possible meth¬ods and means (or strategies and tools) for achieving each of the per¬formance requirements or group of performance requirements.
The methods–means analysis may be conducted after mission, func¬tion, and task analyses have been completed, or it may be conducted in parallel with each of them as the analysis of additional requirements progresses from level to level. Fig. 2.5 shows a “process diagram” for conducting a methods–means analysis in such a parallel (or on-going) fashion.
A methods–means analysis identifies possible strategies and tools available for achieving each performance requirement or family of per¬formance requirements and additionally lists the relative advantages and disadvantages of each for later selection in the next system approach step.
Methods–means analysis, like the other educational system analysis steps, determines what is to be done (what possibilities exist In the case of methods–means analysis) and not how it is to be accomplished.
System Analysis Summary
The steps aid tools of an educational -system analysis determine the feasible “whats” of problem solution. The tools of analysis and syn¬thesis are used in determining requirements for system design. Again referring to the generic process model for educational management utilizing a system approach, needs assessment and system analysis deal with “what,” and the balance of the model is concerned with “how.” Fig. 2.6 shows the relation between educational system planning (needs assessment and system analysis) [what] and system synthesis [how] for the overall design-process model, along with the interrelations among the various steps and tools of system analysis.
Restating the system analysis process. Fig. 2.7 displays questions to be answered in an educational system analysis and relates these to the steps of an educational system analysis (Kaufman, 1968).
Problem Resolution
Step 3—select solution strategies from alternatives: This third problem-solving step begins the “how-to-get-it-done” portion of the system approach process. Here the appropriate tools and strategies for achieving the various requirements are selected. Frequently a choice criterion of “cost-benefit” is used, that is, the selection from among alternatives that which will at least achieve the minimal requirements at the lowest cost. All too frequently, educators begin the system design procedure at this point–without the specific delineation of problems and requirements—and select the alternative methods and means on the basis of professional judgment or on a mere assumption of the problems and the requirements.
Selecting methods and means from alternatives requires that the various identified functions and tasks be allocated to (1) people, (2) equipment, and/or (3) people and equipment in combination.
Selection must be made on the basis of the system as a whole, noting the interactional characteristics of the various requirements of the system. Frequently tools of modeling and simulation are utilized to determine the most effective and efficient mean for meeting the requirements. By simulation, different tools and strategies can be “tried out” in a fashion that will not compromise the, current, on-going educational activity.
Step 4—implement solution strategy(ies): It is at the fourth system approach step that the products of planning and selection are actually accomplished. The methods and means are obtained, designed, adapted, or adopted. A management and control subsystem is developed to assure that everything will be available and utilized as required and that proper data will be collected to determine the extent to which the system is functioning as required. The system is put into operation, including all the complexities of utilization and acquisition of people, equipment, learners, facilities, budgets, and the many other factors necessary for a properly functioning educational system. Frequently network-based man¬agement techniques such as PERT (Program Evaluation Review Tech¬nique) and CPM (Critical Path Method) are quite useful in the management control of system Implementation.
Step 5—determine performance effectiveness: Data are collected concerning both the process and the products of the system during and after the system’s performance. Against the requirements established in the needs assessment and the detailed determination of requirements obtained from the system analysis, performance of the system is com-pared with the requirements. Discrepancies are noted between actual system performance and the performance requirements. This provides data on what is to be revised and thus gives diagnostic information that will permit valid system revision.
Step 6–revise system as required: ‘ Based on the performance of the system as indicated by the performance data, any or all previous sys¬tem steps may be modified and z system redesign job accomplished it necessary. This self-correctional feature of a system approach assures constant relevance and practicality. An educational system is never considered to be complete, for it must be constantly evaluated in terms of:
1. Its ability to meet the needs and requirements it se, out to respond to.
2. The continued appropriateness of its original needs and re-quirements. Thus we must have not only internal consistency and performance, but constant checking of needs and requirements to assure external validity as well.
Some Assumptions
A system approach as described here is nothing more than an appli¬cation of logical problem solving that allows the educator to plan and manage relevant and practical educational outcomes. It requires that needs be formally Identified and documented, and it starts the manage¬ment process from a measurable referent. It then proceeds to identify requirements for meeting needs and identifies possible strategies and tools before the solution strategies and vehicles are actually selected. After the requirements and alternatives have been identified, the possible alternatives are selected, obtained, implemented, evaluated, and revised. A system approach is thus a self-correcting management process.
This paradigm of a system approach to education is a design process that is intended to be logical, orderly, systematic and self-correcting. It requires that the planner/analyst be open and objective and that only valid data be used in the planning, implementation, and evaluation. The follow¬ing assumptions (Kaufman. 1970b) are included:
1. Needs can be identified and ultimately stated in measurable terms.
2. Human beings learn, and the type of learning opportunities and stimuli provided them can determine the directionality, at least, of this learning
3. A systematic approach to educational problem solving will result in effectiveness and efficiency measurably greater than any other presently available process yields.
4. Attitudes and behaviors can be specified in measurable terms, at least by indicators of the classification of the behavior required.
5. It is better to try to state the existence of something and attempt to quantify it than it is to proclaim it as non measurable and leave its existence and accomplishment still in question.
6. There is frequently a difference between hope and reality.
7. Teaching does not necessarily equal learning.
8. Educational areas that seem to defy quantification in system design offer prime areas for efforts In educational research.
9. A self-correcting system approach has greater utility than an open loop process for achieving responsive education.
10. No system or procedure is ever the ultimate system. A system approach, like any other tool, should be constantly challenged and evaluated relative to other alternatives and should be revised or rejected when other tools prove more responsive and more useful.

If an educational manager desires to plan and design an education system “from scratch” without prejudging the adequacy of the current system, this model of a system approach can be a valuable tool—it does not automatically imply that the entire current system is wanting, and thus special precautions must be taken to assure that those portions of the educational system which are meeting the requirement3 are not dis-carded in the change process.
A system approach to education is a potentially useful tool for the educator who is willing to make the assumption that the overall job of an educational manager/administrator is to identify and solve educa¬tional problems in the most relevant and practical manner possible.
System Analysis Summary
System analysis, as we have noted, consists of a set of planning tools that tells what is to be done to meet Identified and documented needs. Mission, function, and task analyses identify requirements for accomplish-ment. methods-means analysis identifies possible solution strategies and tools.
At the completion of system analysis, the planner has identified all of the feasible “whats” for problem solution, and he knows the possible ways end means for achieving each “what.”
The usefulness of any system analysis lies in (1) the validity of the data it uses and (2) the objectivity and integrity of the planner.
System Analysis, System Approach, and Planning
A system approach, as described here, is a six-step process for realizing valid planned change. The -ix steps are quite general, and 2 self-correcting process is built into the approach. Thus the educator has a “road map” for achieving the desired change. The tools of system analysis be used at each step of the process. and In fact are used to plan step of a new educational program. The tools of needs assessment system analysis may be used at each step of the process, and in fact used to plan each step of a new educational program. The tools of s assessment and system Analysis are next presented In detail.
Accountability: the ability to show that one has done what he said he would do.
Closed-loop process: a process that is self-correcting based on its performance or nonperformance. (In general system theory, this is frequently analogous to an “open system.”)
Constraint: anything that will make it impossible to accomplish a performance requirement. Only if there are no possible methods and means achieving a performance requirement is a constraint evident
Educational management: a six-step process that includes the following elements:
1. Identity problem based on needs.
2. Determine solution requirements and solution alternatives.
3. Select solution strategy from among alternatives.
4. Implement selected strategies.
5. Determine performance effectiveness.
6. Revise as required, wherever required, whenever required.
Educational system planning: the identification of all requirements for meeting identified, documented needs. It includes the use of the tools fated with needs assessment and system analysis. When it is completed all the requirements and an identification of possible solution al¬ternatives for designing, implementing, and achieving a responsive (and successful) educations! system are present.
function analysis: the analysis of each of the elements (functions) it,
mission pro*,I!s which shows what is to be done to complete each function analysis is like a miniature mission analysis, that Is
to a smaller part of the overall problem. Like the mission
is, It includes performance requirements (specifications) for the
successful accomplishment of each function in the mission profile. Function analysis, however, depicts the sub functions In the order and relationship necessary to successfully accomplish each function.
Management: a process for meeting needs.
Methods–means analysis: the determination of possible methods and (strategies and tools) for accomplishing each performance requirement, and a listing of the relative advantages and disadvantages of each.
Mission analysis: the process for identifying, for the problem selected the elements of (1) where are we going? (2) what criteria will we use let us know when we have arrived? and (3) a management plan to show what functions must be performed to get us from where we are to when we are to be. This management plan is usually depicted in the form of flow chart called a mission profile.
Open-loop process: a process that does not self-correct on the be of performance. (In general system theory, this is frequently analogous to what is termed a “closed system.”)
Performance requirement: a measurable specification for outcome. There may be two types of performance requirements–one that tells what the end of product will look like or do, and another type that identifies specifications that are “given” relative to the manner in which the product to be produced.
Problem: a documented discrepancy selected for resolution.
System analysis: a set of four related tools used for analyzing the requirements of a system that would, if satisfied, meet the identified need. The analysis identifies requirements (or specifications) for meeting the needs and the interrelations among the requirements; it alto Identifies potentially useful methods and means for meeting each requirement. The four related tools of system analysis are: mission analysis, function analysis, task analysis, and methods–means analysis. These tools are used to define the requirements (and thus define the problem) In In¬creasing levels of detail and refinement.
Task analysis: the lowest level of system analysis. Task analysis shows, usually In tabular form (rather than flow chin form) the units of perform¬ance associated with each sub function.


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