Systemic Change in a Higher Education Institution: Inquiring into Organizational and Instructional Transformation

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Changes often occur in organizational systems due to the technology, new methods, new understandings and emerging needs. This study examined the reasons, components, roles of the people involved and results of the systemic change process at a university preparatory department by using a self-initiated, prescriptive, and planned systemic change process. The aim of the study is to investigate how the planned systemic change initiative was processed and implemented. Data were collected over a two-year period. Data sources included documents, field notes based on observations, focus group interviews with alumni, and semi-structured interviews with stakeholders within the institution. Systems and systemic change conceptual frameworks guided the interpretative analysis of data. Findings showed that the system requires powerful reasons for change and there needs to be change in the components of the system such as organization, curriculum, communication and assessment. The analysis also highlighted the crucial role individuals play in the systemic change process. In this systemic change inquiry, a transformational pattern within the organizational and instructional domains emerged. The five main themes that relate to this process were: motivation, standards, structural change, whole school involvement and leadership.

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  1. 1.

    We developed this article based on the research we conducted for the doctoral dissertation submitted to the Graduate School of Social Sciences at the Middle East Technical University (İpek 2017).


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Correspondence to Ömer Faruk İpek.

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İpek, Ö.F., Karaman, A.C. Systemic Change in a Higher Education Institution: Inquiring into Organizational and Instructional Transformation. Syst Pract Action Res (2020) doi:10.1007/s11213-019-09516-6

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  • Systemic change
  • Organizational change
  • Higher education
  • English language education institutions