Dissertations and Theses @ UNI


Open Access Dissertation


School management and organization--Iowa--Decision making; Schools--Centralization--Iowa;


The issues confronting small/rural schools in the state of Iowa are very complex, raging in scope from the loss of student population, limited financial resources, quality of academic and extra-curricular programs, and even to the very survival of the community in which the school is located. Because of these issues school administrators, boards of education, and school district patrons are confronted with finding a new organizational structure for their school. Processes and procedures used to make these decisions have typically led to emotional battles within the school and community.

The purpose of this study was to apply the Nominal Group Technique and the Interpretive Structural Modeling processes within two small/rural school districts to assess their potential usefulness as analytical tools when a school is faced with making a decision about its organizational structure.

The Nominal Group Technique and Interpretive Structural Model are two validated group techniques found to be useful when analyzing complex problems. To understand more clearly the problem of choosing an alternative organizational structure for a small/rural school these techniques were used to: (a) identify the substantive elements of the issue without the emotional and political influences so common in group decision making, and (b) identify and structure the relationships between the identified elements. Further, a follow-up questionnaire asked participants to assess the Nominal Group Technique and Interpretive Structural Modeling processes as tools to improve communication and foster a better understanding of the issues when an alternative organizational structure is sought.

The Nominal Group Technique and Interpretive Structural Model, as employed in this study, were found to be effective tools to improve the decision making process for two small/rural Iowa school districts faced with making a change in their organizational structure. Moreover, the techniques, because of their flexibility, were found to be useful in other educational settings. The transition process that occurs after two school districts have decided to combine educational programs, establishing consensus and priorities for budget cuts, or the process of restructuring an entire educational program are examples in which the Nominal Group Technique and Interpretive Structural Modeling processes will be useful.

Year of Submission


Degree Name

Doctor of Education


Department of Educational Administration and Counseling

First Advisor

Robert H. Decker

Date Original


Object Description

1 PDF file (vi, 185 pages)



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