Organizational Theory, Planning, and Change

This  8-week course began February 3, 2015. The instructor for ORG/722 was Eric Turner, Ph.D.

Course Description

This course examines the structure of higher education organizations and the ways in which leaders manage these organizations through change. Students will focus on the cultural aspects of educational organizations, the ways in which organizational strategies are designed and implemented, as well as the organizational contexts that affect structure and change.

Course Competencies

  • Examine organizational theory and its application to system-wide organizational planning and change as a leader within higher education
  • Explain how organizational theory and practices are used to improve leadership decisions and system-wide organizational outcomes in higher education administration.
  • Analyze the influence of leadership style on the application of organizational planning and change.
  • Create operational and strategic plans to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of higher education organizations including continuous system-wide improvement and evaluation processes.
  • Develop a substantial problem by analyzing issues in higher eduction organizations.
  • Analyze the dynamics of change, how to lead change, and the impact change has on students, staff, faculty, and other stakeholders.

The first two weeks of most doctoral programs are devoted to reading. After that, each week has a topic and the assignments reflect the topic as well as relate to parts of the reading. The reading list for this course is listed at the bottom under references. Note that in addition to the required texts, there were a number of journal articles that were also required reading for each week.

  1. Reading Week
  2. Reading Week
  3. Organizational Theory in Higher Education
  4. Organizational Planning and Change
  5. Leadership in Educational Organizations
  6. System-Wide Evaluations and Results-Oriented Leadership
  7. Community Partnerships in Planning and Change
  8. Executing Organizational Change


There were a number of assignments that required time and effort. However, I am just focusing on the papers. They were as follows:

  • Week 3: In week 3 we were asked to review two organizational theories and one organizational model of higher education. Then we were to complete an Organizational Theories and Models Table by analyzing the following components of the theories and model we reviewed:
    • The purpose
    • The historical and political perspective
    • The structure and methodology
    • The strengths and weaknesses
    • Its application to improve leadership decisions and organizational outcomes
  • Week 4: In week 4 we were to create a 20- to 30-slide PowerPoint® presentation that familiarizes staff and faculty in a higher education organization with student development theory across all college and adult age groups, and focuses on the importance, history, and utility of various theories. The presentation must be directed toward staff and faculty who have little or no knowledge of student development theory. Speaker’s notes must be used to support major points of the presentation. Major points must be supported in APA format by primary sources, including seminal texts and journal articles. This assignment was worth 15 points. Again, the grade was recorded but not put on the actual assignment. I earned an A.
  • Week 5: In week 5 we had to write a paper of 1,050 to 1,400 words in which we determine an attainable higher education position we would like to have in the next 5 years. Do research to determine the interplay between that position and student development theory. Describe the position’s responsibilities and how you might utilize student development in your daily work. Discuss ways you could utilize student development theory to make appropriate decisions. What are some guidelines you must keep in mind to assist student development? Support your arguments with theories and primary sources including seminal texts and journal articles. This was an interesting challenge. Because the program is Higher Education Administration I naturally began researching administrative positions. After some time, I came to realize that I enjoy the position of faculty and would very much like to continue my work as college faculty. It turned out to be a very interesting paper for me. I earned 9.8 out of 10 on this paper.
  • Week 6: There were no papers or projects due in Week 6. We had discussion questions and participation.
  • Week 7: In week 7 we had to review a case study and associated material. We selected one of the administrative positions discussed in the case study and then role played how that person might respond to the situation. I took the position of Institutional Researcher as I have experience in that role. We prepared an analysis of key issues surrounding the student or students involved. Then made a determination of three theories or theorists that might apply to the situation and explain the student’s behavior(s). What intervention is appropriate based on the theories or theorists you determine fit? How might the situation be resolved given the role that you selected? The analysis of the documents, situation, theories, and intervention must be included in a 2,800- to 3,500-word paper, in APA format, supported by primary sources including seminal texts and journal articles. A draft of the assignment was posted in the main forum for peers to review and discuss. I earned 24/25 on this paper.
  • Week 8: In week 8 there were two main assignments (aside from the weekly discussion questions and participation). The first was a Peer Review. We were to respond to at least one Case Study assignment posted from week 7. In the review we were to evaluate the approach the learner took in examining the scenario. How reasonable is his or her interpretation? Is the proposed intervention effective? Are the statements in the assignment supported by theories? The second assignment came after we examined our paper that was peer reviewed. We then had to complete a Revision Matrix for the Case Study assignment based on the peer feedback. Together these were worth 10 points. I earned 10/10.


The biggest challenge for me was that the facilitator was not familiar with the New Classroom. UOPX changed the online system significantly last year and facilitators had to attend training in order to learn how to manage the classroom. As a classroom facilitator I have attended the training and after a few classes am much more comfortable. It appears Dr. Curry had too much time between the training and her first class in the New Classroom. I found items not being posted where they should have been posted and grades were, as I have indicated, not always made visible. Once you leave the class, grades are no longer visible and so without markings on papers and presentations, I am unable to recall from memory exact grades.


The interesting thing is that I thought the biggest challenge for me would be the fact that there were just 3 students in the class. Initially we had been informed that the class might be cancelled due to so few students. Fortunately it was not and I really enjoyed the smaller class size.

Additionally, I learned so much about student development that I am excited about pursuing it for a paper presentation. With over half of college and university staff as adjunct, contingency, or part-time, I wonder how much student development is actually known and practiced in classes and on campus. I know I received little training in this area and have not had any workshops or conferences that discuss this topic.

I successfully completed the course with 99.2 out of 100 points. I earned an A and 3 credits. So I have now completed 28 units and have 37 more to go.

Required Reading

Bolman, L. G. & Deal, T. E. (2013). Reframing organizations: Artistry, choice, and leadership (5th ed.). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Brown, M. C. II. (Ed.). (2011). Organization & governance in higher education (6th ed.). Boston, MA: Pearson Custom.

Coley, S. M. & Schienberg, C. A. (2014). Proposal writing: Effective grantsmanship (4th ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Kezar, A. J. (2001). Understanding and facilitating organizational change in the 21st century: Recent research and conceptualizations. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Kramer, M. (2010). The stress of change. Testing the resilience of institutions. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.


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