Ph.D Thesis

Ph.D StudentZvi Liraz
SubjectThe Organizational Culture of an Educational Innovation:
The Case of a Project-Based Learning School
DepartmentDepartment of Education in Science and Technology
Supervisor Full Professors Hazzan Orit


This research focused on a group of people who joined forces to launch an innovative school based on the educational approach of Project-Based Learning (PBL). The research was conducted during three consecutive periods, or seasons, tracking the progress of the school: starting with the data-gathering and the development of the initiative; through the integration and plan making; and up to the application period of school establishment and operation.

The research studied the development of the school’s organizational learning culture, where culture is defined as a mutual and shared significance (Geertz, 1973) or as the pattern of basic assumptions that a given group had invented or developed (Schein, 1984).

The goal of the research was to characterize the organizational culture of a group of people forming a new project-based school. The research questions derived from this goal were:

  1. What are the values of the organizational culture of a community of teachers, who initiate, develop and create a project-based school?
  2. How is PBL reflected in this community’s practices?

The research findings indicate that the teacher's community designed an organizational culture of a project-based learning research and development (R&D) group of radical innovation. In more details: Schein’s layer of values (mid layer) of the school organizational culture were revealed, cultivating and being cultivated by its surrounding layers. This mid layer is derived from the layer of basic premises and assumptions, and the layer of artifacts (language, symbols and products) of the organization. The identified values are: 1) Mission and commitment, 2) personal, team and community identity, 3) partnership and camaraderie, 4) psychological safety, 5) leadership for learning, 6) reflection and continuous learning, 7) sustainability of innovation, 8) inquisitiveness and rigor, 9) agility, 10) learning from conflicts and contradictions.

This research suggests a theoretical contribution to the comprehension of leaning processes during radical changes in educational organizations. Its practical contribution can be conveyed in the application, planning, escorting and assessment of innovation processes of schools and of communities of teachers, and also in the professional development of teachers in communities, networks and mission teams.