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Article

Martinette V. Horner, Derrick D. Jordan, and Kathleen M. Brown

Academic optimism was developed in 2006 as a latent concept that provides insight into the improvement of student outcomes especially for those who, because of socioeconomic status, ethnicity, and other demographics, have historically been labeled as underperforming. The three main components of academic optimism (academic emphasis, collective emphasis, and faculty trust) underscore the reality that the teachers, parents, and students all play a critical role in the education arena when it comes to ensuring that students fully grow and stretch to the fullest extent possible. High academic optimism in a school suggests that academic achievement is valued and supported; the faculty has the capacity to help students achieve; and students and parents can be trusted as partners of the school for student achievement. Each of these can be controlled by the actions and decisions of school leaders and faculty so that schools can overcome the effects of poverty on student achievement.

Article

Eileen S. Johnson

Action research has become a common practice among educational administrators. The term “action research” was first coined by Kurt Lewin in the 1930s, although teachers and school administrators have long engaged in the process described by and formally named by Lewin. Alternatively known as practitioner research, self-study, action science, site-based inquiry, emancipatory praxis, etc., action research is essentially a collaborative, democratic, and participatory approach to systematic inquiry into a problem of practice within a local context. Action research has become prevalent in many fields and disciplines, including education, health sciences, nursing, social work, and anthropology. This prevalence can be understood in the way action research lends itself to action-based inquiry, participation, collaboration, and the development of solutions to problems of everyday practice in local contexts. In particular, action research has become commonplace in educational administration preparation programs due to its alignment and natural fit with the nature of education and the decision making and action planning necessary within local school contexts. Although there is not one prescribed way to engage in action research, and there are multiple approaches to action research, it generally follows a systematic and cyclical pattern of reflection, planning, action, observation, and data collection, evaluation that then repeats in an iterative and ongoing manner. The goal of action research is not to add to a general body of knowledge but, rather, to inform local practice, engage in professional learning, build a community practice, solve a problem or understand a process or phenomenon within a particular context, or empower participants to generate self-knowledge.

Article

Sarimah Shaik-Abdullah, S. Kanageswari Suppiah Shanmugam, and Mohan Chinnappan

The quality of education in any country rests on school communities as a whole. However, the real implementers of innovations and changes in curriculum are teachers. Teachers, as practitioners, are the ones most often held accountable for successes and failures in educating schoolchildren. The way to facilitate teachers in handling challenges and keeping up with curriculum renewals is through constant support in the form of continuing professional development (CPD) by means of action research. Action research as CPD has been viewed as a critical platform for advocating change, which is the outcome of teachers’ ability and autonomy to lead in making informed decisions about their own practices. Given its usefulness, action research is found well established, vastly practiced, and widely published in Western countries. This has raised the question of the widespread use of action research as CPD in the Southeast Asian (SEA) region. Preliminary analysis reveals that in some SEA countries, such as Timor Leste, there is limited literature on action research, while in countries such as Malaysia, Singapore, and Thailand, action research has been well documented. At the same time, there is an emerging trend in SEA countries to adopt different models of action research. In Malaysia, for instance, action research has been primarily classroom based, whereas in Indonesia, a critical and community based approach to action research seems to be prevalent. This suggests that the kinds of action research conducted in the different SEA countries may reflect variations in cultural, economic, and geographical landscapes. Given the importance of action research to teacher practitioners and school leaders, and in providing an identity to the action research approaches conducted in Southeast Asia, the historical trail of action research presents a window into the nature of CPD concerns of each country, as well as the successes and challenges of conducting action research as CPD for sustained impact.

Article

Fenwick W. English and Rosemary Papa

Aesthetics of leadership pertain to leadership activities and actions in contemporary educational settings, expanded to include a range of human sensory experiences, from clothing and cosmetic choices to pragmatic somaesthetics, an area of human decision making that involves choices regarding norms and prescriptions in all human contexts. Considering aesthetics in leadership runs up against a long tradition in educational administration and leadership of conventional social science methods of inquiry and what is considered evidentiary. There are at least six dimensions of organizational issues that are judged to be cultural: determination of normative procedures; organizational rituals, rites, and ceremonies; organizational myths, stories, and legends; statements regarding mission, vision, and philosophy; personnel issues such as mentoring, recruitment, promotion, and role modeling; and architectural and physical structural issues. School culture emerged as a concern of educators and policy change agents engaged in introducing a variety of alternatives in education. It soon became apparent that to be successful, proposed changes in human behavior had to move beyond trying to persuade through the use of facts, data, and logic. Human behavior is in part responsive to psychosocial norms. Only a few of these norms may be written; the majority may be unwritten and learned through living them on a daily basis. The unwritten rules and rituals of a group such as a school or university department, when considered holistically, may be called a “culture.” The art of leadership is not contained by the science of management; it is found in aesthetics, somaesthetics, and connoisseurship, and is embodied by human elements, or accoutrements.

Article

Michelle D. Young and Noelle W. Arnold

Ongoing shifts in demographics, knowledge, and expectations require continuous critical reflection on the leadership of K-12 schools. The models of school leadership offered in the past, which focus on management, are no longer adequate. Today, leaders must also ensure that all the students in their care are being provided high-quality, developmentally appropriate, and challenging educational opportunities that prepare each student for college, careers, and life. In other words, leaders must engage in “Inclusive Educational Leadership.” Inclusive Educational Leadership is a reconceptualization of traditional education leadership, which is dedicated to equity, quality and inclusion. We emphasize “inclusive” because it is our contention that providing a quality education experience that is both equitable and fosters equitable outcomes requires an intentional focus on inclusion. Inclusive Educational Leadership has three key areas of emphasis: place, preparation, and practice. Place refers to social practices and policies that reflect competing meanings and uses of spaces, the role people play in a given space and articulations of locations (geographic positions), environments (conditions), and ranks (hierarchies). Preparation refers to education, training and mentoring that is provided to leaders, and practice refers to the work leaders do to cultivate dispositions that support inclusion, support inclusive and culturally responsive practice, and develop an inclusive school culture. The goal of inclusive leadership is to cultivate an inclusive, caring, and supportive school culture that promotes the academic success and well-being of each student. In other words, its goal is to offer more than expectations that lightly touch on all students; its goal is to deliver results for each student. Thus, the work of Inclusive Educational Leadership involves a restructuring of the education experience to prevent marginalization, while creating school cultures based on dignity and respect and focused on achieving equity, high-quality educational experiences, and life success for all students.

Article

Challenges to Mexican educational leadership and equity fundamentally have to do with class struggle and shaping the national identity to conform to one of two competing narratives: México as a country that strives to ensure its place in the first world, subordinating itself to the demands of external bodies and forgoing its own history; or México as a country that sustains and advances its historical struggle for social justice. México’s democratic teachers represent an important voice of educational leadership, as they struggle for educational equity for their students and through active resistance to reforms that rob teachers of their labor rights and intellectual autonomy, and rob students of their rights to the vast epistemological resources that their languages, history, culture, and identity represent. Facing new forms of colonialism that neoliberal education reform ushered in, the teachers fight in contested space that the Mexican curriculum is; they do so with renewed commitments to defeat education reform efforts that have more to do with the restructuring of their labor rights than the education of children in the classroom.

Article

Fenwick W. English

That some of the characteristics of leaders, ancient and modern, involve the ability of a leader to connect with and create an emotional bond with followers is an age-old documented phenomenon. Academic studies of charisma, as a special gift from the gods, have proven disappointing. Finding predictable descriptors about who is or is not such a leader have not revealed the kind of scientific reliability believed to be required to stand the test of context free generalization. Studies about charismatic leaders have shifted from compiling lists of common traits or behaviors, to recognition that situational context and culture in which a leader functions is a more reliable guide to what leaders with charisma do and what lies behind their common agendas throughout history. There are different types of charismatic leaders depending on their motivation and who benefits from their ministrations. Bureaucracies do not require leaders to be charismatic because the authority of bureaucracy is rational and legal, not emotional. Yet the essence of transformational leadership is the emotional bond between leaders and followers. Such a bond is independent of the moral legitimacy of any agenda which units them.

Article

Raja Maznah Raja Hussain

Coaching as a method of professional development is now practiced in higher education to supplement and replace the traditional methods of new faculty induction, workshops, and training programs. Coaching may be more appealing for Generation Y (millennial) academics as it allows for a more personalized professional development and takes into consideration individual needs for support in the early years of their career. Support offered through coaching allow young academics to set their own goals, focusing on what is important to them in regard to teaching, research, publication, and student supervision. Depending on what the goals are, a young academic may need to engage with several coaches who would facilitate and help to steer the achievement of those goals, whether immediate goals such as publication or long-term goals such as promotion. The coaching process requires trust and patience on the part of both the coach and the coachee to build a relationship that will drive transformation. Coaching is known to benefit both the coach and the coachee as the journey is a deep learning process. The coachee develops self-belief and confidence through finding solutions and alternative ways to move forward, and the coach develops skills and refines techniques. Formalized coaching programs in higher-education institutions require commitments from everyone at all levels. An institution planning to implement coaching needs to take into consideration the readiness of the institution to engage with and support the coaching plan. A coaching culture helps the institution to flourish as it fosters members who are motivated to help others to grow.

Article

Colin W. Evers and Gabriele Lakomski

The influence of cognitive science on educational administration has been patchy. It has varied over four main accounts of cognition, which are, in historical order: behaviorism, functionalism, artificial neural networks, and cognitive neuroscience. These developments, at least as they may have concerned educational administration, go from the late 1940s up to the present day. There also has been a corresponding sequence of developments in educational administration, mainly motivated by accounts of the nature of science. The goal of producing a science of educational administration was dominated by the construal of science as a positivist enterprise. For much of the field’s early development, from the 1950s to the early 1970s, varieties of behaviorism were central, with brief excursions into functionalism. When large-scale alternatives to behaviorism finally began to emerge, they were mostly alternatives to science, and thus failed to comport with much of cognitive science. However, the emergence of postpositivist accounts of science has created the possibility for studies in administrator cognition to be informed by developments in neuroscience. These developments initially included the study of artificial neural networks and more recently have involved biologically realistic mathematical models that reflect work in cognitive neuroscience.

Article

Khaliza Saidin, Aizan Yaacob, and Nurul Shahidah Ahmad Nasir

Efficacy is a person’s degree of beliefs and confidence to implement a task and produce a positive change. Efficacy can be divided into two aspects, namely self-efficacy and collective efficacy. In the context of education, the focus of research on efficacy is on teacher self-efficacy and collective teacher efficacy. Teacher self-efficacy is teachers’ belief in their own ability to carry out a task in order to bring positive changes, while collective teacher efficacy is the shared belief of teachers from different backgrounds and competencies in their ability to achieve the same goal. Collective efficacy depends on teacher self-efficacy to create collective beliefs in ensuring the achievement of the school’s vision and mission. Studies on collective teacher efficacy have brought positive effects on student performance and achievement and become an indicator of student performance. However, the research trend has shifted to focus on the relationship between collective teacher efficacy and teacher leadership. It was found that collective teacher efficacy not only influenced student performance and achievement but also affected teacher leadership. In the Malaysian context, studies on collective teacher efficacy are still scarce and they mostly focused on demographic levels, factors affecting teacher collective efficacy, level of collective teacher efficacy and the relationship between collective teacher efficacy and student achievement. As teacher quality is an important factor in educational improvement, it is proposed that future studies in the Malaysian context emphasize the relationship between teacher collective efficacy and issues regarding teacher leadership as they eventually bring positive effects on students’ academic achievement. Therefore, more research is needed to address the role of teacher collective efficacy on teacher leadership in promoting quality of teaching and learning. A large scale radical improvement in the educational field is highly needed.

Article

Community participation in school management has great potentials for removing mistrust and distance between people and schools by nurturing transparency of information and a culture of mutual respect and by jointly pursuing improvement of school by sharing vision, process, and results. Individual and organizational behavioral changes are critical to increase the level of participation. In countries where the administrative structures are weak, the bottom-up approach to expanding educational opportunity and quality learning may be the only option. Nevertheless, when community participation is implemented with a top-down manner without wider consultation on its aims, processes, and expected results, the consequences are likely to be conflicts between actors, a strong sense of overwhelming obligation, fatigue, inertia, and disparity in the degree and results of community participation between communities. Political aspects of school management and socio-cultural difference among the population require caution, as they are likely to induce partial participation or nonparticipation of the community at large. Community participation in school management will result in a long-term impact only if it involves a wide range of actors who can discuss and practice the possibilities of revisiting the definition of community and the way it should be.

Article

Mohammad Noman and David Gurr

Context, culture, and leadership are features of educational organizations, yet the relationship between the three is poorly understood. Often leadership theories are propagated as though they will be applicable in all situations, yet research on successful school leaders has found that leadership is highly contextual in nature and that the success of educational leaders depends upon how leaders adapt their practices according to contextual factors. Contextual leadership transcends the rigid, and at times overlapping boundaries of existing educational leadership theories and models and brings the context to the center stage of the practices of educational leaders. Culture can be considered as one of the context factors, but it is a complicated factor with many dimensions. Successful educational leaders are the ones who master the art of creating a balance between multiple cultural contexts acting upon their institutions and, through their contextual practices, learn the art of successfully leading their institutions by creating an inclusive, multicultural environment. Successful school leaders are those who are culturally sensitive, but not context constrained.

Article

In the context of educational leadership, the application of contingency and situational theory underlines the importance of analyzing the current situation and the variables that affect the organization’s framework so that a manager can be effective. Whichever education system we are referring to, it is virtually meaningless to study leadership styles without recognizing the significance of the school context. School is a complex organization, an open system which appears to be a very uncertain environment. In order for leadership to be effective in this uncertain environment, the leaders should adopt a holistic approach. Many leaders avoid high uncertainty by applying standard operating procedures and making traditional bureaucratic responses in every case. Contingency and situational theory could give school leaders the opportunity for a solid basis in further refining management policies and practices. Contingency theory is based on the assumption that no single leadership style is appropriate in all situations. According to this theory, leadership style is quite inflexible. Thus, organizational effectiveness depends on matching internal organizational characteristics with environmental conditions. Therefore, effective leadership depends on whether the leader’s style matches the needs of the individual case. This theory applies better to educational systems where principal selection is done through an open recruitment process. One useful tool of this theory is contingency planning or forecasting. On the other hand, situational theory dictates that leaders adapt their style to match their staff’s characteristics and requirements. In education systems where the recruitment and selection of school principals lies with central government, situational theory can be a useful tool for the principals. When principals are placed in a new school, they should choose the best course of action based upon the current circumstances. Flexibility is key in managing a team effectively. The main difference between the two theories is that in the first case we put the right person in the right job while in the second leaders adjust their style depending on school context.

Article

The field of educational administration has a long and embedded history of taking a critical approach to practice, research, and theory. While there are a range of reviews from within and external to the field, there is no comprehensive contemporary historical overview of the meaning and actuality of critical approaches. A novel mapping and codification project aims to fill this gap by providing six approaches to criticality in the field. Three are professional self–focused—biographical, hierarchical, and entrepreneurial—and three are focused on professional and policy issues as primary research projects—functional, realistic, and activist. An overview is provided for each with examples of field projects/outputs, followed by an examination of the trends in the field. The state of the field is identified as a site for intervention from non-education interests (e.g., business), where non-research forms of criticality, often allied with functional research, tend to be dominant.

Article

Scholars have suggested that the study of school leadership has been dominated by Anglo-American and Western views. This has provoked a call for conceptual and empirical research on school leadership using a cross-cultural perspective. In their 2005 work, Dimmock and Walker provided a comprehensive Framework for the Study of Cross-Cultural School Leadership that responded to the deficit of non-Western views. They, along with others, have argued that principals play a vital role in shaping school culture and that there is a need to expand our conceptualization of culture to include organizational, local, regional, national, and global culture. Hofstede’s Model and the Global Leadership and Organizational Behavior Effectiveness (GLOBE) research program, initiated by Robert House in 1991, are examples of empirical models for the study of cross-cultural leadership. Ylimaki and Jacobson’s (2011) International Study of Successful School Principals (ISSPP) examined the common cross-cultural practices and policy concerns across seven global educational contexts. Their findings pointed to some common policy concerns that involve accountability, principal preparation, and the need for principals who are culturally competent. They stressed the importance of rigorous systematic research studies, reliable and valid instruments, and reconsideration of philosophies about educational administration that incorporate non-Western views and utilize a cross-cultural perspective. Some common practices cross-culturally included having high expectations, engaging in instructional and transformational leadership, shared leadership with teachers, capacity development, heroic leadership that challenged the status quo, and an emphasis on continuous learning and professional development.

Article

Sølvi Mausethagen, Tine Prøitz, and Guri Skedsmo

Typically involving the use of test scores, grades, and other forms of assessment in various educational contexts, the concept of data use has developed in parallel with the introduction of new managerial approaches to school governance, including performance management and accountability measures. This use of data for governance purposes is one way in which national authorities coordinate activities across administrative levels to improve education quality and effectiveness. Policymakers’ and researchers’ frequent use of the concepts of data and data use also usually parallels this development. However, based on systematic research mapping, the present findings identify differing ideas about data use in national and local contexts, including the role that data play and should play in school reform. Such differences relate to variations in school systems, teachers’ status, school governance traditions, curricular traditions, and research traditions. Moreover, characteristic of the literature on data use is an emphasis on the organization and development of effective data use practices. This is somewhat paradoxical, as both earlier and more recent studies emphasize the need for a stronger focus on the actual practices of the involved actors if data are to be of value in school development processes. Three important needs are important when considering data use in policy, research, and practice: the need for greater awareness of the epistemic aspects of data use; the need for context sensitivity, as data use is often presented as a universal concept across national and local contexts; and the need for researchers to communicate with other related fields to improve theory and practice.

Article

Ana Patricia Noguera de Echeverri, Diana Alexandra Bernal Arias, and Sergio Manuel Echeverri Noguera

A bet, a clamor, an algid need, to “thinking us” (as a collaborative, and reflexive thinking in a prospective way) about environmental education, or better, the environmentalization of education, in a decolonization that helps us think: How do we inhabit “this South that we are” in times of environmental crisis? Thinking us, in this environmental crisis, that is civilizatory. Thinking about it, and thinking us from an “environmental turn” (a change in the way we look at everything, far from seeing life as a resource, and far from devastating capitalism): from the environmental as an object to the environmental as deep and complex symbolic–biotic relationships between ecosystems and cultures. It is an environmental turn that recognizes the felthinking() Body-Earth (Noguera, 2012) that we are in an aesthetic, sensitive transit, in which the polyphonic voices of these lands emerge in the South Environmental Thought. Our paths are many, however. One of them that we wish to name Methodesthesis as the path of feeling, where the sensitive, the sensibility, the sense, the senses, and the sentient allow an understanding of the language of the Earth and the permanent aesthetic creations of the Earth-Nature-Life that we are, in a radical dissolution of the cognitive subject and the measurable object. It is an ontic, epistemic-ethical-aesthetic-political proposal, but above all it is an urgency, an enjoyment, a poetic flourishing of life itself, of the Earth and of us as life and land, in a decolonized southern environmental education and decolonizing that allows transitions for a more poetic dwelling in this South than we are.

Article

Philip A. Woods

Democratic leadership suggests that leadership can include people rather than treating them simply as followers of a leader. Understanding what this means conceptually, and its implications for practice in schools and other educational settings, raises complex and challenging issues. The concept of democracy has a variety of meanings. The concept of leadership itself is much debated, with increasing attention being given to the idea that in practice it is a distributed and emergent phenomenon involving not only senior leaders but also numerous others who contribute to leadership through everyday interactions. A narrow, minimalist idea of democratic leadership sees it as a style of leadership that a principal or headteacher might adopt so that others, such as staff and students, feel consulted and included. This has limited potential for transforming education. A broader conception, with greater relevance to education, sees democratic leadership as having a much richer and more ambitious focus. A rich perspective of democratic leadership not only promotes power sharing and transforming dialogue that enhances understanding (rather than entrenching people’s existing views and self-interests) but also cultivates holistic learning as rounded, ethical “citizens” of the organization and relational well-being through a community that fosters both belonging and individuality. Democratic leadership that is rich in this way encourages a sense of agency across the school and addresses power differences so the practice of democratic leadership becomes a shared, collaborative process in which all as co-leaders contribute proactively to innovation and the life of the school. It also recognizes the importance of the structural context from which leadership as a complex, distributed phenomenon emerges. Democratic leadership grows from and is expressed through enabling structures, such as a culture that explicitly shows that inclusive participation is valued and institutional spaces and resources that provide opportunities for power sharing, transforming dialogue and the growth of holistic learning and relational well-being. Both (enabling) structures and (participative and empowering) agency are essential features of democratic leadership.

Article

Making appropriate methodological and analytic decisions in educational research requires a thorough grounding in the literature and a thorough understanding of the chosen methodology. Detailed preplanning is important for all method types and includes an understanding of the assumptions, limitations, and delimitations of the study. For quantitative research, researchers should be cautious with data analysis decisions that give preference to statistically significant results, noting that quantitative research can proceed with intents other than confirmatory hypothesis testing. Decisions and procedures that are used to search for low p values, rather than answer the driving research question, are especially problematic. Presentation of quantitative results should include components that clarify and account for analytic choices, that report all relevant statistical results, and that provide sufficient information to replicate the study. Consideration should also be given to joining recent initiatives for more transparency in research with the use of preregistered studies and open data repositories. For qualitative research, researchers should be thoughtful about choosing a specific method for their project that appropriately matches the method’s framework and analytic procedures with the research aim and anticipated sample. Qualitative researchers should also strive for transparency in their method description by allowing for a view of the analytic process that drove the data collection and iterative dives into the data. Presentation of qualitative results requires a balance between providing a compelling narrative that establishes the trustworthiness of results with the judicious use of participant voices. Mixed methods research also requires appropriate integration of different data types.

Article

Carlos Azcoitia, Karen Glinert Carlson, and Ted Purinton

Effective community school leaders build strong, reciprocal, and sustainable partnerships to support student growth, as well as to strengthen families and communities. Developing authentic alliances among teachers, parents, and community stakeholders creates a climate of trust and positive relationships that strengthens democratic schools. Community schools are an effective way to support families and students, as well as to mobilize the support needed to engage the community in developing effective partnerships. Yet in particular, it is community school leaders who cross traditional role boundaries and build cross-cultural fluency while balancing managerial concerns, navigating politics, dealing with external accountability pressures, and fostering shared accountability. They are the people who make community schools successful, and in turn, their leadership promotes positive growth in areas not traditionally perceived as falling in the domains of education. When school leaders engage in community-organizing strategies to enhance the quality of life in neighborhoods, as well as to empower parents to take active roles in the education of their children, they inspire positive holistic changes within their schools and communities. Successful leaders make this look easy, yet the interplay of a leader’s knowledge base, skill set, and disposition is complex. A developmental model based on knowledge, skills, and dispositions that cultivate reciprocal sustainable partnerships is presented within the context of national leadership and community school standards.