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Article

In the first part of the 21st century there has been a turn to practice in the social sciences including organizational studies, critical management sociology, philosophy, and some domains of education inquiry. Despite a rich tradition of epistemological and ontological debates, educational leadership scholarship has been slow to recognize the productive nature of the practice turn. This is partly due to its historical location in North American pragmatic traditions and a concomitant privileging of more instrumentalist, positivist, and functionalist accounts of how we come to know, be, and learn to go on in the social world that constitutes educational organizations. Educational leadership scholarship has had two dominant tendencies when it comes to explaining the phenomenon of organizational change. The first relies on individualist and frequently decontextualized accounts that privilege individuals, for example, the hero leader who turns around a “failing” educational organization. The second draws on dominant societist accounts that foreground systems, for example, principals as role incumbents in schools. In so doing, the latter privileges the system above the lifeworld of educational organizations. In contrast, a practice account of leadership or leading draws our attention to the materiality and “happeningness” of leading practices as social phenomena, unfolding in the ontological specificity of particular sites at particular times, rather than as a set of espoused ideals. It foregrounds the cultural-discursive, material-economic, and social-political arrangements or practice architectures that hold in place particular educational practices, and that in turn create the kinds of enabling or constraining conditions for educational transformation to occur. By understanding the practices and arrangements that hold particular kinds of educational practices in place, we are better able to understand possibilities for educational change and transformation.

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

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

Abdelbasit Gadour

Looking back at the so-called Arab Spring, one sees people across these countries where the uprisings took place (e.g., Libya) still enduring political repression and change, a growth in threats of terror, and conflicts between tribes and militias, all of which have led to constant violence and a struggle for power. Events in Libya in 2019 suggest that there is an urgent need for education about democracy—a culture of creating a positive environment among people, increasing their awareness of their community, and helping them make decisions and achieve their goals. The qualities a democratic education set out to develop such a positive environment, and undoubtedly schools should be the place where all of this should begin. However, the supreme leader of Libya (Al-Qaddafi) used education in mainstream schools as a propaganda tool for his dictatorship; perhaps this is why the role of schools in Libya has been far removed from cultivating the practices necessary to maintain democratic values. Hence, the idea of democracy was not fostered from within its mainstream school system. A strong need exists to move away from schools that reproduce authoritarianism and toward schools that consciously encourage the notions of democratic skills, values, and behaviors within the classroom and the school as a whole. At present, mainstream schools in Libya are still predominantly organized along authoritarian, hierarchical, and bureaucratic lines; consequently, they continue teaching obedience and submission rather than encouraging freedom of thought and responsibility. The traditional methods of teaching, which focus on rote learning to pass exams instead of fostering creative and independent thinking, are still heavily used. Thus, teachers have a moral responsibility to use education to advocate for democracy, empowering students to learn about democratic values and prepare them to participate in democracy and become better citizens.

Article

Jacqueline A. Brown, Samantha Russell, Emily Hattouni, and Ashlyn Kincaid

Providing psychoeducation to teachers, families, and other school staff is pivotal to best support students within the school setting. Psychoeducation is generally known as the information and resources provided to school staff, families, and students by mental health professionals to better educate them about the student’s emotions, behaviors, and achievement. Within the school setting, the school (or educational) psychologist often takes on this role when working with students and their families. School/educational psychologists are typically the most knowledgeable about psychological practices, theories, and foundations, and also have expertise in special education services, learning barriers, behavioral and mental health interventions, academic learning, and family–school collaboration, along with consultation and assessment practices. Consequently, these professionals are in a good position to effectively provide psychoeducation to a wide range of individuals. There are various methods of psychoeducation that can be used, such as disseminating resources and reading materials to teachers and families, meeting individually with families or teachers to provide detailed information about what the student is experiencing, and conducting psychoeducational groups with children and/or their caregivers on a variety of topics related to the child’s academic, behavior, or social-emotional well-being. When examining these methods, it is also important to understand how psychoeducation can be used for a wide range of educational practices that promote student well-being. These include using psychoeducation to increase academic achievement, for the prevention of problem behavior, to increase social-emotional well-being, promote educational practices, and provide professional development for school staff, and to inform educational policies. These psychoeducation practices have been widely used globally to better assist student functioning. Although psychoeducation is a widespread practice, there are still different views on how it should be delivered and questions that have arisen from the research.

Article

Research shows that for decades, there have been attempts to implement information and communication technology (ICT) in schools, but it has had a weak uptake among teachers thus far. One of the reasons for this lack of integration is that teachers perceive ICT as an additional load on their everyday practices that would increase the complexity of their roles. Teachers are therefore often cautious and sceptical about ICT implementation because it is often not properly attached to deeply entrenched school structure. Adaptive learning tools have provided new opportunities to facilitate this integration. Adaptive learning tools are expected to contribute to the customization and personalization of pupil learning by continually calibrating and adjusting pupils’ learning activities to their skill and competence levels. However, it is important to discuss whether adaptive learning tools need to be sufficiently anchored in the curriculum, in formative assessment, in adaptive education, and in homework to achieve their potential. In this way, we can obtain an understanding of how a systematic implementation of adaptive learning tools influences the learning outcomes, learning environment, and motivation of pupils in school, when such tools are attached to the deeply entrenched structures in school. In such implementation processes it seems like we need to reconsider the value of homework to achieve, for example, sufficient volume training and root learning with adaptive learning tools, thus freeing up time for practical mathematics and deep learning at school. Importantly, this requires a digital competence among teachers, where the critical factor is the teacher’s ability to create a teaching doctrine in which technology use is justified by didactic choices.

Article

José Ignacio Rivas-Flores

Teaching’s purpose is to build a society’s knowledge and skills through a group of students using a curricular proposal within a social and institutional framework. It therefore takes place in institutions specifically created for this purpose, which, as such, represents a culturally constructed environment that is in line with the conditions of the society in which this process unfolds. Thus professional cultures have been historically constructed according to the working conditions, the teaching experiences transmitted from generation to generation, and the evolution of the educational systems. In addition, institutional cultures are developed according to the particular history of each school. Student cultures also form as social groups within these institutions. This represents a complex system that goes beyond mere instruction by curriculum. Preparing the professionals who will go on to work in these institutions requires an understanding of these cultural frameworks and the competence to be able to act on them. Ethnographic research promotes an understanding of educational reality from a critical reflective perspective, and this is only possible if researchers themselves participate in those frameworks. Ethnography can be understood as a shared construction of places for reflection, aimed at comprehending the cultural, social, and political phenomena that involve participants in the processes of change and transformation. Teacher preparation must, therefore, be established with an ethnographic approach, which reconstructs the school experience from a critical reflective perspective. In this way, the conditions for developing a professional identity based on the reconstruction of this experience are created. The theories, in this case, offer the opportunity to pursue this critical dialogue, breaking away from the prescriptive role that they adopt from a positivist perspective. Ethnography contributes to the tasks through three basic dimensions. First, teacher preparation throughout is an object of educational inquiry: there are many research studies of an ethnographic nature that report teacher training methods in an attempt to understand the processes taking place. Second, ethnographies are a tool for preparing future teachers: in this case, this refers to a curricular use of ethnography aimed at future teachers’ understanding of the educational processes through research. Third is a way of understanding learning—in other words, ethnographic attitude as a learning strategy and the use of ethnographic inquiry strategies and tools as means of learning about educational processes. This last case generally entails staying and acting in schools, and it is what most clearly links research and teaching in a shared process.

Article

Marta Caballeros, Jeannette Bran, and Gabriela Castro

Inclusive education, as stated in declarations and human development goals, features in the educational policies being implemented in Central American and Caribbean (CA-DR) countries (Belize, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, and the Dominican Republic). The policies seek to give the entire population of each country permanent access to quality education services, and they have a particular focus on people with disabilities. However, there are considerable challenges to be overcome, caused by a combination of historical factors and the sociopolitical and economic context. Some of the countries still have significant levels of poverty and inequity, both of which hinder the development of inclusive education. At the same time, inclusive education is expected to help eradicate social exclusion and facilitate social mobility. This paradigm began as an effort to secure disabled people’s right to education, and countries have since been working to offer disabled people access to regular schools. Nevertheless, segregated education services or services with an integration aim still persist. Moreover, poverty causes many students to drop out of school, or never to enroll at all. Each country has vulnerable or marginalized groups in its population. The work being done, from an inclusive perspective, follows two main routes: reorienting education systems toward inclusivity; and offering these groups affirmative actions to ensure their regular attendance at mainstream schools that have quality programs for all. If CA-DR countries are to achieve inclusive education, they must fulfill two requirements. Firstly, they must develop intersectorial interventions that revert causes of exclusion—education policies in isolation are unable to do that. Secondly, they must take action to ensure that inclusive education is achieved in practice in the classroom. There are advances toward inclusion, but more work is needed to answer the question of how CA-DR countries can develop inclusive societies, based on social protection and quality education services for all, that give proper attention to diversity, practice equity, and promote social mobility. Bottom-up strategies are valuable in the effort to achieve inclusive education.

Article

Jane Abbiss and Eline Vanassche

A review of the field of practice-focused research in Initial Teacher Education (ITE) reveals four broad genres of qualitative research: case studies of teacher education programs and developments; research into student teacher experience and learning; inquiry into teacher educators’ own learning, identity, and beliefs; and conceptual or theory-building research. This is an eclectic field that is defined by variation in methodologies rather than by a few clearly identifiable research approaches. What practice-focused research in ITE has in common, though, is a desire on the behalf of teacher educator researchers to understand the complexity of teacher education and contribute to shifts in practice, for the benefit of student teachers and, ultimately, for learners in schools and early childhood education. In this endeavor, teacher educator researchers are presented with a challenge to achieve a balance between goals of local relevance and making a theoretical contribution to the broader field. This is a persistent tension. Notwithstanding the capacity for practice-focused research to achieve a stronger balance and greater relevance beyond the local, key contributions of practice-focused research in ITE include: highlighting the importance of context, questioning what might be understood by “improvement” in teacher education and schooling, and pushing back against research power structures that undervalue practice-focused research. Drawing on a painting metaphor, each genre represents a collection of sketches of practice-focused research in ITE that together provide the viewer with an overview of the field. However, these genres are not mutually exclusive categories as any particular research study (or sketch) might be placed within one or more groupings; for example, inquiry into teacher educators’ own learning often also includes attention to student teachers’ experiences and case studies of teacher education initiatives inevitably draw on theory to frame the research and make sense of findings. Also, overviewing the field and identifying relevant research is not as simple as it might first appear, given challenges in identifying research undertaken by teacher educators, differences in the positioning of teacher educators within different educational systems, and privileging of American (US) views of teacher education in published research, which was counteracted in a small way in this review by explicitly including voices located outside this dominant setting. Examples of different types of qualitative research projects illustrate issues in teacher education that matter to teacher educator researchers globally and locally and how they have sought to use a variety of methodologies to understand them. The examples also show how teacher educators themselves define what is important in teacher education research, often through small-scale studies of context-specific teacher education problems and practices, and how there is value in “smaller story” research that supports understanding of both universals and particularities along with the grand narratives of teacher education.

Article

Diana Gonçalves Vidal and André Paulilo

Over the past several decades, scholars have focused special attention on the relationship between schooling and culture. The first forays focused on curriculum matters, trying to understand how educational policies affected the selection of content and its dissemination in schools. More recently, the concept of school culture has emerged as a frame for researchers, thanks to its ability to problematize how teachers and pupils experience school in terms of time and space. Placing these individuals in the center of the schooling process, the concept of school culture enables scholars to create a more comprehensive analysis of what happens inside classrooms and schoolyards. This tool offers an opportunity for researchers and teachers to debate the merits of tradition and innovation in education, pay attention to material culture as a part of school practices, and consider school community as a social actor. The concept has become commonplace in the academic production in many areas, such as educational sociology, history of education, educational anthropology, philosophy of education, and educational psychology.

Article

Pamela Burnard

The term “interculturality” acknowledges the complexity of locations, identities, and modes of expression in a global world and the desire to raise awareness, foster intercultural dialogue, and facilitate understanding across and between cultures. Intercultural arts is a critical component of interculturality. One of many global educational imperatives is to further understanding and engage critically in what constitutes intercultural arts. Intercultural arts practitioners and researchers play a significant role in this undertaking. A close examination of intercultural arts work and encounters unravels complex relationships among arts disciplines and ways to conceptualize and understand intercultural arts travels. Intercultural arts research sheds new insights into shared cultural and intercultural futures that need to be reimagined and co-created with a sense of ethical obligations, exploration, openness, and reflexivity. This leads to embracing a multiperspective worldview that addresses and celebrates the embodied nature of intercultural arts practices across global contexts: a worldview that is continually constructed, dynamic, and fluid, existing both within and between locations, and that connotes a particular type of ethical educational space. The study of interculturality in today’s society in general, and in actual intercultural arts practice in particular, is indispensable. For educators who want to engage in researching their professional practice in the “field” of intercultural arts, “field” is a useful agricultural metaphor for the various processes and tools used in researching intercultural arts practice. Social researchers talk, for example, about “entering the field” and “gathering” data as if venturing into the world to harvest material for processing (analysis) before its eventual distribution and consumption by a society hungrily seeking new information to build up its body of knowledge and increase its capacity for growth and improvement. However, for education practitioners researching their own professional practice, and their journey into and focus on “intercultural arts,” it will feel much more fluid and uncertain than being on dry land, and it will require them to locate and address the overlap of practice and ethical agendas in educational research.

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

Inclusive education is a widely accepted pedagogical and policy principle, but its genesis has been long and, at times, difficult. For example, in 1948, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights included statements about rights and freedoms that have, over the decades, been used to promote inclusive educational practices. Article 26 of the Declaration stated that parents “have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children.” This declaration later helped some parent groups and educators to advocate for equal access to schooling in regular settings, and for parental choice about where their child would be educated. Following the widespread influence of the human rights-based principle of normalization, the concept of inclusive education received major impetus from the Education of All Handicapped Children Act in the United States in 1975, the United Nations (UN) International Year of Disabled Persons in 1981, and the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in 2006. A major focus of the UN initiatives has been the right of people with a disability to participate fully in society. This focus has obvious consequences for the way education is provided to students with a disability or other additional educational needs. For many years, up to the last quarter of the 20th century, the major focus for such students was on the provision of separate specialized services, with limited attention to the concept of full participation in society. Toward the end of the 20th century and into the 21st century, there has been increasing acceptance, through parental action, systemic policy, and government legislation, of inclusivity as a basic philosophical principle. Both the type of instruction that should be provided to students with a disability and the location of that instruction in regular or specialized settings have been topics for advocacy and research, sometimes with mixed and/or controversial conclusions.

Article

Understanding, shaping, and mediating the unique contexts and communities in which schools are located offers a unique approach to educational-leadership preparation. The emerging frame of PLACE describes a place-based leading and learning framework for educational-leadership preparation that uses a combination of concept-based curricula that includes practice and problem-solving in context, bridging culture and community, arts and humanities pedagogies, creative evaluation and engagement, and leadership for context rather than for region that includes followership models. Place-based educational leadership focuses on context-based professional practice that has a direct bearing on the well-being of individuals in the school ecology and the larger ecologies in which they live and work.

Article

Increasingly, around the world, educators are being expected to draw upon research-based evidence in planning, implementing, and evaluating their activities. Evidence-based strategies comprise clearly specified teaching methods and school-level factors that have been shown in controlled research to be effective in bringing about desired outcomes in a specified population of learners and under what conditions, in this case those with special educational needs/disabilities taught in special schooling, whether it be in separate schools or classrooms or in inclusive classrooms. Educators could, and should, be drawing upon the best available evidence as they plan, implement, and evaluate their teaching of such learners. Since around 2010 there has been a growing commitment to evidence-based education. This has been reflected in: 1. legislation: for example, the 2015 Every Student Succeeds Act in the United States, which encourages the use of specific programs and practices that have been rigorously evaluated and defines strong, moderate, and promising levels of evidence for programs and practices; 2. the creation of centers specializing in gathering and disseminating evidence-based education policies and practices, brokering connections between policy-makers, practitioners, and researchers; and 3. a growing body of research into effective strategies, both in general and with respect to learners with special educational needs. Even so, in most countries there is a significant gap between what researchers have found and the educational policies and practices implemented by professionals. Moreover, some scholars criticize the emphasis on evidence-based education, particularly what they perceive to be the prominence given to quantitative or positivist research in general and to randomized controlled trials in particular. In putting evidence-based strategies into action, a five-step model could be employed. This involves identifying local needs, selecting relevant interventions, planning for implementation, implementing, and examining and reflecting on the interventions.

Article

Luis Sebastián Villacañas de Castro and Darío Luis Banegas

The juxtaposition of action and research conveys a sense of the richness and complexity of action research, yet it does not entirely translate its nuanced and sophisticated philosophy. In turn, an understanding of this philosophy is crucial for grasping action research’s radical originality. In this context at least, it may be more accurate to define action research by drawing on the term practice, even though it does not form part of the basic conceptual pair. Not only does practice make it easier for us to trace the constellation of philosophical influences behind the theory and practice of action research—from pragmatism to postmodernism, including Greek philosophy and Marxist and psychoanalytic schools of thought—but also to identify where these influences end and action research emerges as the bearer of a nontransferable view. Beyond this, at the heart of action research lies a structural affinity with singular social practices, which are its key ontological sites—that is, the context where action research in each case fills its epistemological and ethical dimensions with meaning. What kind of knowledge does action research aim to produce? What behaviors do action researchers engage in? Compared to other research paradigms in the social sciences—the field of education included—the specific quality of action research has to do with how its epistemological and ethical dimensions are shaped not from without but from within any given social practice. This is the key to its specific ecology. In action research, the epistemological and ethical realms do not stand beyond or above the situated social practices, with their values, principles of procedure, knowledges, and discourses, including their own literacies and modalities—in short, their own internal cultures. Action research conceives and presents itself as a rational and systematic way for members of the different social practices to build and rebuild their own epistemologies and ethics precisely by drawing on, and selecting from, their own internal cultures. How does this ecological perspective translate itself in education? Education is one of the key areas in which action research is generally applied, together with welfare and healthcare. Yet apart from the specific use of action research by educators, action research carries within itself a specific educational philosophy (and a political philosophy as well) which underlies its application, regardless of the specific social practice in which it takes place. In the same way that action research is politically democratic, educationally speaking action research is participatory, meaning that learning, improvement, or development can only be realized through a self-determining process in which people act and research freely upon and among themselves. This is precisely what action research facilitates in the different social practices. Action research is always educational, whether one develops it in education, welfare, or healthcare. As a result, action research has contributed a clear-cut pedagogical model that some critical educators have already imported to their own educational institutions and practices: youth participatory action research.

Article

Investigative practices, including research methodologies, approaches, processes, as well as knowledge dissemination efforts continue to evolve within inclusive or special education. So too do such practices evolve within related fields such as nursing, psychology, community-based care, health promotion, etc. There are several research approaches that promote the tools required to effect inclusive education, such as: evidence-based practice (EBP), EBP in practice, creative secondary uses of (anonymous) data, collective impact, qualitative evidence synthesis (QES), and lines of action (LOA). Other approaches that promote a more inclusive education research agenda more generally, include action research and participatory action research, inclusive research, appreciative inquiry, and arts-based educational research.