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Promoting inquiry-based working: Exploring the interplay between school boards, school leaders and teachers

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Abstract

Inquiry-based working contributes to teacher professionalization and educational improvements. This article presents the key findings of a qualitative case study carried out in three primary schools in the Netherlands. That study focused on the inquiry-based working of school boards, school leaders and teachers, with the goal of better understanding how schools establish an inquiry-based culture. As a follow-up to a nationwide survey, this case study used semi-structured interviews, observations and document analysis to gain insight into the interplay between school boards, school leaders and teachers regarding inquiry-based working. It identified multiple ways in which educators can encourage others to work in an inquiry-based manner. These approaches are not only top-down (i.e., from school board to school leader, and from school leader to teacher) but also bottom-up (i.e., from teacher to school leader, and from school leader to school board).

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... Leadership aimed at inquiry-based working is a factor of huge importance in creating a culture of inquiry (Godfrey 2016, Godfrey and Brown 2018, Godfrey and Greany 2017. On the one hand it concerns formal and informal leaders acting as role models (Given et al. 2009, Cantalini-Williams et al. 2015, Uiterwijk-Luijk and Volman 2017 and on the other creating team involvement in inquiry-based learning. This can be achieved by sharing responsibility (distributed leadership) (Given et al. 2009, Godfrey andBrown 2018) and, for example, collectively determining research themes which fit in with policy and developments in the school (Cantalini-Williams et al. 2015;Godfrey and Brown 2018). ...
... It is important that research is facilitated, that is to say, the means and support that foster inquiry-based working are made available. The most influential facilitating factor, making time available, was pointed out in earlier research (DeLuca et al. 2017, Cochran-Smith 1992, Cantalini-Williams et al. 2015, Uiterwijk-Luijk and Volman 2017; time to undertake research, for reading and interpreting data and literature, dialogue and interchange of research and collective reflection. Coaching by experts, involving external expertise and experience with inquiry-based working is another form of facilitation (Given et al. 2009, Cantalini-Williams et al. 2015, DeLuca et al. 2017. ...
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A culture of inquiry in schools, where teachers work collaboratively and inquiry based, can contribute to the quality of education. It is assumed that teachers of research-intensive teacher education programmes can play an important role in creating such a culture. Little is known, however, about how these teachers function. This case-study research investigates how primary school teachers of research-intensive teacher education programmes in the Netherlands contribute to a culture of inquiry and which factors influence this. In five schools semi-structured interviews were conducted with a teacher and her/his school leader. Also school policy documents were analysed and team meetings were observed. The teachers contributed to a culture of inquiry in their schools in three ways, by 1) initiating collective critical reflection on school policy, 2) sharing knowledge with colleagues and 3) initiating innovations. According to the teachers, self-efficacy in collaboration with colleagues in inquiry-based working and a formal research position in the school facilitates the contribution they can make to a culture of inquiry.
... The term of the school committee and the school board is interchangeable in many countries. For instance, the United States of America, OECD countries, and the Netherland use the term of school board [14,15], which has a wide-ranging scope of autonomy relating to the personnel matters, buildings' infrastructure, resources allocation and student assessment [16]. In contrast, in Indonesia, the term of the school committee is more well-known. ...
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p>The study intended to elaborate on the role of the school committee in addressing and promoting the implementation of the child-friendly school model to create a positive school climate and atmosphere. This qualitative approach research adopted a comparative case study since two primary schools become a unit of research analysis. Two primary schools, a public and private primary school in which both of them are located in Jakarta as a study site. The researchers obtained the data through observation, interviews, and document analysis. The research has revealed that the school committees, both in public and private schools, bring a vital contribution to help the schools in terms of supporting and controlling the implementation of the child-friendly school model with several different perspectives. The participation of the school committee is highly needed in monitoring the activity of the learning process toward the quality of school life and in bridging the communication between schools and students' parents, particularly in promoting the model of child-friendly school.</p
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Research-intensive teacher education programmes aim to educate teachers to work in an inquiry-based manner, meaning that they should be able to use and conduct research to reflect on their teaching. Little is known, however, about how graduates of these programmes function and develop as teachers. In this study seven graduates of Dutch academic teacher education programmes were followed to investigate how their inquiry-based working developed during their first years of teaching. Interviews were conducted with these graduates and their school leaders over three subsequent years. Their involvement in inquiry-based working was found to shift from the classroom level to the school organisational level, with this shift being dependent on individual and organisational conditions. The results suggest ways to support teachers’ professional development in inquiry-based working.
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Although distributed leadership and inquiry-based working are relevant topics to primary education, there has been little discussion about how team members perceive these practices as meaningful in their day-to-day work. Following on from prior quantitative studies, the present study conducted a case study in which semi-structured interviews were employed to collect data. The findings suggested that teachers and their principal perceive distributed leadership and inquiry-based working as crucial to realizing educational change. More specifically, the case study showed how inquiry-based working could support distributed leadership and teachers’ ability to take the initiative to create educational change. Specifying the relationships could help teachers and school leaders to consciously leverage distributed leadership and inquiry-based working techniques to fully meet students’ needs.
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In the Netherlands, academically oriented programmes for primary teacher education have recently been established. The aim of this study is to provide insight in the extent to which graduates from these academically oriented programmes are involved in different forms of inquiry-based working and which factors promote or hinder this involvement. Interviews with 10 academically educated teachers and their school leaders and observations of team meetings were used for this exploratory study. Three forms of inquiry-based working could be distinguished; systematic reflection, using research and conducting research. For most teachers, systematic reflection was part of their daily practice and most teachers made use of research; only a minority was involved in conducting research. Factors like ownership and the role of the teacher in the team were related to teachers’ involvement in inquiry-based working. Teachers with a formal research function in inquiry-based working in their schools appeared to be more involved in inquiry-based working, especially in conducting research.
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Inquiry-based working by teachers includes working with an inquiry habit of mind, being data literate, contributing to a culture of inquiry at the school level, and creating a culture of inquiry at the classroom level. Inquiry-based working has been found to contribute to educational improvements and the professionalisation of teachers. This study investigates the relationship between psychological factors – attitude, experienced social pressure, self-efficacy and collective efficacy – and inquiry-based working by teachers. Questionnaire data were collected from a representative sample of 249 Dutch teachers. The results show a significant relationship between self-efficacy and all aspects of inquiry-based working. In addition, collective efficacy, attitude and experienced social pressure are all related to aspects of inquiry-based working. School leaders and teacher educators who aim to stimulate inquiry-based working should not only focus on increasing teachers’ inquiry skills, but also on psychological factors related to inquiry-based working.
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Although a relatively new idea in the U.S., weighted student funding (WSF) for individual schools has a long history in the Netherlands. This country of about 16.5 million people has been using a version of WSF for all its primary schools (serving children from age 4 to 12) for 25 years. In this article we describe and evaluate the Dutch system and explore what insights there might be for the U.S., taking into account the very different cultural and normative contexts of the two countries. We find that, compared to those with few weighted students, Dutch schools with high proportions of weighted students have almost 60 percent more teachers per pupil as well as more support staff per teacher. Even these large resource advantages, however, are not sufficient by themselves to eliminate all quality shortfalls in the high-weight schools, where quality is measured by school policies and practices. We conclude that weighted student funding for schools within districts in the U.S. is not likely to deliver the same highly progressive funding patterns as in the Netherlands because of the complex, multilayered U.S. education system and the absence of a political consensus in favor of generous weights. (C) 2011 by the Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management.
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This article outlines a new approach to the study learning and the improvement of education. The approach consists of two elements: a theory of learning cultures and a cultural theory of learning. Learning cultures are different from learning contexts or learning environments in that they are to be understood as the social practices through which people learn. Learning cultures therefore do not exist objectively, but only in function of concrete practices of learning. This requires that the study of learning needs to, 'follow the learning'. In the cultural theory of learning, learning itself is seen as practical, embodied and social. While learning is often seen as a descriptive term, it is argued that the use of the word learning always implies a value judgement about change (for example change in cognition, behaviour or disposition). Unlike the study of physical objects such as trees or planets, the study of learning therefore needs to start from a conception of good or desirable learning. This becomes even more important when the cultural approach is utilised for the improvement of educational processes and practices. It is argued that in such cases we need to move from the notion of learning cultures to the notion of educational cultures. An educational culture is defined as a learning culture that is framed by particular purposes. A cultural approach therefore not only provides new ways for educational research and educational improvement, but also highlights that both research and improvement can only proceed on the basis of judgements about what counts as good or desirable learning.
Article
Research has confirmed that leader behavior influences group and organizational behavior, but we know less about how senior leaders ensure that group and organizational members implement their decisions. Most organizations have multiple layers of leaders, implying that any single leader does not lead in isolation. We focused on how the consistency of leadership effectiveness across hierarchical levels influenced the implementation of a strategic initiative in a large health care system. We found that it was only when leaders' effectiveness at different levels was considered in the aggregate that significant performance improvement occurred. We discuss the implications of these findings for leadership research, specifically, that leaders at various levels should be considered collectively to understand how leadership influences employee performance.
Using data to support educational improvement. educational assessment, evaluation and accountability
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Exploring scientific research disposition from the perspective of academics
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Good education in an age of measurement: Ethics, politics, democracy
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Scholen voor morgen. Samen op weg naar duurzame kwaliteit in het primair onderwijs. Kwaliteitsagenda Primair Onderwijs
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Miles MB, Huberman AM and Saldaña J (2014) Qualitative Data Analysis: A Methods Sourcebook. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. Ministry of Education, Culture and Science (2007) Scholen voor morgen. Samen op weg naar duurzame kwaliteit in het primair onderwijs. Kwaliteitsagenda Primair Onderwijs. [Schools for tomorrow. Together towards sustainable quality in primary education. Quality Agenda Primary Education]. Den Haag: Ministerie van Onderwijs, Cultuur & Wetenschap.