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Benchlearning – an action research program for transforming leadership and school practices

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Abstract

In this paper, we investigate how a Benchlearning program for principals in Norway and Sweden supports changes in Norwegian principals’ leadership practices. The program design builds on principles for practical action research. The aim of the program was to inspire changes in the principals’ leadership practices that encourage innovative school practices. The program includes learning modes such as theoretical inputs, sharing experiences, school visits, training, and trialling of new leadership practices. Drawing on data from participants’ reflections on their learning and changes in their leadership practices, we identify transformations that have been realized and the ways in which the Benchlearning program has supported the transformations. The findings indicate that the program can be seen as a systematic and disciplined process, a ‘meta-practice’, that supports changes in the principals’ leadership practices, their understandings, and the conditions of their practice. More specifically, the findings show that the theoretical inputs and practical learning modes stimulated transformations of the principals’ thinking about leadership practices, what they do in practice and how they relate to others. In particular, the study suggests that the principals’ active participation in trialling new leadership practices in their own schools stimulated transformations.

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... School principals' theoretical knowledge, experience and practice are crucial for their professional development (Huber, 2011). The study, analysis and elaboration of the principals' experience, as well as its link with theory, can bring about changes in the principals' daily practice, particularly when it involves their active participation, (Heck and Hallinger, 2014;Aas et al., 2020). Learning through practice can also nurture a positive learning culture in schools, enhancing the quality of teaching and students' learning (Gu, 2011) and creating an environment where mainstream theories can be challenged. ...
... Of course, the new framework of understanding and the ways in which these new understandings relate to his daily practice are necessary for transformation in practice (Aas et al., 2020). Moreover, although the principal had the opportunity to delve into his theories and practices, when he identified inconsistencies he turned to another educational theory, namely LAP. ...
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This article addresses the key leadership competencies of school principals and how these competencies can be mastered. We argue that combining Action Research with Critical Discourse Analysis can serve as a pathway to enhancing school principals’ professional development. The paper presents an Action Research project conducted in a Junior High School in Crete, Greece. The main research material collected included the transcriptions of principal-teachers’ assemblies, analyzed using Critical Discourse Analysis. Interesting findings emerged, shedding light on issues like who speaks, how much, the quality of turn-taking, narratives, role of context, etc. Drawing on the Critical Discourse Analysis findings and his conversations with the research team, the principal’s journal shows how his reflection deepens gradually, while new theoretical perspectives open. We conclude that, under specific circumstances, Action Research enhanced with Critical Discourse Analysis can enable changes in leadership, contributing to principals’ professional development.
... School principals' theoretical knowledge, experience and practice are crucial for their professional development (Huber, 2011). The study, analysis and elaboration of the principals' experience, as well as its link with theory, can bring about changes in the principals' daily practice, particularly when it involves their active participation, (Heck and Hallinger, 2014;Aas et al., 2020). Learning through practice can also nurture a positive learning culture in schools, enhancing the quality of teaching and students' learning (Gu, 2011) and creating an environment where mainstream theories can be challenged. ...
... Of course, the new framework of understanding and the ways in which these new understandings relate to his daily practice are necessary for transformation in practice (Aas et al., 2020). Moreover, although the principal had the opportunity to delve into his theories and practices, when he identified inconsistencies he turned to another educational theory, namely LAP. ...
Article
Full-text available
This article addresses the key leadership competencies of school principals and how these competencies can be mastered. We argue that combining Action Research with Critical Discourse Analysis can serve as a pathway to enhancing school principals’ professional development. The paper presents an Action Research project conducted in a Junior High School in Crete, Greece. The main research material collected included the transcriptions of principal-teachers’ assemblies, analyzed using Critical Discourse Analysis. Interesting findings emerged, shedding light on issues like who speaks, how much, the quality of turn-taking, narratives, role of context, etc. Drawing on the Critical Discourse Analysis findings and his conversations with the research team, the principal’s journal shows how his reflection deepens gradually, while new theoretical perspectives open. We conclude that, under specific circumstances, Action Research enhanced with Critical Discourse Analysis can enable changes in leadership, contributing to principals’ professional development.
... By building learning centred around leaders' experiences and practices, theory and practice can be linked together through collaborative reflexive activities (Aas 2017a;Dempster, Lovett, and Fluckiger 2011;Huber 2011;Robertson 2013). In other words, school leaders being active and involved in development processes in their own schools is crucial to their personal and their schools' learning as well as for remaking practices (Aas, Vennebo, and Halvorsen 2019;Vennebo 2016). This corresponds to practical action research (Kemmis 2009), building on collaborative and self-reflective principles through which practitioners remake their practices for themselves. ...
... As mentioned earlier, theory and practice can be linked together through collaborative reflexive activities (Aas 2017a;Dempster, Lovett, and Fluckiger 2011;Huber 2011;Robertson 2013). According to the practice architecture regarding the conditions of sayings, doings and relatings, we can see that both facilitating structures of collective reflections and the leaders' skills in leading these processes seem to be crucial for schools' learning and remaking practices (Aas, Vennebo, and Halvorsen 2019;Vennebo 2016). ...
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This research study focuses on school leadership groups taking part in an action research project (AR project) within schools in a Norwegian municipality. The study aims to show and discuss how action research (AR) adopted in school change can help build collective leadership capacity in school leadership groups. Combined with the theory of expansive learning, the theories of critical participatory action research and practice architectures frame the study. The study identified two essential actions for building leadership capacity in school leadership groups: performing an empirical and historical analysis of the problem space worked on and conducting collective reflections regarding their experiences in the development work process. Furthermore, the study shows how external leadership supervisors can contribute as critical friends in ways that may be significant for capacity building in school leadership groups. The study concludes with two implications related to collective capacity building for school leadership groups and one methodological implication for performing action research.
... La investigación-acción como eje articulador aporta formación de habilidades reflexivas, pero también desencadena procesos de cambio de prácticas, aspecto altamente documentado (Aas et al., 2019;Campayo-Muñoz & Cabedo-Mas, 2018;Díaz-Bazo, 2017; Van Velzen, 2017) y que se convierte en el sentido final de una formación en ejercicio de la profesión. Este enfoque cautela la contextualización del proceso formativo. ...
... La IA y los procesos reflexivos que desarrolla, generan conocimiento metacognitivo y practican fuertemente la solución de problemas, ambas habilidades consideradas formas de pensamiento de orden superior (Van Velzen, 2017).Aspectos destacados propios de un proceso de IA identifican cambios en las prácticas o en las creencias, la posibilidad de reflexión sobre sus problemas, la búsqueda de soluciones innovadoras, el trabajo colaborativo, la toma de decisiones informada, el desarrollo de la capacidad de crítica y la posibilidad de aprender de la propia práctica(Díaz-Bazo, 2017). Una investigación reciente sobre procesos de IA en conservatorios de música(Campayo-Muñoz & Cabedo-Mas, 2018), refuerza el valor de seminarios impartidos sobre IA por pares como un recurso que promueve la reflexión y transformación de la práctica docente.Se ha mostrado el valor de la IA para la formación de formadores de lenguas extranjeras en educación superior potenciando su rol investigador, cuya experiencia destaca la posibilidad de trabajo en equipo y con la guía de un tutor que los oriente como fortalezas para un proceso formativo de este tipo(Burns & Westmacott, 2018).Más recientemente, los hallazgos de un programa para formar a directores de escuela noruegos, basado en el método de investigación-acción, ha mostrado cómo un programa formativo de este tipo puede ser concebido como un proceso sistemático y disciplinado, que apoya cambios en las prácticas, en la comprensión de los fenómenos y creencias sobre liderazgo directivo(Aas, Vennebo, & Halvorsen, 2019). En particular, el estudio atribuye al involucramiento práctico y prueba de nuevas prácticas de liderazgo por los directivos el factor clave que provocaría las transformaciones observadas. ...
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Frente al desafío de contar con enfoques formativos para docentes y directivos en ejercicio que atiendan las complejidades del fenómeno educativo, es necesario evidenciar la efectividad de diversas metodologías formativas. El artículo describe los resultados de una investigación cuyo objetivo fue determinar la efectividad de un curso en liderazgo para la innovación y cambio en las instituciones escolares, orientado a docentes y directivos escolares en ejercicio, y conocer la valoración de éstos respecto a la estrategia didáctica aplicada y su articulación con las TIC, al identificar factores del diseño formativo que favorecen la transferencia de los aprendizajes al contexto educativo. Para ello, se utilizó una metodología cuantitativa, a través de la aplicación de un pre y post-test de conocimientos a una muestra de 168 participantes del curso; y luego una encuesta de satisfacción aplicada en tres cohortes, respondida por 123 participantes. Los resultados muestran una mejora estadísticamente significativa en los conocimientos sobre habilidades directivas de los participantes, lo cual evidenció la efectividad del curso. Por otra parte, el enfoque aplicado que orientó el curso, sustentado en la investigación-acción y el aula invertida desde una modalidad b-learning, fue altamente valorado por los docentes por cuanto propicia actividades aplicadas y contextualizadas, trabajo autónomo conjugado con reflexión colaborativa. Lo que permite fortalecer la autoconfianza profesional, favoreciendo a la vez la posterior transferencia de los aprendizajes.
... Bush (2012) as well as Korach and Cosner (2017) have also noted that ways to improve school leaders' development, particularly learning activities during their education, require substantially more research attention. Nevertheless, several studies have shown that learning activities grounded in problem-based learning and action research can promote school leaders' double-loop learning and actions based on new knowledge in their leading practice (Sappington et al. 2010, Wood and Govender 2013, Aas et al. 2019. Other recommended learning activities that may contribute to school leaders' learning and actions include group coaching, case study analysis and mentoring (Aas and Vavik 2015, Daresh 2004, Bush 2012, Ärlestig 2012. ...
... Thus, our findings indicate the importance of a long-time perspective in school leadership training programmes. Our results also reinforce previous recommendations to include action research in school leaders' education to promote learning and better prepare school leaders for their assignments (Sappington et al. 2010, Wood and Govender 2013, Aas et al. 2019). However, the results also show that organising this kind of learning activity can be challenging and even provoke resistance. ...
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Furnishing novice school leaders with the knowledge and skills they require to be successful in practice has proved difficult. This paper describes and analyses an attempt to link learning and school leading practices in their education: a three-year learning activity within the Swedish National School Leadership Training Programme intended to develop novice school leaders’ ability to analyse, critically examine, formulate and implement school improvement strategies. The theoretical point of departure is a social constructionist and situated perspective on learning. Drawing on data from 120 reports submitted by school leaders at the end of years two (n = 60) and three (n = 60) of the programme, and nine audio-recorded conversations between groups of the leaders, we identify critical aspects of the learning process. The findings indicate that the novice school leaders initially perceived the learning activity to be challenging, but it gradually became a mediational mean and boundary object in and between their practices. Critical elements for this were the activity’s design and length, systematic approach, supportive tools and ‘forcing moments’. We argue that linking training practice to school leading practice may have positive effects on novice school leaders’ professional development.
... However, another crucial level for achieving change of practices is the active participation and involvement of formal leadership. As others have pointed out, educational leaders are the key to successful developmental work and sustaining of change in educational practice (Woodrow and Busch 2008;Wilkinson et al. 2010;Aubrey, Godfrey, and Harris 2012;Kemmis et al. 2014;Aas, Vennebo, and Halvorsen 2020;Sønsthagen and Glosvik 2020). However, in order to meet such requests, it is necessary to identify the terms and conditions that affect the possibilities for educational leaders to work with change of practice (Kemmis and Grootenboer 2008;Kemmis et al. 2014;Rönnerman, Edwards-Groves, and Grootenboer 2018;Nehez and Blossing 2020). ...
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This article explores the conditions required for preschool managers to support change through research aimed at developing educational practice. It examines factors that enable and constrain support of change and the arrangements that can be identified in relation to these factors. The results suggest that arrangements that support a more technical and accountable form of practice constrain managers' capacity to support research aiming to change practice. However, the findings also show thatmanagers do have possibilities to support such research. One key factor is whether the research is in line with their goals and efforts. Another is whether they have trust in the researchers and the educators implementing the change. The results also indicate that one way for leaders to enable change is by creating meaningful spaces for sharing experiences and developing practices. This involves the reframing of leadership practices into a more democratic and collaborative approach, and implies that cultural-discursive, material-economic, and social-political arrangements are needed to support such approach. Hence, for research projects aimed at changing educational practice, it is necessary to identify the specific arrangements connected to that practice. This is especially important in times when practice-based research is promoted as a way to attain educational goals. ARTICLE HISTORY
... In Norway, education leaders' benchmarking activities improve innovation in education management and leadership. In a study by Aas et al. (2019), principal benchmarking activities increased leadership and education management innovations. The benchmarking project was instituted to improve the leadership skills of university leaders by changing their perspectives. ...
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Innovation in higher education management and leadership has experienced a continuous increase in demand, worldwide. The emergence of global events, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, has accelerated the adoption and implementation of this innovation. Furthermore, technological advancement can be attributed to changes in educational management and leadership. The use of business models, theories, and methods such as the Education Management Information System (EMIS) has improved the collection, analysis, interpretation, storage, and retrieval of data to increase how they make well-informed decisions. Therefore, the strategies employed in higher education management and leadership have undergone many changes and updates. However, further research is required to ensure that best practices, evidence, and data-driven methods are used to improve staff/follower satisfaction and high performance of students and teachers in higher education institutions. This study explores the impact of innovation on management and leadership in higher education institutions. Findings from several countries show a strong positive correlation between increase in innovation and better educational management and leadership. Additionally, openness to change and happiness of stakeholders in higher education institutions increases when leaders and educational management are trained through conferences and benchmarking activities. Hence, using emerging technology and openness to change through education, awareness creation, and training, the level of innovation in universities and other higher education institutions increases, which in turn promotes performance and productivity. Received: 11 August 2021 / Accepted: 3 October 2021 / Published: 5 November 2021
... En el ámbito de la mejora de las prácticas pedagógicas se ha documentado la importancia de desarrollar la reflexión docente como elemento fundamental (Perrenaud, 2004;Shulman, 2017). En esta línea, la corriente de investigación-acción educativa basada en la reflexión docente ha mostrado cómo favorece la innovación y el cambio (Aas, Vennebo, & Halvorsen, 2019;Carr, 1993;Romero, Montt, Maregatti-Solano, Gracia, & Segura, 2020;Van Velzen, 2017), lo que se traduce en una oportunidad formativa a integrar en las estrategias y políticas de las instituciones de ESTP. ...
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La educación superior técnico profesional en Chile, en su vocación de vinculación permanente con el sector productivo y social, no puede estar ajena a las transformaciones sociales que supone la llamada Cuarta Revolución Industrial. Esto exige una permanente revisión de los procesos formativos, formas de relacionamiento con el entorno y actualización de la gestión institucional tendientes a la mejora y adaptación a un mundo cambiante, donde la innovación emerge como una vía posible, a la vez que un desafío. La presente investigación indaga sobre las condiciones institucionales para la instalación de la innovación educativa en la educación superior técnica profesional, considerando la realidad de Institutos Profesionales y Centros de Formación Técnica, que en total sumaron 12. Para ello se utilizó un enfoque metodológico mixto que da cuenta de las percepciones de 3 actores claves: directivos, jefes de carrera y docentes, a través de entrevistas semi-estructurada y cuestionarios en línea. Los resultados permitieron realizar una caracterización de docentes y jefes de carrera de este nivel formativo. Entre los principales hallazgos se identificó como facilitadores de la innovación educativa: la permanente vinculación con el sector productivo, una cultura organizacional flexible, con liderazgos y estructuras intermedias orientadas a la innovación, y la cooperación inter e intra nivel. Las personas destacan el compromiso profesional y las creencias sobre el aprendizaje como elementos cruciales en el desarrollo de innovación educativa.
... En el ámbito de la mejora de las prácticas pedagógicas se ha documentado la importancia de desarrollar la reflexión docente como elemento fundamental (Perrenaud, 2004;Shulman, 2017). En esta línea, la corriente de investigación-acción educativa basada en la reflexión docente ha mostrado cómo favorece la innovación y el cambio (Aas, Vennebo, & Halvorsen, 2019;Carr, 1993;Romero, Montt, Maregatti-Solano, Gracia, & Segura, 2020;Van Velzen, 2017), lo que se traduce en una oportunidad formativa a integrar en las estrategias y políticas de las instituciones de ESTP. ...
Book
La presente investigación indaga sobre las condiciones institucionales para la instalación de la innovación educativa en la educación superior técnica profesional, considerando la realidad de Institutos Profesionales y Centros de Formación Técnica, que en total sumaron 12. Entre los principales hallazgos se identificó como facilitadores de la innovación educativa: la permanente vinculación con el sector productivo, una cultura organizacional flexible, con liderazgos y estructuras intermedias orientadas a la innovación, y la cooperación inter e intra nivel. Las personas destacan el compromiso profesional y las creencias sobre el aprendizaje como elementos cruciales en el desarrollo de innovación educativa.
... From the idea of complexity, approaches to change are more ecologically sensitive, providing a better understanding of the complexity and heterogeneity of the contextual and individual factors involved. Change is a negotiation between people representing diverse interests that challenge the existing school culture and power system (Aas et al., 2019). ...
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This article examines the leadership of school principals who, based on the narrative case of the Blueberry School, discuss how they as principals would have responded to a similar problematic situation regarding a school change process. The study is grounded in the context of the Norwegian National School Leadership Programme. Theoretically, the study is informed by cultural–historical activity theory. The findings exemplify how the principals’ responses encompass various viewpoints and arguments through which tensions inherent in the context of the change process are provoked and displayed. This study has three implications for school leadership and change. First, when principals experience problematic change processes at their school, they should take time to identify the tensions, discuss how to understand them and think through their implications for leadership. Second, leading these types of tension-laden change processes in schools requires analytic and reflective skills and training; thus, steps to strengthen these skills should be included in leadership programmes. Finally, there is a need for research focussing on how to conduct informed analysis to reveal tensions when problematic situations occur in school change processes. This is because informed analysis may lay the groundwork for how school leaders can utilise tensions as productive driving forces in change processes.
... The iterative nature is intrinsic to AR and can also be described as a spiral that narrows towards understanding and improving the crux of the problem. AR as methodology has matured and recent publications focus on different applications thereof (Aas et al. 2020;Halliday et al. 2019). The process of AR is described in the following phases, as provided by Baskerville (1999): ...
Article
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Action research (AR) is often used when doing research about social phenomena in the real-world, when change is part of the researcher’s intention. The researcher participates in the research environment with the intention of improving the social phenomenon of learning to program, and to learn from it. AR typically follows an iterative process of five phases, namely diagnosis; action planning; action taking; evaluation and specifying learning. Although the incorporation of the work of critical thinkers is promoted, to guide the intervention, linking the methodology itself to Kantian thinking is uncommon. This paper demonstrates how the three questions from Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason: What can I know? What can I do? and finally, What can I hope? may guide the AR method. We show how these can be utilized within the phases of AR to deepen understanding of the social phenomenon of learning to program. By focusing on a Kantian systems approach, as discussed by Werner Ulrich in his introduction of Critical Systems Heuristics, various conditioned realities can be considered within a real-world situation. The paper presents an AR study which focused on improving the programming skills of students, demonstrating the incorporation of the Kantian focal points into the AR cycle. It demonstrates that Kant’s respect for the humanity of others and the resulting hope in justice can guide the AR practitioner to effect improvement. By making a conscious effort to listen to the affected and to incorporate as many conditioned realities as possible, we were able to improve student engagement and interest in the programming module.
... These stimulate and advise changes in practices and understandings, and conditions of practices through individual and collective self-reflective transformation (Kemmis 2009). In such an approach, it is crucial that school leaders are active and involved in the development processes in their schools, in terms of their own and their staffs' learning and remaking of practices (Aas, Vennebo, and Halvorsen 2019). Cultural-historical activity theory (CHAT) offers an additional approach that corresponds to this line of research on organisational changes, in which tensions and contradictions are seen as driving forces. ...
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Background Developing collective professional capacities in schools is important for school improvement, and principals can initiate such developments. That is, by initiating and leading professional group discussions on teaching and learning, principals can influence teaching practices and, thereby, indirectly affect student outcomes and school improvement. However, research indicates that leading such discussions in communities of professionals can be a challenge for principals. Purpose The aim of this article is to explore and yield insight into how a conceptual model (the LPGD model) can support principals in guiding professional group discussions on school development and change. Method The study adopts a qualitative observational approach. Data were collected through observations of a pilot use of the model by principals who participated in the National School Leadership Programme in Norway. The data analysis was guided by cultural-historical activity theory (CHAT). Findings The analysis shows how the conceptual model can help school leaders to guide group discussions, especially when creating a shared understanding of the problems at hand and building collective commitments that are essential to improving teaching and learning practices. Conclusion This article highlights the need for school leaders to be supported to develop certain skills to lead professional discussions on school development – in particular, skills to help leaders in building a shared understanding of problems and collective commitments that are essential when improving teaching and learning practices.
... Leaders do not see reflections as something that is part of their daily leadership practice, but something that comes in addition. Critical friendship represents a possibility for reflections that can improve leaders' metacognitive skills, which gives them opportunities for learning to develop their capacities in the process (Aas, Vennebo, and Halvorsen 2019), confirmed by the participants in this study. ...
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There is a growing body of action research on school improvement and development. Many of these studies have found the use of critical friendship valuable in relation to teachers’ or principals’ practice. Yet, little attention has been paid to critical friendship at the school district level. This study explores how a superintendent and three principals changed their understandings through interaction with a critical friend. It draws on reflective conversations, written reflections and observations of meetings between the participants, and is framed within practical action research aimed at changing the participants’ understandings. We found that through a trust-building process the critical friend acted as a catalyst for systematic reflections, helping leaders to set aside time and space to reflect. This has contributed to new ways of talking and thinking and has enhanced the leaders’ system thinking.
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Purpose A number of empirical studies and evaluations in Norway and Sweden shows variabilities in the degree to which the municipalities succeed in their endeavors to support school principals’ instructional leadership practices. In response to this situation, the Norwegian and Swedish directorates of education have developed a joint collaborative design for practice learning of instructional leadership. Based on findings from two separate studies, the purpose of this paper is to contribute to theory development and improved practice for school district administrators and their subordinated school leaders. Design/methodology/approach The study draws on the data from participants who completed the program in June 2015, June 2016 and June 2017, respectively. The data are based on individual reflection documents from students on their learning and new leadership practices 4 months, 16 months and 28 months after the end of the program. Findings The project subjected to this study, labeled “Benchlearning,” involved learning from experiences of others, observational learning, dialogic group learning and in the final round translating what is learnt into the social and cultural context in which the individual school principal’s school is situated. When participating school principals experience observation-based learning together with trusted colleagues, followed by vicarious learning from these experiences in their schools, the authors see some facilitating factors to be of particular importance: learning infrastructure, digital tools, compulsory tasks associated with preparation and subsequent experiments with their teachers. Emerging from the analysis was a systematic balancing act of autonomy and structure running through the various learning activities. Finally, a strong evidence was found that developing core competence in digital learning and formative assessment among teaching staff required enhanced distributed leadership across the whole school organization. By sharing leadership tasks on instructional issues with teachers and other non-leaders, principals succeeded in leveling up instructional leadership significantly. Research limitations/implications The implications of the study can be summed up in the following four principles. First, policy makers should take into accounts the fact that principals’ motivation and willingness to initiate change processes can be created in a synergy between structured school visits and engagement in learning groups based on a sound theoretical foundation. Second, within a socially contracted practice in a well-designed learning group, it is possible to raise principals’ level of self-efficacy. Third, a systematic reflection process on authentic practice is an example of how principals can develop their metacognitive capacity and how knowledge can be transformed into new practice. Finally, educators should be trained to be process leaders in order to create a balance between demand and support in promoting principals’ learning of new instructional leadership practices. Practical implications School district administrators should take into accounts the fact that changing practices will be supported by sense-making processes involving discussions about how new instructional practices are justified. Specifically, shifts in talk and actions will also involve shifts in the ways people relate to each other and how they relate to their internal context. Further, leadership programs should include trying out new practices as the focal learning mode, accompanied by individual and collective reflective activities. Originality/value The findings of the study underscore the mutual interdependence of distributed leadership and student-centered focus accompanied with the school’s learning capacity as enabling conditions for principals’ practice learning in the field of instructional leadership.
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Forskere har over flere tiår studert skoleledelsesutvikling. Samtidig er det behov for en oppdatert vurdering av litteraturen som ser nærmere på hvilke tilnærminger til forskning som dominerer. Dette er nødvendig fordi vår kunnskap om fenomenet påvirkes av hvordan utvikling av skoleledelse studeres. Artikkelen presenterer en vurdering av litteraturen på dette feltet fra 1950 og fram til i dag, og målet er å undersøke hva vi har lært om utvikling av skoleledelse, identifisere dominerende spørsmål og metodologiske tilnærminger og diskutere sterke og svake sider ved eksisterende forskning. Analysen trekker veksler på Gunter og Ribbins rammeverk om ulike kunnskapstradisjoner og domener. Gjennomgangen viser for det første at utvikling av skoleledelse har ekspandert siden 1950 når det gjelder både formål, tilbydere, pedagogikk, innhold og forskningstilnærming. For det andre viser analysen at eksisterende forskning i mindre grad får fram hvordan ledelsesutvikling finner sted på tvers av ulike kontekster, over tid, og hvordan den inkluderer interaksjon mellom mange aktører hvor pedagogiske verktøy medierer utviklingen. Et hovedargument er at det er nødvendig å utvikle både den teoretiske og den metodologiske tilnærmingen hvis vi skal gripe og begripe hvordan utvikling av skoleledelse skjer i fremtiden. Nøkkelord: litteraturgjennomgang, skoleledelsesutvikling, forskningstradisjoner Abstract For several decades, researchers have studied school leadership development. However, the need exists for an updated literature review that pays heed to dominant research approaches, since the manner in which school leadership development is researched is consequential to our knowledge about the phenomenon. Thus, the aim of this study is to present a literature review that covers the period from the 1950s to the present, which examines what we have learned about school leadership development, identifies the dominant concerns and methodologies, and discusses the strengths and limitations of the existing research. Gunter and Ribbins’ conceptualization of different knowledge provinces is used to support this analysis. This review demonstrates that school leadership development has expanded since the 1950s in terms of purpose, providers, pedagogies, content, and research approaches. In addition to discussing the strengths of the research, the analysis reveals various limitations in how school leadership has been investigated. For example, this review finds that the research does not sufficiently capture the fact that leadership development takes place across settings and over time, and that it involves interactions with several actors and pedagogical tools. The author argues that the theoretical and methodological approaches must be further developed in order to better capture these matters relating to school leadership development in the future. Keywords: literature review, school leadership development, research traditions
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Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to test a multilevel, cross-classified model that seeks to illuminate the dynamic nature of relationships among leadership, teaching quality, and student learning in school improvement. The study’s primary goal is to shed light on the paths through which leadership influences student learning. At the school level, the model examines the mediating effect of the school’s instructional environment on leadership and student learning. At the classroom level, it examines how instructionally focussed leadership can moderate teacher effects on student learning. Then these multiple paths are examined in a single model that seeks to test and highlight the means by which leadership contributes to school improvement. Design/methodology/approach – The current study employed a multilevel longitudinal data set drawn from 60 primary schools in one state in the USA. Using a cross-classification approach to quantitative modeling, the research analyzes the complex cross-level interactions that characterize school-level and classroom level practices that contribute to school improvement and student learning. Findings – The results illustrate the utility of specifying multilevel relationships when examining the “paths” that link school leadership to student learning. First, leadership effects on student learning were fully mediated by the quality of the school’s instructional environment. Second, the findings indicated that the classroom-related paths examined in this study directly influenced the measures of student math achievement. Third, the research found that instructionally focussed school leadership moderated the effect of individual teachers on student learning. Fourth, the results suggest that school leaders can enhance student outcomes by creating conditions that lead to greater consistency in levels of effectiveness across teachers. Practical implications – The study makes substantive contributions to the global knowledge base on school improvement by testing and elaborating on the “paths” that link school leadership and student learning. More specifically, the findings offer insights into strategic targets that instructional leaders can employ to enhance teacher effectiveness and school improvement. Thus, these results both support and extend findings from prior cross-sectional and longitudinal studies of leadership and school improvement. Originality/value – This is the first study that has tested a conceptualization of leadership for learning in a single “cross-classified longitudinal model” capable of capturing interactions among leadership, classroom teaching processes and growth in student learning. The research illustrates one “state-of-the-art” methodological approach for analyzing longitudinal data collected at both the school and classroom levels when studying school improvement.
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This article focuses on the theoretical frame of action research and the teacher as researcher, working through a Norwegian Research Council‐funded project in a school that explored learning strategies for pupils’ subject and social development. Action research is here called research and development (R&D) work as the term envisages that research and development are being conducted at the same time. Additionally, the term reflects the fact that the research is conducted within the framework of activity theory and Engeström’s expansive learning circle in which work is termed R&D. The article describes the possibilities and challenges for both teachers and researchers cooperating in R&D projects. Reflection on observed teaching are presented as a central activity in development work, covering the form and content of reflective dialogues; quotations from teachers are provided to show how the teachers experienced observation and reflection. The article discusses whether teachers become researchers, or whether they only develop in their role as teachers. The close cooperation between teachers and researchers in this work is also presented as a model for further education for teachers in‐service and for the training of teacher students.
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While there is considerable evidence about the impact of instructional leadership on student outcomes, there is far less known about the leadership capabilities that are required to confidently engage in the practices involved. This article uses the limited available evidence, combined with relevant theoretical analyses, to propose a tentative model of the leadership capabilities required to engage in effective instructional leadership. Research is suggestive of the importance of three interrelated capabilities: (a) using deep leadership content knowledge to (b) solve complex school-based problems, while (c) building relational trust with staff, parents, and students. It is argued that there is considerable interdependence between these three capabilities, and fine-grained specification of each is less important than developing leadership frameworks, standards, and curricula that develop their skilful integration.
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Purpose This paper aims to present a research‐based model of leadership for learning. It argues that the field has made substantial progress over the past 40 years in identifying ways in which leadership contributes to learning and school improvement. Four specific dimensions of leading for learning are presented: values and beliefs, leadership focus, contexts for leadership, and sharing leadership. Design/methodology/approach The paper employs a review methodology but focuses especially on evidence from several recent empirical studies. While the author argues that progress has been made, limitations – especially with respect to linking leadership practice to different contexts – are noted. Findings The paper finds that significant progress has been made in identifying the means by which leadership impacts on learning. Research limitations/implications The key limitation in this research lies in the difficulty in linking leadership to its context. While progress is also beginning to be made in this area, it remains a limiting factor in interpreting the findings from this body of research. Practical implications The above limitation means that individual school leaders must still apply the findings both with caution and with an understanding of their own particular school context. Originality/value The paper extends prior reviews by its inclusion of findings from a series of important studies that have emerged since 2008.
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Although there has been a sizable growth spurt in empirical studies of shared leadership over the past decade, the bulk of this research has been descriptive. Relatively few published studies have investigated the impact of shared leadership on school improvement, and even fewer have studied effects on student learning. This longitudinal study examines the effects of collaborative leadership on school improvement and student reading achievement in 192 elementary schools in one state in the USA over a 4-year period. Using latent change analysis, the research found significant direct effects of collaborative leadership on change in the schools’ academic capacity and indirect effects on rates of growth in student reading achievement. In addition, the study identified three different growth trajectories among schools, each characterized by variations in associated school improvement processes. The study supports a perspective on leadership for learning that aims at building the academic capacity of schools as a means of improving student learning outcomes.
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Action research changes people’s practices, their understandings of their practices, and the conditions under which they practice. It changes people’s patterns of ‘saying’, ‘doing’ and ‘relating’ to form new patterns – new ways of life. It is a meta‐practice: a practice that changes other practices. It transforms the sayings, doings and relating that compose those other practices. Action research is also a practice, composed of sayings, doing and relating. Different kinds of action research – technical, practical and critical – are composed in different patterns of saying, doing and relating, as different ways of life. This paper suggests that ‘Education for Sustainability’, as an educational movement within the worldwide social movement responding to global warming, may be a paradigm example of critical action research.
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In this paper, we investigate a new national collaborative Benchlearning program for principals in Norway and Sweden. Four process leaders have been running the program. The aim is to give the participants the knowledge to develop a leadership practice and school environment that are more innovative. The program includes theoretical inputs, sharing experiences, school visits, training, and trialing of new leadership practices. Drawing on data from surveys, participants’ reflections, and the leaders’ descriptions of new leadership practice, we examine and identify successful and critical aspects of the learning process. The findings show that principals’ motivation and willingness to start change processes can be created in a synergy between structured school visits, work in learning groups, and a theoretical foundation. Working in groups across schools in two countries seems to enhance principals’ sense of efficacy, which in turn is shown to have a positive effect on their willingness to trial new practices. Two implications of the study are suggested. First, in the design of principal programs, systematic and critical reflection about authentic practice should be the basis. Second, educators should be trained to be process leaders who can support principals’ learning during a critical and social construction of a new practice.
Chapter
Team coaching is frequently confused with individual coaching, team facilitation, and team building. Coaching several individuals within a team or all the team members individually is not the same as coaching the team. Coaching the team differs from coaching individuals in several key ways. Firstly, there is a much lower level of confidentiality, so it is a lot harder and more time-consuming to build a high level of openness and trusting dialogue than one-to-one. The most effective team coaches had a portfolio of approaches for managing individual variations in pace of thinking, learning, and commitment. Team coaches have a lot more to think about, both overall and simultaneously, and hence might need a higher level of skills. One of the necessary skill sets might be facilitation but it is important to separate out the roles of facilitator and coach, even if they might sometimes overlap.
Thesis
Summary (The full version is accessible here: https://www.duo.uio.no/handle/10852/54523 or on request) This study investigates school leadership in innovative work in the context of school development processes in Norway. The aim of the study is to develop new insight into the complexities involved and the functions of leadership in this kind of work. The empirical context for the study is school development processes involving ICT. Specifically, the study examined two different development projects, analysing the work performed in the leadership teams responsible for running the projects. The data used for the analysis were drawn from the interactions that occurred in the team meetings. Using the third generation of cultural-historical activity theory (CHAT), the study examines innovative work as an interactional process through which newness is actualized and leads small-scale changes. Leadership is studied as the regulation and coordination that take place in the interactions consequential to the directions and outcomes produced. The study shows how development work is rendered innovative when pluralities of perspectives are externalized in team discussions oriented towards problems arising in the work. However, such innovation is conditional on the participants taking the lead in pursuing perspectives that become mediating resources and promoting actions that break away from the cultural-historical formation of work. The study shows that leadership in innovative work is constituted in the interplay between the hierarchical and distributed dimensions of agency and authority. The study also shows that leadership is not under the control of any of the involved actors or of any specific individuals. Instead, leadership emerges in grids of relations that are constituted and changed through group interactions driven by a myriad of motives and tensions. Based on these findings, the study discusses challenges of leadership functions in innovative work and their implications for leadership. Specifically, it explores how these challenges relate to dealing with complex problems and facilitating conditions for innovative work and how they require leadership to be concerned with organizing spaces in which potential new ways of working can be experimented with in a structured way. To gain further insight into leadership in innovative work, future research needs to take the emerging school development processes in places and spaces as the departure point for its analysis.
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Professional learning and development of school leaders are considered keys to educational change. However, a growing body of research has identified how difficult it is to design professional leadership programmes that make a difference in leaders’ professional practice. Drawing on the framework of expansive learning and data from the six-year National Principal Training Programme in Norway, a case study is presented as a narrative of the development of one principal to illuminate the process. This article demonstrates how leadership learning and development can occur through critical investigations of the school leaders’ own leadership roles and practices. Reflections on the tensions revealed that 360-degree interviews, group coaching, theoretical studies and adopting the new leadership practice increase the leaders’ metacognitive skills, self-awareness and context understanding, and motivation and confidence to transform their leadership practice. Professional development that is designed for a variety of opportunities for individual and collective reflections supports leaders to become learners with the capacity to make changes in their leadership practice, as well as in their school.
Chapter
Although national education systems are to some degree very stable, we know from earlier country descriptions that the Nordic countries do experience changes, affected by transnational influences. Many educational policy questions are recurrent over time. It is like a shuttle moving between different potential solutions, where international tendencies interact in the move towards new policy directions. One example is how the strong focus on student outcomes is spreading, shifting the focus from classroom processes to individual results. Another example is the changes in the governing system. All Nordic countries have experienced how strong national states were the prerequisite for organising national compulsory public school systems. There have however, parallel to the national responsibility, existed a local municipality responsibility for the organising of schools. The shared responsibility between different society levels has meant that over time the shuttle has shifted between centralisation, decentralisation and recentralisation. In all these changes international trends interact with the national context.
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This article is a summary of a report prepared for the University Council for Educational Administration Program Improvement Project for the Wallace Foundation. This explores the research base for educational leadership preparation programs, specifically examining literature on program features. The review covers context, candidates, faculty, curriculum, design, delivery, pedagogy, internships, student assessment, mentoring and coaching, comprehensive leadership development, and program evaluation. In addition to summarizing the major findings in these program feature areas, the article provides a critical evaluation of the substantive and methodological gaps and future research directions.
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Coaching Educational Leadership is about building leadership capacity in individuals, and in institutions, through enhancing professional relationships. It is based on the importance of maximizing potential and harnessing the ongoing commitment and energy needed to meet personal and professional goals. Based on over a decade of research and development, nationally and internationally, Coaching Educational Leadership brings you the empirical evidence, the principles, and the skills to be able to develop your own leadership and that of others you work with.
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In view of the ever-increasing responsibilities of school leaders for ensuring the quality of schools, school leadership development has recently become one of the central concerns of educational policy. Based on data from an international study of school leadership development, international trends in school leadership preparation are identified and briefly discussed, for example, central quality assurance and decentralized provision; new forms of cooperation and partnership as well as preparatory qualification; extensive and comprehensive programs; multiphase designs and modularization; the communicative and cooperative shift; from administration and maintenance to leadership as well as change and continuous improvement; qualifying teams and developing the leadership capacity of schools; needs-, experience-, and application orientation; new ways of learning; adjusting the program to explicit aims and objectives; new paradigms of leadership; and orientation toward the school's core purpose. In addition, the article also highlights emerging issues and recent developments.
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The starting point for this article is the lack of a robust research base regarding details of what works and why for school leaders’ professional development. The article extends work undertaken for a recent commissioned literature review of selected international reports on supporting school leaders’ development strategies. The authors reveal that the leadership learning landscape seems to be one where system provision over-shadows individuals taking personal responsibility for their leadership learning. In an endeavour to create a balance between system and individual agendas, the authors have created an augmented version of a leadership learning heuristic tool originally developed by Clarke and Wildy. The tool is designed as a starting point only, intended to help leaders identify the state of their current knowledge about leadership as well as their future professional development needs using the tool’s five focal points – pedagogy, people, place, system and self. An example of the tool completed by a practising principal is used to show his current leadership knowledge profile and the knowledge fields on which he will need to focus his learning in the future. The authors conclude with suggestions for further research on personal agency in school leadership learning.
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How to best address the professional learning needs of those aspiring to leadership roles in schools is a crucial issue. Robust evaluation practices are needed to determine the quality of current provisions and to identify where improvements can be made. This paper considers the quality of professional learning programmes using a set of 10 criteria distilled from a synthesis of compelling international leadership learning research. We show the potential of the 10 criteria for judging the quality of professional learning programmes by applying them to examples of programmes drawn from five countries around the world. These examples provide a launching pad from which questions can be posed about the potential use and applicability of such criteria in making design decisions about the quality and value of professional learning programmes in a range of national and international contexts.
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Since the end of the 1980s, the Norwegian education system has gone through major reform, influenced largely by new managerialist ideas. Strategies to renew the public sector were promoted as the new public management (NPM). This paper investigates the way ideas connected to NPM reforms have been introduced and interpreted in the Norwegian education sector. Based on our studies of selected policy documents from the last two decades, we have identified three areas of discursive struggle. The first one is linked to ideologies and the national history of schooling, the second to contested issues of teacher professionalism and the third is associated with strategies for modernising and improving education. A main argument is that NPM reforms changed direction and sped up when Norway was listed among the ‘lower-performing’ countries according to Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) and other international tests. Leadership and accountability became the dominant themes in Norwegian education.
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This paper explores how action research theories and practices are remodelled in local contexts and used to support educational reform. From an analysis of 46 publications from the period 2000–2008, five ‘variations’ in the globalized theory and practice of action research are identified: action research in times of political upheaval and transition; action research as a state‐sponsored means of reforming schooling; co‐option of action research by Western governments and school systems to control teachers; action research as a university‐led reform movement; and action research as locally‐sponsored systemic reform sustained over time. A common feature in these ‘variations’ of action research is the importance each demonstrates of working towards a resolution of the impetus for action with the reflective process of inquiry and knowledge generation, to generate new practices. The paper also offers a framework to enable the analysis of how action research differs in local settings within and across national boundaries. The paper ends by suggesting that the emerging variations of action research in many countries during the period 2000–2008 can be construed as an example of Appadurai’s ‘globalization from below’, in which teacher‐action‐researchers contribute knowledge and learning from multiple local sites about the process of effective educational reform.
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Standards and accountability have become a central issue of educational reform in many countries. Professional standards for teachers and principals have been developed, and benchmarking and comparison are at the heart of the new performance assessment. ‘Designer leadership’ has become a defining theme for leadership in the appearance of regimes of assessment (Gronn 2003). Although performance standards can provide comprehensive descriptions of the elements of principals’ work, and the development processes used in validating the standards are often hugely consultative, there are several important weaknesses connected to it. A main criticism is related to its decontextualized feature (Louden and Wildy 1999). In addition, standardized evaluation policies and protocols tend to create as many problems as they solve, and the discourses of accountability are often a mixture of several forms of accountability (Elmore 2004; Sinclair 1995; Sirotnik 2005). The paper aims to explore frameworks of accountability which may support student learning and highlights claims about what would allow school leaders to take risks and be imaginative in their approach to school improvement.
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Incl. biographical notes on the authors, bibliographical references, index We also have:The meaning of educational change,1st ed. (1982) and 2nd ed.(1991)
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Building on the concepts of professional competence that he introduced in his classic The Reflective Practitioner, Schon offers an approach for educating professional in all areas that will prepare them to handle the complex and unpredictable problems of actual practice with confidence, skill, and care.
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