ERG SES E 01, PechaKucha Poster Session
Research Questions, Its Details, and Theoretical Framework
The purpose of this poster presentation is to represents international results of a literature review where we sought an answer to the question: What are the benefits and successes associated with the rural principalship? More specifically, the poster represents the personal and professional skills, qualities, practices, and competencies of successful rural principals. This attention to rural is significant for a number of reasons. First, school leadership is and informed by the particulars of the school environment and its context; yet, literature about successful school leadership is often unrelated to geography (Clark & Stevens, 2009; Starr & White, 2008). Although the context of rural school leadership demands differentiated attention, there is a paucity of research within this specialized focus. Another reason why a focus on rural leadership is significant is that, across the globe, rural students represent a large percentage of school enrollment numbers. For example, within the United States, about one-third of schools are located in rural communities, and about 24% of American student are classified as rural (National Center for Education Statistics, 2013). A third reason to focus on rural school leadership is because, worldwide, studies reveal a marked discrepancy between the educational outcomes of urban and rural students. Although not always the case (e.g., Jordan, Kostandini, & Mykerezi, 2012), urban students tend to outperform rural students (Alberta Government, 2012; Lamb, Glover, & Walstab, 2014; NSW Government, 2013; OECD, 2013). In further contemplating this point, one way to promote student achievement and wellbeing is, first, to recognize what successful rural principals do and then use that information to capitalize on those constructive leadership actions and behaviors.
A theoretical aspect to answering the aforementioned research question is the topic of social capital. Social capital refers to various types and levels of informal and formal social bonds and network between people within personal and/or professional communities (Bourdieu, 1986; Coleman, 1988; Halpern, 2005; Putnam, 2000). Such interpersonally connections are exemplified through family networks, friendship ties, business associations, and links with influential people within various formal organizations. Social capital is used, for example, when a group of connected people establish a goal and work toward achieving that common aim. The effect of strong active stocks of social capital between and among the principal, parents, and community member is directly and indirectly reflected within rural school environment in the form of community grants, volunteer support, sponsorship, awards, prizes, and various donations (Anderson & White, 2011). Many studies relay that successful rural principals use social capital to embellish school resources, community involvement in school, and student achievement (Agnitsch, Flora, & Ryan, 2009; Klar & Brewer, 2014; Lester, 2011). In other words, successful rural school leadership actuates the nascent and burgeoning stocks of social capital and its productive network that exist within the rural community.
Due to confinements of our library databases and the overall accessibility of published work, the retrievable literature reflects studies from the United States, Canada, and Australia. A limitation of this work pertains to a lack of a common definition of rural. For example, the Australian Bureau of Statistics (2011) defined an urban center as a “population cluster of 1,000 or more people” (para. 24). The United States Census Bureau (2013) stated that rural includes populations existing outside urban clusters (a population of 2,500–50,000) or urbanized areas (a population of 10,000 or more). Although most of these citations recognizes rural as communities of less than 10,000 people, the United Nations (2013) indicated that there does not exist an internationally recognized definition for rural.
Abridged References Agnitsch, K., Flora, J., & Ryan, V. (2009). Bonding and bridging social capital: The interactive effects on community action. Journal of the Community Development Society, 37(1), 36–51. doi:10.1080/15575330609490153 Alberta Government. (2012). Promising practices in rural elementary education. Edmonton, AB: Author. Retrieved from https://education.alberta.ca/media/6807246/rural%20education%20report.pdf Anderson, M., & White, S. (2011). Resourcing change in small schools. Australian Journal of Education, 55(1), 50–61. Australian Bureau of Statistics. (2011). Australian Statistical Geography Standard (ASGS). Retrieved from http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/Lookup/2901.0Chapter23102011 Bourdieu, P. (1986). The forms of capital. In J. Richardson (Ed.), Handbook of theory and research for the sociology of education (pp. 241–258). New York, NY: Greenwood Press. Clarke, S., & Stevens, E. (2009). Sustainable leadership in small rural schools: Selected Australian vignettes. Journal of Educational Change, 10(4), 277–293. doi:1007/sl0833-008- 9076-8 Coleman, J. S. (1988). Social capital in the creation of human capital. American Journal of Sociology, 94(Spec. Ed.), S95–S120. Halpern, D. (2005). Social capital. Cambridge, England: Polity Press. Halsey, R. J., & Drummond, A. (2014). Reasons and motivations of school leaders who apply for rural, regional and remote locations in Australia. Australian and International Journal of Rural Education, 24(1), 69–77. Harmon, H. L., & Schafft, K. (2009). Rural school leadership for collaborative community development. The Rural Educator, 50(3), 4–9. Jordan, J. L., Kostandini, G., & Mykerezi, E. (2012). Rural and urban high school dropout rates: Are they different? Journal of Research in Rural Education, 27(12), 1–21. Klar, H. W., & Brewer, C. A. (2014). Successful leadership in a rural, high-poverty school: The case of County Line Middle School. Journal of Educational Administration, 52(4), 422–445. Lamb, S., Glover, S., & Walstab, A. (2014, August). Educational disadvantage and regional rural schools. Paper presented at the Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER) Research Conference, Melbourne, Australia. Littell, J. H., Corcoran, J., & Pillai, V. (2008). Systematic reviews and meta-analysis. New York, NY: Oxford University Press NSW [North South Wales] Government. (2013, November). Rural and remote education: A blueprint for action. Retrieved from https://www.det.nsw.edu.au/media/downloads/about-us/our-reforms/rural-and-remote-education/randr-blueprint.pdf OECD [Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development]. (2013). PISA in focus: What makes urban school different? Retrieved from http://www.oecd.org/pisa/pisaproducts/pisainfocus/pisa%20in%20focus%20n28%20(eng)--FINAL.pdf Putnam, R. D. (2000). Bowling alone: The collapse and revival of American community. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster. Starr, K., & White, S. (2008). The small rural school principalship: Key challenges and cross-school responses. Journal of Research in Rural Education, 23(5), 1–12.
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