10 SES 08 A, Professional Learning and Leadership
Within education, reform and change are ubiquitous due to the constantly changing global landscape of education systems. Reforming an education system is often complex and the impetus for change is usually in response to a political or economic crisis, criticism of the system’s performance, or where a new leader has a strategic vision for improvement (Mourshed, Chijioke & Barber, 2010). Regardless of the impetus behind the reform, to be successful, any change, requires the management of three different dimensions within an organization. These dimensions include the (a) cultural context of the organisation (purpose, values, beliefs, economic, and social climate); (b) the driver for change, (the purpose or agendas for change); and (c) the personnel, (the leaders, the workers and the clients). In a higher education setting these dimensions could be identified as (a) the higher education context; (b) the reform agenda, and (c) the directors, academics and students.
Research around reform agendas has noted that when changes are made to any one or more of these dimensions (i.e, context, purpose/program, or personnel), there are intentional and unintentional effects on the other areas (Gump, 1980). However, in previous studies, when undertaking large program changes, the focus for evaluation has been on the effectiveness of the new program in terms of the compliance with regulatory requirements and student satisfaction. However, differences in contexts and the human and social capital of the directors and teachers identified within the third dimension have often been ignored during times of such reform. In particular, the need for explicit social and emotional skills such as the complex interrelationship between the emotional intelligence of leaders to guide the change and the self-efficacy of teachers to effect the change are areas of research which, if understood, can inform and support effective reform in other contexts.
This research took advantage of the unique opportunity to undertake a comparative analysis of the two unique contexts and their distinctive approaches to significant educational reform of initial teacher education programs at Griffith University, Australia and Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Belgium. The study used The Educational Change Model (ECM) as the theoretical framework (Pendergast et al., 2005) to examine each of the three organisational dimensions (i.e, context, purpose/program, or personnel) with a particular focus on school leadership approaches to the reform and the self-efficacy of academic staff to implement the change. As a framework, The ECM has identified that programs of reform characteristically occur in three phases (i.e., Initiation, Development, and Consolidation phases) that can typically span six to seven years. During the Initiation phase in any reform there is a set of critical elements that need to be attended to and set in place for the reform to be effective and sustained. In an education program reform, two key elements are the role of leadership and the role of teachers who become both the subjects and agents of change (Main, 2016). This paper provides a comparative analysis of the Initiation phase of these two programs.
A mixed methodology approach was used to acknowledge the complementary nature of methodologies for rich data generation and analysis that provide a richer breadth and depth of data in response to the research question being posed (Tracey, 2010). As such, data were collected using a multiple perspectives approach through the varied perspectives of the reform initiative as experienced by different stakeholders (i.e., Program Director, Program Advisor, and Academics). The goal of this approach was to “gather opinions from people who are demographically, educationally, or professionally similar” (Kemper, Stringfield, & Teddlie, 2003, p. 302). Data were collected through online self-efficacy surveys for all academics as well as semi-structured interviews. The teacher surveys utilised a validated instrument adapted from Teachers’ motivations for teaching in Higher Education (Visser-Wijnveen, G. J., Stes, A., & Van Petegem (2012) which was designed to measure the self-efficacy of academics teaching in higher education settings. Questions for the semi-structured interviews probed the academics’ perceived ideas about new ways of teaching/structure/assessment in the Education Program.
Key findings from the first phase of this study found that during any organizational change, change must occur within the people first. In the instance of significant reforms in initial teacher education programs, it involved the leaders, the academics, and the students. Attention to the knowledges and skills that each group of individuals needs to successfully negotiate the new program must be considered. The new program is driven by the collective efforts of the people involved in the program. With regard to data analysed in the first phase of the VUB program, the role of the leader was crucial in the design and implementation of the program. Staff as the people positioned as both owners, planners and teachers within the program take on a secondary role with students as the receivers of the program. Data from the first phase of the project at Griffith University are currently being analysed and a comparative analysis of the results will be prepared for this presentation.
Main, K. (2013). Australian middle years’ reform: A focus on teachers and leaders as the subjects and agents of change. In I. R. Haslam, M. S. Khine, & I. M. Saleh (Eds.), Large scale reform and social capital building: The professional development imperative (pp. 180-197). London, UK: Routledge. Mourshed, M., Chijioke, C., & Barber, M. (2010). How the world’s most improved school systems keep getting better. Retrieved from http://mckinseyonsociety.com/how-the-worlds-most-improved-school-systems-keep-getting-better/ Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). Education policy outlook: Making reforms happen. 2015, http://dx.doi.org/10.1787 /9789264225442-en (Access Date: 2 January, 2017). Pendergast, D., Flanagan, R., Land, R., Bahr, M., Mitchell, J., Weir, K., … & Smith, J. (2005). Developing lifelong learners in the middle years of schooling. Brisbane, QLD: The University of Queensland. Tracey, S. J. (2010). Eight ‘Big Tent’ Criteria for Excellent Qualitative Research. Qualitative Inquiry, December (16), 837-851. Visser-Wijnveen, G. J., Stes, A., & Van Petegem, P. (2012). Development and validation of a questionnaire measuring teachers’ motivations for teaching in higher education. Higher Education, 64(3), 421-436.
00. Central Events (Keynotes, EERA-Panel, EERJ Round Table, Invited Sessions)
Network 1. Continuing Professional Development: Learning for Individuals, Leaders, and Organisations
Network 2. Vocational Education and Training (VETNET)
Network 3. Curriculum Innovation
Network 4. Inclusive Education
Network 5. Children and Youth at Risk and Urban Education
Network 6. Open Learning: Media, Environments and Cultures
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Network 10. Teacher Education Research
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Network 14. Communities, Families and Schooling in Educational Research
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Network 23. Policy Studies and Politics of Education
Network 24. Mathematics Education Research
Network 25. Research on Children's Rights in Education
Network 26. Educational Leadership
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