26 SES 04 B, Finding Them and Getting Them Ready – Assessing and Preparing Prospective Principals
Identifying and selecting prospective leaders is a critical task, school administrations are increasingly engaged with. Internationally, several states already learnt from other domains and implemented competence based approaches to identify suitable leaders (Pont, Nusche & Hopkins, 2008). In some states, there is a growing expertise in the application of the – in economic context well established – assessment center technique for identifying school leadership potential (Jeswald 1977; Huber & Pashiardis 2008; Lee 2003). As in Germany, the school system is under federal control, the federal states are developing different strategies to identify and select principals. In the federal state North Rhine-Westphalia, the assessment center technique was first adopted and integrated in the formal selection process in 2009. For applicants to school leader positions, it´s obligatory to complete the “Eignungsfeststellungsverfahren” (EFV) successful ahead.
Due to an evaluation of the EFV by the Institute of Further Education and Educational Management of Freie Universität Berlin, data of the implementation of the EFV are available for n=1279. This paper concentrates on a secondary evaluation of the generated EFV-dataset, highlighting the question if the assessement center comes up to the expectation of equal opportunities for all participants.
The research question is theoretically framed by the neo-institutional theory that emphasizes the relevance of institutions and myths for the development of formal organizational structures (Meyer & Rowan, 1977). The AC-Technique is discussed to be an institutionalized practice, which organizations implement to prove that they are “acting on collectively valued purposes in a proper and adequate manner” (Meyer & Rowan, 1977, 349). One aim of adhering to the myth of the institutional environment is to gain legitimacy and to legitimate actions towards the stakeholder (ibid).
There are several rationalities associated with the AC-technique, for instance the orchestration of a fair, independent and transparent process of personnel selection (Neuberger, 2002). It has to be discussed, if the assessment center complies with these expectations: International assessment center research shows that, beyond the rational myth ranking around the technique, there are limitations towards equal opportunities. Clapham & Fulford (1997) for instance discovered an age bias to the disadvantage of older participants in their study that is not affected by cognitive ability, education, years of service, and gender. Other studies are discussing the relationship between gender and success in an assessment center or in certain ac-dimensions, such as communication (Dean, Roth & Bobko, 2006; Anderson, Lievens, van Dam & Born, 2006). Results concerning the preparation through training are inconsistent and not very strong (Amaral & Schuler, 2007).
A second associated question is, if identified effects of independent variables are stable across the period observed. As Suchman states, legitimacy can be gained, repaired and managed (Suchman, 1995; Deephouse & Suchmann, 2008). Following this argumentation, it is plausible, that changes due to critical evaluation feedback e.g., might lead to changes in the EFV that affect the influence of variables. Therefore, a further investigation is extended to a time elapsing perspective.
The dataset origins from the EFV-evaluation in 2009 – 2013 and contains information about the assessment center performance and the socio-demographic background of the participants (n=1279). There is also information about the organizational background (school type and size) and the participant’s attitudes towards this new instrument of personnel selection (e.g.: I am very critical towards the EFV). The data about the performance of the participants is very detailed and can be investigated on the level of dimensions, simulations or as a summarized OAR (overall assessment rating, OAR). The result critical to the participants is the question if they succeed or failed (which depends on the amount of the OAR). To investigate if there are limitations towards the ideal of equal opportunities multivariate analysis will be conducted. A multiple linear regression (Field 2013) with the amount of achieved points in the whole EFV (OAR) as dependent variable will show, if any of the discussed variables is a significant predictor for the success in the AC. This can also be done for certain dimensions, e.g. communication, to investigate the relevance of gender aspects in this specific dimension. Logistic regression (Best & Wolf, 2010) is used to identify if any of the variables is a significant predictor for the probability of being in the group of those succeeding the EFV or not. Time is operationalized by the date of the EFV and will be implemented in the regression model as another predictor. Also, it is possible, that the time is moderating the relationship between independent variables and the dependent variable (Urban & Mayerl, 2011).
The secondary evaluation analysis allows a deeper understanding of processes beyond the implementation of assessment center in the context of school leadership. Neo-institutional theory high lightens mechanism like isomorphism with structures of the institutional environment and explains, why innovations like an assessment center are interesting for challenges like the identification of suitable school leaders. At same time, it widens the perspective and allows to question innovations (Schäfers, 2002). In the context of the EFV, it is important, that the new technique hits the requirements of civil service personnel selection – one of them is the highlighted principle of equal opportunities. If there are variables found to be predictors of the success in the EFV, it is important to investigate if they are stable across time, varying or disappearing with time elapsing. Above that, the analysis of the quiet large dataset contributes to the research of assessment center. Especially the effect of assessment center training is not satisfactorily examined (Obermann, 2013).
Amaral, Grete P.; Schuler, H. (2007): Reliabilität und Trainingseffekt. In: Heinz Schuler (Hg.): Assessment Center zur Potenzialanalyse. Göttingen: Hogrefe, S. 235–255. Anderson, N.; Lievens, F.; van Dam, K.; Born, M. (2006): A Construct-Driven Investigation of Gender Differences in a Leadership-Role Assessment Center. In: Journal of Applied Psychology 91 (3), S. 555–566. Best, Henning; Wolf, Christof (2010): Logistische Regression. In: Christof Wolf und Henning Best (Hg.): Handbuch der sozialwissenschaftlichen Datenanalyse. 1. Aufl. Wiesbaden: VS Verl. für Sozialwissenschaften, S. 827–854. Clapham, Maria Maciejczyk; Fulford Mark D. (1997): Age bias in assessment center ratings. In: Journal of Managerial Issues 9 (3), S. 373–387. Dean, Michelle A.; Roth, Philip L.; Bobko, Philip (2008): Ethnic and gender subgroup differences in assessment center ratings: a meta-analysis. In: The Journal of applied psychology 93 (3), S. 685–691. Deephouse, David L.; Suchman, Marc C. (2008): Legitimacy in Organizational Institutionalism. In: Royston Greenwood (Hg.): The SAGE handbook of organizational institutionalism. Los Angeles, London: SAGE, S. 49-77. Field, Andy (2013): Discovering statistics using IBM SPSS statistics. And sex and drugs and rock'n'roll ; [companion website]. 4. ed. Los Angeles, Calif.: SAGE. Huber, Stephan Gerhard; Pashiardis, Petros (2008): The Recruitment and Selection of School Leaders. In: Gary Crow, Jacky Lumby und Petros Pashiardis (Hg.): International handbook on the preparation and development of school leaders. New York: Routledge, S. 176–201. Jeswald, Thomas A. (1977): A New Approach to Identifying Administrative Talent. In: NASSP Bulletin 61, S. 79–83. Lee, David John (2003): Preparation for headship - the national professional qualification for headship: UMI Dissertations Publishing. Meyer, John W.; Rowan, Brian (1977): Institutionalized Organizations: Formal Structure as Myth and Ceremony. In: American Journal of Sociology 83 (2), S. 340–363. Neuberger, Oswald (2002): Führen und führen lassen. 6. völlig neu bearb. und erw. Aufl. Stuttgart: Lucius & Lucius. Obermann, Christof (2013): Assessment Center: Entwicklung, Durchführung, Trends. 5. Aufl. Wiesbaden: Gabler. Pont, B.; Nusche, D.; Hopkins, D. (2008): Improving school leadership. policy and practice. Hg. v. OECD. Paris. Schaefers, C. (2002): Der soziologische Neo-Institutionalismus. Eine organisationstheoretische Analyse- und Forschungsperspektive auf schulische Organisationen. In: Zeitschrift für Pädagogik 48 (6), S. 835–855. Suchman, Marc C. (1995): Managing Legitimacy: Strategic and institutional Approaches. In: The Academy of Management Review 20 (3), S. 571–610. Urban, Dieter; Mayerl, Jochen (2011): Regressionsanalyse. Theorie, Technik und Anwendung. 4., überarbeitete und erweiterte Auflage. Wiesbaden: VS Verl. für Sozialwiss (Studienskripten zur Soziologie).
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