26 SES 08 B, Educational Leadership, Data and Organizational Memory
The interest of evidence-based practice has increased the last decades, also when it relates to carry out leadership development. The situation may not be surprising, since every year organizations use a considerable amount of money to educate their leaders (Day, 2011). A range of theoretical models has been developed in recent decades to explain the causal relationships between leadership and learning, and between leadership development and leadership (Firestone & Riehl, 2005; Leithwood & Jantzi, 2008; Mulford & Silins, 2003).
In the school leadership development literature there is a large body of studies attempting to explain and compare leadership development for descriptive and analytic purposes. Within the group of descriptive and analytic studies, we find studies about “the nature of leadership development”(Bush & Glover, 2004). The body of descriptive and analytic studies focuses on a range of different aspects of leadership development, such as the kind of leadership development in which school leaders participate; mentoring, supervision, and internships; recruitment; evaluation; socialization; different phases or stages of leadership development as well the curriculum and pedagogy (Crow, 2006; Lumby et al., 2008; Young et al., 2009). Students and faculty members´ self-reports about school leadership development have dominated the research, which frequently has been grounded in surveys and interviews. Surveys and interviews may contribute with knowledge about the students´ perceptions about what factors in school leadership development might help them to become better leaders in schools, but may not contribute with knowledge about how certain events become conducive for changes in leadership practices in school (“the how”). Such approach requires longitudinal process data collected over time, and attention to the processes in which the results are achieved (Jensen, 2016)
Maxwell (2004) uses the term “the regularity approach” to conceptualize research which systematically examines relationship between variables. The regularity approach holds causation cannot be directly observed. The approach deals with variables and correlations among them, and is often collected from self-reports in quantitative data. “The realist” approach contrasts what Maxwell (2004) conceptualizes as “the regularity approach”. The realist approach pays attention to events and the processes that connects them. By contrast the “realist approach” holds causation can be observed. The aim of paying attention to events and the processes that connects them is to provide analyses of how some events influence another. The assumption is that it is in the processes in which the result is achieved. The realist approach focuses on causal mechanisms and causal explanations rather than causal descriptions. In addition, the realist approach focuses on the contexts.
The purpose of the article is to contribute with insight into causal links between school development and school leadership practices with a qualitative approach. To pursue the purpose the paper aims to present a framework for exploring causation in process data from three layers with reference to Engeström (2011). He introduces the interpretative layer of causality, the contradictory layer and the agentive layer. The three layers are grounded in Social Cultural Activity Theory (Engeström, 1987). It is also an aim to illustrate how interactions in a school improvement team could be interpreted from the three layers based on process data from interactions in the team under study.
The larger study, which the data in the illustration is built on, was designed as a longitudinal so-called panel study (Bryman, 2012; Cohen, Manion and Morrison, 2008) because it sought to examine how leadership evolved in a particular team consisting of the same people over two years. The study partly consisted of ethnographic documentation in the form of 25h audio and video recordings from the team´s ten workshops. Video and audio data constitute ethnographic data, documentation of what happens in situ (Heat and Hindmarsh, 2002), which provides me with an opportunity to take an analytic approach beyond observation and field notes from process data, which is especially important when being engaged in the setting under study. It is the transcriptions from the interactions, which constitute the departure point of analysis in the present article from 10 workshops. The data corpus was previously organized into 34 episodes (Barab, Hay & Yamagata-Lynch, 2001), which also constitute the unit of analysis in this article. An episode showed what the team´s work was directed towards in situ. A new episode was delimited by a start or a thematic shift pertaining to the situational object (what was worked on here and now). Often, an episode started with a question from the researcher combined with the introduction of some kind of tools and questions. Criteria has been developed for the selection of what Barab et al., (2001) conceptualize as action relevant episode. In this article the aim is to exemplify causation rather than demonstrating what characterize causation in the whole data material. Thus, the strategy has been to identify one episode being conducive to change rather than many. The analytic process of researching the interactions in the team, could be conceptualize as what Engeström (2011) calls — a reconstruction of sequences of events, or in this case, — a reconstruction of episodes.
Based on the analyses, I will argue, qualitative data has a potential of generating important links between school leadership development and changes in educational leadership in schools, because qualitative studies may include close observations and recordings of unfolding chains of events that show how some events are becoming conducive to changes in school leadership practices. The analysis has showed that when interpreting the interactions from an interpretative layer it become visible a pattern of interaction emerged in the team. It also becomes visible that the actors are grounding their approaches in different logics. When analyzing interactions from a contradictory level it becomes visible that there are tensions between the teachers and the leaders in one of the schools. Moreover, when interpreting the situation from an agentive layer it becomes visible that the researcher is structuring the conversation with the help of several, while one of the principals are trying to control the conversations in the math team from “outside” by intervening with the same tool as the researcher had used (the action learning methodology). The analysis shows how important it might be to include the interactions between actors and tools in the unit of analysis. I will argue that causation analyses should not be left to quantitative researchers alone. Also, qualitative research can contribute to explain causal relationships, although not with the same purposes as quantitative researchers. However, qualitative approaches may require that data be collected across contexts and over time, and the use of analytic frameworks that allows such analyses A limitation of the study is that I only have the principal´s accountancy. Consequently, his experiences are not backed up with observations in the principals` school, which would have strengthened the knowledge claims made about the role of qualitative research as a foundation for the development of educational leadership.
Barab, S., Hay, S., & Yamagata-Lynch, L. (2001). Constructing networks of action-relevant episodes: An in-situ research methodology. Journal of the Learning Sciences, 10(1), 63–112. Bryman, Alan. (2012). Social research methods. By: Oxford university press. Bush, T., & Jackson, D. (2002). A preparation for school leadership international perspectives. Educational Management Administration & Leadership, 30(4), 417–429. Cohen, L., Manion, L., & Morrison, K. (2008). Research methods in education. Routledge. Day, D.V. (2011). Leadership development. The Sage handbook of leadership, 37-50. Engeström, Y. (1987). Learning by expanding: An activity-theoretical approach to developmental research. Helsinki, Finland: Orienta-Konsultit. Engeström, Y. (2011). From design experiments to formative interventions. Theory & Psychology, 21(5), 598-628. Firestone, William A, & Riehl, Carolyn. (2005). A new agenda for research in educational leadership: Teachers College Press. Heath, C., & Hindmarsh, J. (2002). Analysing interaction: Video, ethnography and situated conduct. In T. May (Ed.), Qualitative research in action (pp. 99–121). London: Sage Publications. Jensen, R. (2016). School leadership development: what we know and how we know it. Acta Didactica Norge, 10(4), 48-68. Leithwood, K., & Jantzi, D. (2005). A Review of Transformational School Leadership Research 1996–2005. Leadership and Policy in Schools, 4(3), 177 - 199. Lumby, J., Crow, Gary M., & Pashiardis, P. (2008). International handbook on the preparation and development of school leaders: Routledge. Maxwell, J.A. (2004). Causal explanation, qualitative research, and scientific inquiry in education. Educational researcher, 33(2), 3-11. Mulford, B., & Silins, H. (2003). Leadership for Organisational Learning and Improved Student Outcomes—What Do We Know? Cambridge Journal of Education, 33(2), 175-195. Røvik, K.A. og Pettersen, H.M. (2014). Masterideer. I I K.A. Røvik, T.V. Eilertsen, E.M. Furu (Red.) Reformideer i norsk skole. Spredning, oversettelse og implementering (s.54-86. Oslo: Cappelen Damm Akademisk. Simkins, T., Coldwell, M., Close, P., & Morgan, A. (2009). Outcomes of In-school Leadership Development Work A Study of Three NCSL Programmes. Educational Management Administration & Leadership, 37(1), 29-50. Young, M.D. & Crow, G.M. (2017). Handbook of research on the education of school leaders. New York: Routledge.
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