22 SES 03 B., Paper Session
This project sets to explore the roles of EFL (English as a Foreign Language) academic middle leaders in ELDs (English Language Departments) within three Algerian Higher Education (HE) institutions. Universities in the 21st century are going through changes, known as new public management-driven changes, characterised by marketisation, privatisation, performance measurements and accountability (Tolorafi, 2005; Deem, et al., 2007; Meek et al., 2010; Black, 2015). Responding to these shifts, at the level of universities, academic leaders ought to continually respond to environmental changes which may lead to ambiguity and resistance (De Boer and Goedegebuure, 2009). In driving change, the role of leadership regarding the organisational culture is important for change to be executed (Devecchi, Mansour, Potter and Allen, 2018; Branson, et al., 2018). In the light of multiple change drivers to the Algerian Higher Education. Namely, progressing change in tertiary education reform known as LMD system (Licence-Masters-Doctorate/ Bachelor-Masters-Doctorate) of the Bologna Process introduced in 2004 (Ghiat, 2016) and introducing Quality Assurance framework (Miliani, 2013). Accordingly, academic middle leaders’ roles are critical and complex in setting the stage for, and ultimately implementing change (Kohtamaki, 2019). While there are studies about middle leadership in the United Kingdom, the United States, Saudi Arabia, New Zealand and Australia (Bryman, 2008; Inman, 2011; Preston and Price, 2012; Branson, et al., 2015; Floyd and Preston, 2018; Shah, 2020), there remains a gap in the knowledge on the role of middle leaders in ELDs in Algeria. The complexity of the role which encompasses both leadership and management responsibilities place individuals in front of the challenge of taking in charge, an academic leadership role that requires readiness and equivalent skills. The project will be informed by the above-mentioned literature that is brought together to form the conceptual framework of the research. Accordingly, this study considers the situation in the Algerian HE and aims to conduct a qualitative case study to develop an understanding of the professional practices and roles of EFL academic middle leaders within ELDs in the light of the changes surrounding HE sector and provide evidence-based recommendations to support them in their roles. Considering the study aim, the following objectives were identified: (i) - to understand academic middle leaders’ roles and responsibilities in the light of the change, (ii) – to identify the difficulties affecting their roles, (iii) - to identify the kind of skills, knowledge, and attributes that academic middle leaders need to have in their roles, and (iv) - to explore the factors that contribute to the professional development of academic middle leaders. Taking this into account, the study addresses and aims to answer the following research questions: 1) How do EFL academic middle leaders view their leadership and management roles in their institutions in the light of the change? 2) What are the difficulties faced by EFL academic middle leaders in their roles? 3) What kind of skills, knowledge and attributes EFL academic middle leaders consider important for their role? 4) What factors contribute to EFL academic middle leaders’ continuing professional development?
This case study is located within the interpretive paradigm. Creswell’s (2015) mixed methods exploratory sequential design (qualitative-quantitative) has been applied for the study as each stage helped build and support the next stage. Furthermore, it is argued that data collection methods selected for research should relate to the nature of the research questions, the research design as well as the sample population of the research (Cohen et al, 2018). The research methods used in this study were, documentary evidence to understand the context in which EFL academic leaders operate, then online surveys, followed by semi-structured interviews for in-depth analysis and again, during the data analysis documentary analysis have been revisited and supported by field notes recorded in the course of data collection to corroborate and ensure the validity and reliability of the findings. The ethical considerations for this qualitative research have been maintained and participants confidentiality and anonymity have been fully assured and protected. As for the analysis of the data, findings generated by the surveys was analysed using descriptive analysis by reporting, describing and presenting data as it is through numeration and organisation (Cohen, Manion and Morrison, 2018). As for the semi-structured interviews, thematic analysis approach was followed because the main objective was to identify the patterns and themes to closely examine the views and experiences of the participants (Braun and Clarke, 2006) this involved coding the data and then collating it into common themes (Miles, et al., 2014; Saldana 2016). Even though some quantitative elements have been used in the analysis, my study belongs to the qualitative approach.
At the time of writing the present abstract, this doctoral research project is ongoing and has not reached the final data analysis, discussion, conclusion, and recommendations. Therefore, it makes it challenging to predict precisely the final findings. Nevertheless, the analysis of the data, thus far, revealed preliminary themes related to ‘the nature of academic middle leadership’, ‘tensions and challenges in the role’, and ‘learning to lead from the middle'. The focus on English language education (traditionally French-dominated) in Algeria would address a major gap in research into EFL academic middle leadership in the world Englishes (WE) research identified by Bens (2005) to expand the circle of research and scholarship in this area, she also points out that although there are significant spread, functions and status of English language at the international level, there is a lack of research in MENA area. The study highlights ELDs, in particular, where the English language is used by students and teachers as a means of instruction inside the classrooms and in academic events such as workshops, seminars, conferences and symposiums. This study is particularly timely and original and it can be located in three major points; (i) research on middle-level leaders has been largely ignored from an empirical standpoint in the context of EFL education, specifically the focus on skills, knowledge and attributes significance for academic middle leaders (ii) most research is functional in organisation and business but not in the higher education sector. For this reason, there is a need for studies about universities’ leadership, experiences, functioning and effectiveness, (iii) middle leadership research is widely recognised in schools and not in institutions of HE since the majority of published works are is in English language and contexts that are different from the Algerian one which provides an opportunity to add a new understanding in the existing knowledge concerning academic middle leadership roles.
Black, S,. A. (2015). Qualities of Effective Leadership in Higher Education. Open Journal of Leadership, Vol. 4, pp. 54-66 Branson, C., M., Marra, M., Franken, M., & Penny, D. (2018). Leadership in Higher Education from Transrelational Perspective. Bloomsbury Academic. Braun, V. and Clarke, V. (2006) Using thematic analysis in psychology. Qualitative Research in Psychology, 3 (2). pp. 77-101. Cohen, L., Manion, L. and Morrison, K. (2018). Research Methods in Education. 8th ed. London and New York: Routledge. Creswell, J., W. (2015). A Concise Introduction to Mixed Methods Research. Los Angeles: SAGE Publications. Deem, R., Hillyard, S., & Reed, M. (2007). Knowledge, Higher Education and the New Managerialism: the Challenging Management of UK Universities. Oxford: Oxford University Press. De Boer, H., & Goedegebuure, L. (2009). The changing nature of the academic deanship. Leadership, Vol. 5(3), pp. 347–64. Devecchi, C., Mansour, H., Potter, J. & Allen, N. (2018). Leading change together : managing cultural change across the higher education workforce. Leadership Foundation for Higher Education. Engeström, Y., Miettinen, R., and R Punamäki. (1999). Perspectives on activity theory. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Ghiat, B. (2016). ‘Bologna Process and Higher Education reforms in Algeria’, in Gray, K., Bashir, H., & Keck, S. (ed.) Western Higher Education in Asia and Middle East: Politics, Economics and Pedagogy. Lexington Books, pp. 175-198. Kohtamaki, M., Parida, V., Oghazi, P., Gebauer, H., & Baines, T., (2019). Digital servitization business models in ecosystems: a theory of the firm. Journal of Business Research. 104, 380–392. Meek, V.L.; Goedegebuure, L.; Santiago, R.; & Carvalho, T. (2010). The Changing Dynamics of Higher Education Middle Management; Springer: New York: USA Miliani, M. (2013). Building Congruence Between Internal Quality Assurance and External Quality Assessment: The Algerian Experience. Journal of Higher Education and Science, Vol. 3(3), pp. 200-204
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