Special Issue "How School Leadership Influences Student Learning"

A special issue of Societies (ISSN 2075-4698).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 January 2015)

Special Issue Editors

Guest Editor
Prof. Kenneth Leithwood

Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto, 252 Bloor Street West, Toronto, Ontario M5S 1V6, Canada
Website | E-Mail
Interests: leadership, school improvement
Guest Editor
Dr. Jingping Sun

Department of Educational Leadership, Policy and Technology Studies, College of Education, University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, AL 35487, USA
Website | E-Mail
Interests: educational leadership; policy evaluation and improvement; data-based decision making and research synthesis

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The point of departure for this special journal issue is the now robust body of empirical evidence about the significant contributions of school leadership to student learning. While more research about student learning effects of leader’s work remains worthwhile, the most urgent next step for leadership researchers is to better understand how the largely indirect effects of school leadership eventually come to enhance the learning of students? Through what “paths” does this influence flow? Which proximal variables potentially open to leadership influence, are likely to have the greatest effects on students? In terms of how this issue has been conceptualized by some in the leadership field, the issue will be an exploration of the “mediated”, or mediated and moderated, effects conception of school leader impact.

Papers reporting original research, as well as systematic reviews of research and primarily theoretical papers are welcome for the issue.

Prof. Kenneth Leithwood
Dr. Jingping Sun
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a double-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Societies is an international peer-reviewed open access quarterly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • leadership
  • student learning
  • impact
  • indirect influence
  • critical path
  • school improvement

Published Papers (9 papers)

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Research

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Open AccessArticle
Generation X School Leaders as Agents of Care: Leader and Teacher Perspectives from Toronto, New York City and London
Societies 2016, 6(2), 8; https://doi.org/10.3390/soc6020008
Received: 3 March 2016 / Revised: 11 March 2016 / Accepted: 28 March 2016 / Published: 31 March 2016
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (250 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
This paper draws on evidence from our three-year Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC)-funded research study of the lives, careers, experiences and aspirations of Generation X (under 40 years of age) principals and vice-principals in London, New York City, and Toronto. More specifically, [...] Read more.
This paper draws on evidence from our three-year Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC)-funded research study of the lives, careers, experiences and aspirations of Generation X (under 40 years of age) principals and vice-principals in London, New York City, and Toronto. More specifically, the paper examines interview evidence from nine school-based studies in which nine leaders and 54 teachers discuss their perspectives on leaders’ care of their staff members. The evidence demonstrates that leaders and teachers both place a high level of importance on leaders’ ability and willingness to be supportive, understanding, and approachable. Teachers also expect leaders to serve as advocates for and role models of good work/life balance. While the school-level studies take place in radically different city-based contexts, the expectation of leaders’ care for teachers transcends different accountability and policy structures. Both groups focus their discussion on work/life balance and, more specifically, the need for leaders to understand that teachers are people with lives beyond school. The paper highlights implications for policy, practice, and future research. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue How School Leadership Influences Student Learning)
Open AccessArticle
A Path Analysis of the Effects of Principal Professional Orientation towards Leadership, Professional Teacher Behavior, and School Academic Optimism on School Reading Achievement
Societies 2016, 6(1), 5; https://doi.org/10.3390/soc6010005
Received: 19 December 2015 / Revised: 19 January 2016 / Accepted: 26 January 2016 / Published: 5 February 2016
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (207 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
This study tested the effects of the principal’s professional orientation towards leadership/enabling school structure (ESS) on two mediating variables, school academic optimism (SAO) and professional teacher behavior (PTB), on the outcome variable school reading achievement (RA). Data were drawn from a sample of [...] Read more.
This study tested the effects of the principal’s professional orientation towards leadership/enabling school structure (ESS) on two mediating variables, school academic optimism (SAO) and professional teacher behavior (PTB), on the outcome variable school reading achievement (RA). Data were drawn from a sample of 54 schools (including 45 elementary schools and nine middle schools); the school was the unit of analysis. Data analysis supported a path to RA in which a structural variable, ESS was the immediate antecedent of SAO and PTB. Two control variables, school level and SES, were included in the model. SES had a significant effect on SAO but not on PTB. School level had a negative effect on both PTB and SAO suggesting that both variables were higher in elementary school and declined in middle school. SES paired with SAO in predicting RA. As expected, SAO had a greater effect on RA than SES. The significance of the findings lies in the confirmation of SAO as an important influence on RA and in demonstrating the importance of ESS in establishing a context in which AO and PTB can flourish. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue How School Leadership Influences Student Learning)
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Open AccessArticle
Changing the Educational Culture of the Home to Increase Student Success at School
Societies 2015, 5(3), 664-685; https://doi.org/10.3390/soc5030664
Received: 2 July 2015 / Revised: 14 September 2015 / Accepted: 16 September 2015 / Published: 18 September 2015
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Abstract
Parent involvement in their children’s learning is widely acknowledged as having a positive effect on student academic success. Of particular relevance is the finding that the influence of parent engagement can mitigate differences in socioeconomic status (SES) and family background. Family background is [...] Read more.
Parent involvement in their children’s learning is widely acknowledged as having a positive effect on student academic success. Of particular relevance is the finding that the influence of parent engagement can mitigate differences in socioeconomic status (SES) and family background. Family background is a multi-dimensional concept that includes the family’s “educational culture” (including for example, parenting style, parental expectations for children’s work at school, direct instructional support for school learning, active parent interest in the school’s curriculum, and the monitoring of children’s engagement with their school work). It is these features of a child’s home environment that directly influence much of the social and intellectual capital students need to be successful at school. This paper summarizes a quasi-experimental field study which explored the relative effects of alternative types of school interventions on parent engagement. All of these interventions aimed to further engage parents in the education of their children as a means of both improving student achievement and closing gaps in achievement for students living primarily in challenging social and economic circumstances. Initiatives by school staffs aimed at helping those families struggling to build productive educational cultures in their homes would appear to be a very promising strategy for closing achievement gaps between advantaged and disadvantaged students. The study provides eight lessons other districts might take heed of as they embark on their own parent engagement interventions. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue How School Leadership Influences Student Learning)
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Open AccessArticle
Complexity and Volume: An Inquiry into Factors that Drive Principals’ Work
Societies 2015, 5(2), 537-565; https://doi.org/10.3390/soc5020537
Received: 30 March 2015 / Revised: 15 May 2015 / Accepted: 18 May 2015 / Published: 2 June 2015
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Abstract
Background: The work of contemporary school principals is intensifying in terms of its complexity and volume. Many factors moderate and drive such work intensification. This study aims to understand what and how factors interact to complicate principals’ work. Methods: Focus groups and an [...] Read more.
Background: The work of contemporary school principals is intensifying in terms of its complexity and volume. Many factors moderate and drive such work intensification. This study aims to understand what and how factors interact to complicate principals’ work. Methods: Focus groups and an online survey were used for data collection. Three focus group sessions with eight principals were conducted to help develop and refine the online survey. The survey covers 12 key areas in principals’ work and was distributed among the members of Ontario Principals’ Council. Descriptive statistics, correlation and factor analysis were conducted on survey results. Results: The study shows that there are many key areas that moderate principals’ work, such as administrative duties and responsibilities, jurisdictional policies, external influences, partnerships, and challenges and possibilities. School principals are experiencing increased expectations at work in terms of the number of tasks they are expected to undertake, the duration of time they are required to complete those tasks, and the many challenges they face at their work. Conclusions: Principals’ choice of leadership approaches and practices is subject to factors that exist within and beyond schools. Such factors moderate the way that principals carry out their work and limit their choices in exercising their professional autonomy. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue How School Leadership Influences Student Learning)
Open AccessArticle
Leadership and Learning: Conceptualizing Relations between School Administrative Practice and Instructional Practice
Societies 2015, 5(2), 277-294; https://doi.org/10.3390/soc5020277
Received: 9 February 2015 / Revised: 30 March 2015 / Accepted: 3 April 2015 / Published: 13 April 2015
Cited by 7 | PDF Full-text (549 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
In this paper I argue that one problem we face in understanding relations between school leadership and student learning is that core constructs in our work are often variably and weakly defined. Loose constructs pose problems because they contribute to fuzzy research, especially [...] Read more.
In this paper I argue that one problem we face in understanding relations between school leadership and student learning is that core constructs in our work are often variably and weakly defined. Loose constructs pose problems because they contribute to fuzzy research, especially if constructs such as school leadership, management, or even instruction are weakly (or never explicitly) defined and operationalized. Fuzzy conceptualization makes comparing across studies, essential to the development of a robust empirical knowledge base, difficult if not impossible. Arguing that a critical but often overlooked challenge in studying relations between school administration and student learning is conceptual in nature, I begin by conceptualizing school administration and instruction from what I refer to as a distributed perspective, using theoretical work in distributed and situated cognition, activity theory, and micro sociology. I show how conceptualizing phenomena under study in particular ways shapes how we might frame and hypothesize relations among these phenomena. I contrast a distributed conceptualization with more conventional, individually focused conceptualizations of both phenomena. I then consider the entailments of my conceptualization of the two core phenomena for framing relations between them. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue How School Leadership Influences Student Learning)
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Open AccessArticle
Principals, Trust, and Cultivating Vibrant Schools
Societies 2015, 5(2), 256-276; https://doi.org/10.3390/soc5020256
Received: 17 February 2015 / Revised: 16 March 2015 / Accepted: 17 March 2015 / Published: 27 March 2015
Cited by 14 | PDF Full-text (224 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Although principals are ultimately held accountable to student learning in their buildings, the most consistent research results have suggested that their impact on student achievement is largely indirect. Leithwood, Patten, and Jantzi proposed four paths through which this indirect influence would flow, and [...] Read more.
Although principals are ultimately held accountable to student learning in their buildings, the most consistent research results have suggested that their impact on student achievement is largely indirect. Leithwood, Patten, and Jantzi proposed four paths through which this indirect influence would flow, and the purpose of this special issue is to examine in greater depth these mediating variables. Among mediating variables, we assert that trust is key. In this paper, we explore the evidence that points to the role that faculty trust in the principal plays in student learning and how principals can cultivate trust by attending to the five facets of trust, as well as the correlates of trust that mediate student learning, including academic press, collective teacher efficacy, and teacher professionalism. We argue that trust plays a role in each of the four paths identified by Leithwood, Patten, and Jantzi. Finally, we explore possible new directions for future research. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue How School Leadership Influences Student Learning)
Open AccessArticle
Towards Sustaining Levels of Reflective Learning: How Do Transformational Leadership, Task Interdependence, and Self-Efficacy Shape Teacher Learning in Schools?
Societies 2015, 5(1), 187-219; https://doi.org/10.3390/soc5010187
Received: 14 February 2015 / Revised: 6 March 2015 / Accepted: 10 March 2015 / Published: 19 March 2015
Cited by 9 | PDF Full-text (623 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Whereas cross-sectional research has shown that transformational leadership, task interdependence, and self-efficacy are positively related to teachers’ engagement in reflective learning activities, the causal direction of these relations needs further inquiry. At the same time, individual teacher learning might play a mutual role [...] Read more.
Whereas cross-sectional research has shown that transformational leadership, task interdependence, and self-efficacy are positively related to teachers’ engagement in reflective learning activities, the causal direction of these relations needs further inquiry. At the same time, individual teacher learning might play a mutual role in strengthening school-level capacity for sustained improvement. Building on previous research, this longitudinal study therefore examines how transformational leadership, task interdependence, self-efficacy, and teachers’ engagement in self-reflection mutually affect each other over time. Questionnaire data gathered on three measurement occasions from 655 Dutch Vocational Education and Training teachers was analyzed using a multivariate Latent Difference Score model. Results indicate that self-reflection and task interdependence reciprocally influence each other’s change. A considerate and stimulating transformational leader was found to contribute to this process. Change in self-efficacy was influenced by self-reflection, indicating that learning leads to competency beliefs. Together, the findings point to the important role transformational leadership practices play in facilitating teamwork, and sustaining teachers’ levels of learning in schools. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue How School Leadership Influences Student Learning)
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Open AccessArticle
A Model of Successful School Leadership from the International Successful School Principalship Project
Societies 2015, 5(1), 136-150; https://doi.org/10.3390/soc5010136
Received: 1 February 2015 / Accepted: 3 March 2015 / Published: 6 March 2015
Cited by 14 | PDF Full-text (212 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The International Successful School Principalship Project (ISSPP) has been actively conducting research about the work of successful principals since 2001. Findings from four project books and eight models derived from this project are synthesised into a model of successful school leadership. Building on [...] Read more.
The International Successful School Principalship Project (ISSPP) has been actively conducting research about the work of successful principals since 2001. Findings from four project books and eight models derived from this project are synthesised into a model of successful school leadership. Building on Gurr, Drysdale and Mulford’s earlier model, the work of school leaders is described as engaging within the school context to influence student and school outcomes through interventions in teaching and learning, school capacity building, and the wider context. The qualities a leader brings to their role, a portfolio approach to using leadership ideas, constructing networks, collaborations and partnerships, and utilising accountability and evaluation for evidence-informed improvement, are important additional elements. The model is applicable to all in leadership roles in schools. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue How School Leadership Influences Student Learning)
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Review

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Open AccessReview
Leadership Effects on Student Learning Mediated by Teacher Emotions
Societies 2015, 5(3), 566-582; https://doi.org/10.3390/soc5030566
Received: 24 March 2015 / Revised: 7 May 2015 / Accepted: 15 June 2015 / Published: 29 June 2015
Cited by 6 | PDF Full-text (214 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
School leaders’ influence on student achievement is largely indirect. Using systematic review techniques, this paper assesses the impact that leaders have on their students when they focus their improvement efforts on those teacher emotions or dispositions known to have direct effects on teaching [...] Read more.
School leaders’ influence on student achievement is largely indirect. Using systematic review techniques, this paper assesses the impact that leaders have on their students when they focus their improvement efforts on those teacher emotions or dispositions known to have direct effects on teaching and learning in the classroom. Building on an earlier conceptions of how leadership influences student learning and based on a review of research over the last 25 years, this study identifies four distinct teacher emotions which have significant effects on student learning—collective teacher efficacy, teacher commitment, teacher trust in others, and Organizational Citizenship Behavior. This review also describes leadership practices likely to foster productive teacher emotions, most such practices reflecting a transformational approach to leadership. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue How School Leadership Influences Student Learning)
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