Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Understanding the relationship between distributed leadership and collaborative teacher inquiry
by Kennedy, Anne Maxine, Ed.D., Lewis and Clark College, 2011, 310; 3443745
Abstract (Summary)

Over the last decade, an increasing number of schools have adopted recommended strategies for implementing school wide professional learning communities (PLC). Development of strong PLCs requires new work relations, characterized by a flattened hierarchy and increased lateral leadership. In public schools, this type of shared leadership is not well understood. Research on PLCs and distributed leadership provides a compelling framework for examining these new forms of leadership and collaborative teacher practice. Therefore, the current study has value for teachers and administrators initiating such relationships.

This study uncovers a number of important findings. First, teachers and the principal in Silver Valley Middle School develop leadership knowledge and skills in different ways. As shared knowledge and skills converge, a cultural distribution of leadership emerges. This cultural distribution of leadership requires the principal and school administrators grant teachers and/or teacher leaders authority and control related to the structure and processes of PLC work. In turn, teachers willingly take on new roles and responsibilities, and assume shared accountability for student learning and achievement. Second, teachers and administrators develop expertise over time, following different but predictable pathways. As individuals assume new and different roles, the nature of dialogue changes. Finally, findings indicate distributed leadership in PLC work increases teachers’ intellectual engagement.

This study differs from traditional dissertation practices by examining previously collected data. Findings suggest pre-existing data can yield important new knowledge beyond the original scope of work when the researcher possesses: (a) deep knowledge of the intent of the original questions posed and activities undertaken in targeted projects, (b) the type and amount of data available related to study participants, (c) archival practices relating to primary sources, and (d) alignment of new research questions and methodology with available data. Analysis and findings also provide insight into the limitations of the use of previously collected data.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Howser, Mike, Allen, Kasi
Commitee: Doyle, Carol
School: Lewis and Clark College
Department: Education
School Location: United States -- Oregon
Source: DAI-A 72/04, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Educational leadership, Teacher education
Keywords: Collaborative inquiry, Communities of practice, Distributed leadership, Mathematics and science teachers, Principals / powers and duties, Professional learning community, School improvement programs
Publication Number: 3443745
ISBN: 978-1-124-49182-0
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