A Study of Teams as Agencies of Distributing Curriculum Leadership Practices in Hong Kong Primary Schools

>> back
Principal Investigator
Professor Edmond Law
Research Fellow of APCLC, The Education University of Hong Kong
Professor Lee Chi Kin John
Dr. Zhang Zhonghua
Professor James P. Spillane
Dr. Huang Xianhan
Funding Source
General Research Fund
Project Duration


This two-year study adopts a mixed-method approach to investigate teacher curriculum leadership in Hong Kong primary schools. This study is framed within a growing body of international research that aims to understand different teacher leadership practices in curriculum and instruction. Influential scholars, such as Spillane, Leithwood, Gronn, and Harris, have identified distributed leadership as the most significant trend in education to emerge in the past 15 years. However, a model of effective distributed leadership practices has not been empirically established as of yet. 

This trend has also been observed in Hong Kong as more educators in the region continue to support distributed leadership practices along with the system-wide implementation of school-based management in the 1990s. This situation reflects the international perspective that sustainable school improvement requires a wide distribution of leadership practices among teachers. 

This study explicitly builds upon the findings of leading researchers in Hong Kong, who have observed that curriculum leadership practices emerge from team interactions. Several socio-cultural factors and conditions have been identified as facilitators or constraints in the distribution and emergence of leadership practices. This study will focus on the distribution of leadership practices in primary schools and in curriculum teams in Hong Kong. Samples will be recruited to investigate how these socio-cultural factors regulate and mediate the emergence of distributed leadership practices in curriculum teams. 

Three subject-based curriculum teams, namely, English, Chinese, and Mathematics, in each primary school will be surveyed in the first year of the study to identify leadership distribution patterns at the school and team levels as well as to examine how such patterns affect team performance. In the second year, six teams will be examined individually, with each team having different leadership distribution patterns and performance levels. Curriculum meetings will be observed and videotaped, and each team member will be subjected to a focused interview and will be shadowed by the researchers. The formal and informal interactions that occur within the teams will be analyzed to determine the distribution and emergence of different leadership patterns. Both quantitative and qualitative data will be used to construct a theoretical model for the distribution of leadership practices in schools and in curriculum teams.


Refereed Journal

Wan, S. W. Y., Law, E. H. F., & Chan, K. K. (2017). Teachers’ perception of distributed leadership in Hong Kong primary schools. School Leadership & Management, DOI: 10.1080/13632434.2017.1371689