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Selected Development Project
Project Title

Leading School-based Research to Improve Student Learning: Lessons from Shanghai

Principal Investigator Dr QIAN Haiyan
Area of Research Project
Educational Leadership, Policy and Administration
Project Period
From 01/2015 To 06/2017
  1. To develop a preliminary empirically-based understanding of the form and configuration of school-based research as it is implemented in schools
  2. To investigate how school leaders (of different levels) in Shanghai perceive and enact their roles in leading school-based research
  3. To explore what factors shape the way school leaders organize, coordinate and implement school-based research and how leadership practices influence the way teachers and students perceive and participate in school-based research
  4. To identify the characteristics of the socio-political and educational system that may facilitate and inhibit the promotion and implementation of school-based research
  5. To synthesize a set of propositions emerging from the study about the structural, organizational and leadership strategies that Hong Kong (and other societies) can learn from the experience of Shanghai
Methods Used
The study adopts qualitative approach and the major data collection method is interview. Six schools are selected in Shanghai and interviews are conducted with school leaders, middle-level leaders and teachers.
Summary of Findings

The study has provided empirical understandings about what school-based research looks like in Shanghai schools; how it is organized and implemented; and what is the role of school leaders in coordinating and leading school-based research.


The study has documented leadership strategies associated with successful promotion and implementation of school-based research in selected Shanghai schools. Thus, the study has

  • added to our understanding about what school leadership can do and what they can do better to promote and embed school-based research;
  • provided insights into the characteristics of school leadership contextualized in the unique features of schools in Shanghai;
  • developed some empirical understandings about what Shanghai has achieved and what mistakes it has made and why;
  • suggested substantial implications for Hong Kong as Shanghai and Hong Kong share a cultural heritage and have to grapple with some common issues in education
Selected Output
  1. Qian, H. Y., Walker, A. & Li, J. C. (in press, July 2017). Exploring the successful school leadership literature in China. In J. Wilkinson & L. Bristol (Eds.), Educational leadership as a Culturally Constructed Practice: New Directions and Possibilities. London: Routledge.
  2. Qian, H. Y. Walker, A. & Yang, X. W. (2017). Building and leading a learning culture among teachers: A case study of a Shanghai primary school. Educational Management Administration & Leadership, 45 (1), 101-122.
  3. Qian, H. Y. (2016). Improving teachers' research engagement: Case studies of three School Research Coordinators. Leading & Managing, 22 (2), 18 - 33.
  4. Qian, H. Y. & Walker, A. (2015). How principals promote and understand teacher development under curriculum reform in China. In Q. Gu (Ed.), The Work and Lives of Teachers in China (pp. 165-179). London: Routledge.
Biography of Principal Investigator

Haiyan is an Assistant Professor at the Department of Education Policy and Leadership. She studied in Mainland China, UK and HK and worked in tertiary institutions in Mainland China and Hong Kong over the past decade. Before joining the Institute in 2012, she worked at the Institute of Higher Education, Fudan University at Shanghai, China.

Her research interests include education leadership and school principalship in China and influence of the social and cultural context on schooling across Chinese societies. Her studies in these fields emphasize on building indigenous understandings about how Chinese school leaders develop teachers, promote teaching and learning and improve schools.
Funding Source

Early Career Scheme