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Selected Research Project
Project Title Effective Teacher Leadership for Curriculum Change in Early Childhood Education
Principal Investigator Dr. Ho Choi-wa, Dora
Area of Research Project
Educational Leadership, Policy and Administration
Project Period
From 1/2011 To 4/2013

By investigating the phenomenon of teacher leadership in a Chinese, policy-driven kindergarten context, this research project aims to develop new conceptions and possible interpretations of the distributed models of teacher leadership promoted in the West as the key for school improvement. Research objectives:

  1. To investigate how teacher leadership is understood in relation to curriculum change in kindergartens in Hong Kong;
  2. To identify the roles and responsibilities of teacher leaders for curriculum change;
  3. To understand the process and practice of teacher leadership in coordinating and leading curriculum change;
  4. To identify the conditions that support and challenge the development of teacher leadership at the school level; and
  5. To explore the links between teacher leadership and curriculum change.
Methods Used

Adopting a grounded theory approach, the research comprises two phases: exploratory and confirmatory. The first phase of the study explored the phenomenon of teacher leadership in a sample of kindergartens that have been rated as “excellent” in quality assurance inspection by the Education Bureau. The case studies identify the characteristics and patterns of effective teacher leadership for curriculum change. The findings were used to formulate the hypothetical basis for a territory-wide, quantitative questionnaire survey for future research. The results of case studies are being used as the hypothetical basis for a territory-wide quantitative questionnaire. The ultimate goal is to capture a fuller picture of teacher leadership in early childhood education in Hong Kong, and critique the way by which Western models of teacher leadership are being put forward as solutions in a Chinese, policy-driven context.

Summary of Findings

The major findings of the case studies:

  1. The majority of interviewees expressed the view that teacher leaders acted as change agents in various aspects of school development.
  2. Teachers were given opportunities to participate in decision making, showing that the practice of traditional top-down leadership was no longer applied in the case study schools.
  3. The majority of interviewees reported that there was a collegial atmosphere in school where formal and informal discussions could be carried out whenever necessary.
  4. As a supporting condition for teacher leadership, autonomy was given to teachers so that they could pursue a high quality of work. A crucial role in building capacity and empowering teacher leadership.
The major findings of the questionnaire survey:
  1. Overall there was a significant relationship between school-level teacher qualifications and the school-based professional learning communities (PLC).
  2. There were significant group differences in all dimensions of school performance as perceived by groups of teachers from different functional positions in school, namely middle management staff, teachers within the curriculum development team, and teachers not in the curriculum development team
  3. Teachers working at medium- and large-sized preschools showed significantly lower perceptions of organizational support for teacher leadership than their counterparts in small schools.

Journal Articles (refereed)

  • Ho, D., Lee, M. S. & Teng, Y. (under review). A missing link: Decoding the interrelationship between school-level teacher qualifications and the school-based professional learning community. Journal of Teacher Education.
  • Ho, D. & Tikly, L. (2012). Conceptualizing teacher leadership in a Chinese, policy-driven context, School Effectiveness and School Improvement.23 (4), 401-416.

Conference Papers (refereed)

  • Ho, D. (2012). Exploring Teacher Leadership in Early Childhood Education in Hong Kong. Paper presentation at the 22nd Annual Conference of European Early Childhood Education Research Association, Portugal, August 29 to September 1, 2012
  • Ho, D. (2012). Makers of the Change Makers: Empowering Teacher Leaders in Early Childhood Education. Paper presentation at the 13th Annual Conference of Pacific Early Childhood Education Research Association, Singapore, July 20-22, 2012.
  • Ho, D., Lee, M. & Tikly, L. (2012). Leadership in Early Childhood Education in Hong Kong: From Apprenticeship to Change Agentry. Roundtable presentation at the Asia Leadership Roundtable 2012 co-organized by IRED of Vietnam and the Asia Pacific Centre for Leadership and Change (APCLC) of Hong Kong Institute of Education, March 11-13, 2012.

Biography of Principal Investigator
Dr. Dora Ho Choi-wa is Assistant Professor at the Department of Early Childhood Education, joined the Hong Kong Institute of Education in 2007. She holds a doctorate from the University of Bristol, United Kingdom. Her research interests include school leadership, education policy, curriculum and pedagogy, and early childhood education. She has written extensively on issues of school leadership, curriculum change, quality improvement, and teacher professionalism.
Funding Source
General Research Fund