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Selected Research Project
 
Project Title Leadership for Learning – Understanding Teacher Leadership in Early Childhood Education Settings
 
Principal Investigator Dr. Li Yuen Ling
 
Area of Research Project
Educational Leadership, Policy and Administration

 

Project Period
From 1/2012 To 12/2013
Objectives

The objectives of the research are as follows:

  1. To describe patterns of teacher leadership used in early childhood programmes;
  2. To examine the impact of different patterns of teacher leadership on the instructional, professional, and organizational development of teachers; and
  3. To investigate how the particular context of early childhood education settings shapes the exercise of teacher leadership.
Methods Used

Research plan and methodology

A combined quantitative (questionnaire surveys) and qualitative (focus group interviews, field and classroom observation) methodology will be used to examine 3 research questions: 1) “What are the patterns of teacher leadership practised in early childhood programmes?”; 2) “In what ways do different patterns of teacher leadership impact the instructional, professional, and organizational development of teachers?”; and 3) “To what extent do contexts of early childhood education settings shape the exercise of teacher leadership?”

The conceptualization of leadership and teacher leadership will form the framework for the study. In a small pilot study, a questionnaire adapted from recent leadership research (Bass 1985,1988; Bryk & Schneider 2003; Leithwood 2005; Day et al. 2007) will be administered to 30 teachers in an INSET course, followed by interviews to examine whether the questions work in the Hong Kong context. Next, factor analysis will be used to assess the internal consistency and construct validity of the instrument. The validated questionnaire will be administered to kindergartens in HK to identify their leadership approaches. Cluster analysis will be used to analyse the quantitative data of information by identifying significant patterns. Most likely, 4 to 5 clusters will be generated through cluster analysis; therefore, 4 to 5 groups of schools will be chosen. 1 to 3 key staff from each group will be chosen on the basis of their role and presence in the school.

Case-study visits will be conducted in each of the sampled kindergartens (2 sampled kindergartens from each group) after cluster analysis of the quantitative data collected by the questionnaire. Open-ended interviews will be used as the primary source of data collection. 3 in-depth interviews will be conducted with principals, key staff, and teachers. Each participant will be interviewed for approximately 45 minutes. Additionally, observation of principal teacher interactions and meetings regarding teaching and learning evaluation will be conducted to support the data collection.

Impact
  • Promotion of the understanding of the nature of teacher leadership roles and how they are enacted to impact learning and teaching practices as principals and teachers become increasingly involved in all stages of the preparation and development processes, if any, in particular contexts.
  • Contribution to knowledge building of how teachers interpret and implement leadership for learning in a changing context and the extent to which leadership influences instructional, professional, and organizational development.
  • Development of a theoretical basis for action through identification of the contextual factors/conditions that promote and challenge leadership approaches of participating kindergartens in exploration of/experimentation with the approach to adopt in order to achieve the stated goal of quality enhancement. The proposed study will provide evidence of how teacher leadership works and contributes to enhance teaching and learning in early childhood programmes.
  • Policy initiatives in the early childhood sector in HK tend to assume a strong relationship between leadership and instructional development. A voucher system introduced in 2007 appears to endorse this linkage. Although this voucher scheme, which includes incentives such as a teacher development package, has the potential to effect positive interventions to raise quality through its emphasis on continuing professional development/learning, the lack of detailed knowledge regarding the nature of leadership in ECE and its relationship to classroom practices and pupil learning may limit the scheme’s success. The nature of educational systems and the often-changing role that education has in national and social development create new challenges for schools and school leaders. Leadership functions are linked to the unique circumstances of each educational system. This project will focus on investigating the needs and development of preschool teachers to exercise teacher leadership in the local educational system.
Selected Publications Related to the Study
Y.L.Li (2012). Teacher Leadership: A Review, in Y.L. Li (2012) ed. School-based Development: Theory and Practice, pp. 37–47. Hong Kong: New Century Press. [In Chinese]
Biography of Principal Investigator
Dr. Li Yuen Ling is currently an Associate Professor in the Department of Early Childhood Education. She was formerly the Programme Coordinator of the Qualified Kindergarten Teacher (QKT) In-service Course (1998–2000), QKT Pre-service Course (2000–2004), and the BEd (ECE) In-service Programme (2004–2008) at the Institute. Her research is primarily focused on on teacher development, early childhood curriculum, and school development. Dr. Li has been published in international and regional jorunals. At present, she is on the Editorial Advisory Board of the Journal of Early Childhood Teacher Education and the Forum on Public Policy, which publishes papers on educational policy.
Funding Source
General Research Fund