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identify a

current

(within the last five years)

qualitative

research report

from a

peer-reviewed journal

in your area of interest. Then, dissect the report according to the FOUR sections below, using the guidelines given.

Introduction

Problem Statement

: Identify the background/rationale and research problem for the study.

Theory:

Identify the theory in which the researcher(s) grounded the study and describe the major research findings that support the theory. Next, list the research questions or aims.

Method

Participants

: Identify the population of interest and describe the sample of participants in the study.

Data Collection Tools:

Identify the data collection tools or strategies and describe

how these were used

to collect data.

Design

:  Identify and briefly describe the qualitative research design that was used. Provide a rationale why this design was the most appropriate (Hint: connect the design to the purpose of the study or research questions)

Procedures

: Briefly describe how the data were collected.

Results

Data Analysis

: Describe how the data were analyzed (Hint: connect the method of data analysis to the research design used)

Findings

: State the findings of the study

Discussion

Significance of the study

: Describe how the findings of the study are discussed in relation to the prior research presented in the literature review or has led to a new grounded theory.

Ethical Considerations

: Briefly discuss any ethical or field issues considered when collecting the data.

Finally, reflect on how this research report helps you in thinking about a potential research problem for your capstone project in this doctoral program.

International Journal of Leadership in Education
Theory and Practice
ISSN: 1360-3124 (Print) 1464-5092 (Online) Journal homepage: https://www.tandfonline.com/loi/tedl20
Professional development for teacher leaders:
using activity theory to understand the
complexities of sustainable change
Monica Taylor, Emily J. Klein, Mika Munakata, Kristen Trabona, Zareen
Rahman & Jason McManus
To cite this article: Monica Taylor, Emily J. Klein, Mika Munakata, Kristen Trabona, Zareen
Rahman & Jason McManus (2019) Professional development for teacher leaders: using activity
theory to understand the complexities of sustainable change, International Journal of Leadership in
Education, 22:6, 685-705, DOI: 10.1080/13603124.2018.1492023
To link to this article: https://doi.org/10.1080/13603124.2018.1492023
Published online: 02 Aug 2018.
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https://www.tandfonline.com/action/journalInformation?journalCode=tedl20
INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF LEADERSHIP IN EDUCATION
2019, VOL. 22, NO. 6, 685–705
https://doi.org/10.1080/13603124.2018.1492023
ARTICLE
Professional development for teacher leaders: using activity
theory to understand the complexities of sustainable change
Monica Taylora, Emily J. Kleina, Mika Munakatab, Kristen Trabona
and Jason McManusd
c
, Zareen Rahmand
a
Department of Secondary and Special Education, Montclair State University, Montclair, NJ, USA;
Department of Mathematics, Montclair State University, Montclair, NJ, USA; cTeaching and Teacher
Development, Montclair State University, Montclair, NJ, USA; dMathematics Pedagogy, Montclair State
University, Montclair, NJ, USA
b
ABSTRACT
This article presents findings from a two-year, qualitative study of
K-12 teacher Fellows involved in a grant-funded professional
development program. Aiming to foster sustainable change in
districts and support emergent teacher leadership, the program
enabled Fellows to collaboratively reflect on practice and develop
as teacher leaders who lead informally from the classroom. Using
activity theory as an analytical lens, the following main themes
emerged in the data: (1) Teacher leaders have complex definitions
of teacher leadership that parallel teaching beliefs; (2) Teacher
leaders need strong communication skills to collaborate within
different contexts; (3) Teacher leaders benefit from work on vertical articulation; and (4) School culture and administrative support
influences teacher leadership. We explore the implications for
professional development programs in districts, and in particular,
those that address the need to cultivate teacher leadership.
The context of the work of teachers continues to change (Bales, 2006; Hatch, White, &
Faigenbaum, 2005) as they face unprecedented challenges and have to navigate policy
directives that link their professional growth to student learning in their classrooms
(Darling-Hammond, 2000; Datnow, Hubbard, & Mehan, 2002; Fishman, Marx, Best, &
Tal, 2003; Spillane, 1999). In the U.S.A, for example, the No Child Left Behind Act equated
teacher effectiveness with high-stakes testing of students (McLaughlin & Talbert, 2006).
More recently, in 2015, the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) proposed that professional
development for teachers be evidence based and designed in response to their students’ test
results (Education Week, 2016). These policies as well as increased public scrutiny, deep
fiscal problems and ineffective highly bureaucratic administrations create an environment
where teachers question their worth in schools, do not feel job satisfaction and are generally
under tremendous stress (Flook, Goldberg, Pinger, Bonus, & Davidson, 2013: Johnson,
CONTACT Monica Taylor
taylorm@mail.montclair.edu
Department of Secondary and Special Education,
Montclair State University, University Hall 2142, Montclair, NJ 07043
Author Note
This study was made possible by a subaward grant through the University of Massachusetts Boston and was funded by
Wipro, a global information technology and consulting company.
© 2018 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group
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M. TAYLOR ET AL.
Kraft, & Papay, 2012; Margolis, 2008). Additionally, teachers remain in static school
cultures (Kennedy, 2005; Opfer & Pedder, 2011; Stigler & Hiebert, 1999) where high-stakes
testing is ever-present and professional development is facilitated by outside consultants
with pre-packaged programs (Cochran-Smith & Lytle, 2009; Lieberman & Miller, 2011;
Talbert, 2010). Their school environments make teacher leadership an impossibility as
teachers feel overburdened with minute responsibilities. However, contrary to the rationale
of policymakers to increase high-stakes testing as a means of increasing student achievement, a report commissioned and published by the Wallace Foundation (Leithwood,
Seashore, Anderson, & Walshtrom, 2004) found a direct relationship between strong
teacher leadership and increased student achievement, supporting the idea that teacher
leadership may be a promising way to cultivate teachers to become leaders aimed at
improving instructional practice in schools, with the potential to impact student learning
(Crowther, Kaagen, Ferguson, & Hann, 2002).
This article presents findings from a two-year, qualitative study of K-12 science teachers
involved in the Wipro Science Education Fellowship program, funded by Wipro, a global
information technology and consulting corporation. Aiming to foster sustainable change in
districts and support emergent teacher leadership, the program enabled Fellows to collaboratively reflect on practice and develop as teacher leaders who lead informally from the
classroom. To become teacher leaders, these Fellows assumed a learning orientation toward
their daily work (York-Barr & Duke, 2004), and problematized their teaching as active
learners (Cochran-Smith & Lytle, 2009; Grossman et al., 2009; Opfer & Pedder, 2011).
Constructing knowledge, having ownership of their learning and contributing to a larger
professional community all potentially contributed to their teacher leadership.
The Wipro SEF program spanned two years and was led in collaboration with
district coordinators from five participating school districts. During year one, Fellows
worked in vertical teams (content-based) and then in horizontal teams (grade levelbased) to study their practice through video. To setup their work, each team of five
Fellows chose a teaching practice to study, selected and discussed a research article
about that practice and provided feedback on every teacher’s videoed lesson. The
Fellows followed protocols for pre- and post-video debriefs and submitted reflections
for each observed teacher. The entire cohort met monthly with faculty in professional
development workshops on such topics as backward design, classroom discourse,
standards-based teaching, teacher leadership and action research.
In year two, Fellows designed and implemented a teacher leadership plan (a growth
plan system) in their district with support from university faculty and district mentors.
They delved deeply into their inquiries and expanded their spheres of influence to lead
professional development in their grades, schools and districts through conducting
action research, facilitating teacher study groups, mentoring and coaching teachers,
writing articles, presenting at conferences, running workshops or developing curricula.
In this study, we sought to understand how Fellows developed as teacher leaders
through their participation in the program and their actions in their schools and
districts. Our specific questions became:
● How did Fellows define teacher leadership over the course of the program?
● What skills and strategies did they identify as necessary for teacher leadership?
● How did the program nurture the Fellows as teacher leaders?
INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF LEADERSHIP IN EDUCATION
687
● What structures or school environments did they identify as supporting or hinder-
ing their ability to take up those actions?
In this article, we begin with a discussion of the teacher leadership literature in order
to contextualize the study. Next, we explain our rationale for using activity theory as
our conceptual analytical lens to complicate our findings and discover their nuances.
We then present our participants, data methods, analysis and findings as well as our
recommendations for future work in fostering change through teacher leadership.
Teacher leadership
York-Barr and Duke (2004) suggested that teacher leadership is the process by which
classroom teachers, individually or collectively, influence their colleagues, principals and
other members of the school community to improve teaching and learning practices. In a
recent paper from the Aspen Institute, Curtis (2013) defined teacher leadership as ‘specific
roles and responsibilities that recognize the talents of the most effective teachers and deploy
them in the service of student learning, adult learning and collaboration, and school and
system improvement’ (p. 4). Additionally, Curtis (2013) called teacher leaders ‘innovators,
researchers, champions of student learning, leaders of colleagues, and policy advocates’ (p.
4). Classroom teachers come to view leadership as part of their professional role, sharing
and enhancing professional learning within their school setting. They generate new knowledge for themselves from action (Reason & Bradbury, 2008) which leads to new initiatives
(Taylor, Goeke, Klein, Onore, & Geist, 2011) that affect change in their classrooms, schools
and communities (Onore, Goeke, Taylor, & Klein, 2009). Impacting the school beyond
their own classrooms involves: improving practice and deepening content knowledge,
mentoring, developing curriculum, nurturing professional communities, participating in
school decision-making, fostering change and challenging the status quo (Danielson, 2006;
Fairman & Mackenzie, 2012; Jacobs, Beck, & Crowell, 2014; Silva, Gimbert, & Nolan, 2000;
Stone & Cuper, 2006).
Because of the complexity of teacher leadership, its definition is often dynamic, fluid and
multiple. Muijs and Harris (2006) echoed this perspective when they wrote: ‘Leadership is a
fluid and emergent rather than a fixed phenomenon’ (p. 962). Teacher leadership can
emerge at the individual level, in collaboration with others, and within larger organizations
(Taylor, Goeke, Klein, Onore, & Geist, 2011). Being a teacher leader involves formal and
informal ways to improve instruction, learning, and school and classroom culture and these
vary across contexts, expectations and organizational structures (Fairman & Mackenzie,
2012; Mentzer, Czerniak, & Struble, 2014; Muijs & Harris, 2006; York-Barr & Duke, 2004).
Formal or informal impact could manifest as a result of an individual teacher leader or the
distributed leadership within an organization (Gigante & Firestone, 2008; Ritchie, 2012;
Ritchie, Tobin, Roth, & Carambo, 2007). From the latter perspective with a focus on the
relational (Donaldson, 2006; Muijs & Harris, 2006), systemic change through teacher
leadership can be explored across a school or district with attention given to trusting and
non-hierarchical relationships and interactions among administrators, teachers and students. Building these types of relationships where power is shared rather than allocated
involves creating mechanisms for democratic decision-making and negotiation of roles and
responsibilities. When teacher leaders are involved in decision-making (Muijs & Harris,
688
M. TAYLOR ET AL.
2007), they feel more supported in their leadership initiatives, more effective in achieving
systemic change, more connected to other teachers through networking opportunities
(Taylor, Yates, Meyer, & Kinsella, 2011) and more empowered, motivated and committed
to remaining a teacher (Muijs & Harris, 2006; Taylor, Yates, Meyer, & Kinsella, 2011).
According to the literature, teacher leaders are most effective when their principal relies
on them to achieve the larger goals and objectives of the school and actively scaffolds and
supports their transition into becoming teacher leaders (Weiner, 2011). Thus, in order for a
shift in leadership structure to occur at a school, focus cannot solely be on an individual
leader. Instead, an examination of the interactions between those in leadership roles, rather
than their actions, needs to occur. Teacher leadership is the most impactful when a
distributed leadership model is used which examines the work of teachers, teacher leaders,
administrators and others, in order to support a range of educational leadership types and
school reform (Gronn, 2000; Harris, 2008, 2010; Harris, Leithwood, Day, Sammons, &
Hopkins, 2007; Mayrowetz, 2008; Spillane, 2005; Spillane, Halverson, & Diamond, 2004).
Distributed leadership in schools has the potential to be relational, fluid and multidirectional actions that empower multiple stakeholders in schools. Gronn (2000) contended that ‘leadership needs to be distributed throughout the organization and not just
assigned to fixed positions’ (p. 333) like administrators. Spillane, Halverson, and
Diamond (2001) reminded us that leadership happens in a variety of ways throughout
a school and is centered on interactions between people ‘depending on the particular
leadership task, school leaders’ knowledge and expertise may be best explored at the
group or collective level rather than at the individual leader’s level’ (p. 25).
Our study helped us realize the complexities and nuances of nurturing teacher leaders in
order to promote sustainable school change. As Spillane et al. (2001) emphasized above, we
hoped to examine the interactions of our teacher leaders at the individual, collaborative and
school organization levels and take account of with whom they worked as well as what
contextual factors impacted their influence. Examining distributed leadership led us to
think about using the activity theory framework as an analytical lens for our data. We
believe that without the use of activity theory, the findings would appear simplistic and
predictable. Using activity theory reminded us of the messiness of enacting sustainable
change and the obstacles that emerge when certain variables are absent from this work.
Below we explain activity theory in relationship to our teacher leadership study.
Activity theory
Adding to the theoretical underpinnings informing the current study, we focused on the
sociocultural notion that ‘defines human learning as a dynamic social activity that is
situated in physical and social contexts, and distributed across persons, tools, and activities’
(Johnson, 2006, p. 237) and is essentially contextualized within the theoretical parameters
of activity theory (Engeström, Miettinen, & Punamäki, 1999; Leontiev, 1978). Activity
theory (Engeström, 1999; Engeström et al., 1999; Kaptelinin & Nardi, 2006) is an appropriate theoretical lens to analyze the guiding questions for this study because it enables the
analysis of the myriad of actions performed by teacher leaders during their leadership
activities. Many scholars argue that activity theory is not a ‘theory’ in a strict interpretation
of the term, but a conceptual framework offering a set of principles for generating more
specific theories (Kaptelinin & Nardi, 2006; Kuutti, 1996). There are two fundamental
INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF LEADERSHIP IN EDUCATION
689
concepts that underpin activity theory: one is that knowledge is mediated through tools and
artifacts, and the other is that human activity is the fundamental unit of analysis
(Engeström et al., 1999).
In recent years, Engeström (1999) created a complex model of an activity system, yet
this theory has its primary roots in Marxism and aims at describing actions and
interactions in social settings. Aligned with Marxist beliefs, activity theory first shows
a link between the individual subject and objective societal structures, as a way for
understanding and interpreting change. Building upon this, activity theory has its
historical foundations in the sociocultural and social cognition work of Russian psychologists Vygotsky, Leont’ev, and Luria (Engeström et al., 1999). Engeström (1999)
describes the evolution of activity theory through several generations, all of which focus
on the connections between situated knowing and doing. The version drawn upon in
this study, referred to as the second generation, describes the social influences and
interdependencies in a complex web of human activity. Depicted below in the triangular model in Figure 1, an activity system is comprised of seven interacting elements
including the object, outcome, subject, tools, rules, community and division of labor.
In an activity system, the ultimate aim is to reach an outcome, which can only be
achieved by co-constructing certain objects shaped by a number of tools or mediating
artifacts. The subject is the individual or group aiming to achieve the object. The object
can be considered as the objective – that is, what is the subject trying to achieve? For
example, if we considered a teacher (subject) in a school setting, the tools would be the
teacher’s instructional resources and the teacher’s objective could be focused on developing
an innovative constructivist-based unit. When the subject engages in an activity, there
exists a set of rules (implicit or explicit) that influence how the activity occurs. The activity is
also influenced by the community, which interacts with the subject. The community refers
to a group of individuals or organization mediated by a general shared object. The subject(s)
and the activity are also influenced by the division of labor, which determines how the work
load is handled. This division of labor refers to both the horizontal division of task among
members of the community and to the vertical division of power and status. Continuing
Figure 1. Activity system. Adapted from Daniels, H., Guiterrez, K. D., & Sannino, A. (2009). Learning
and expanding with activity theory (p. 89), York, England: Cambridge University Press. Adapted with
permission.
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M. TAYLOR ET AL.
with the earlier example, the teacher must mediate between resources available to her, be
mindful of the district curriculum (rules), recognize the influence and demands of the
school community with regard to the appropriateness and support of developing the unit,
and finally, decide the unit of study being developed with grade- or department-level
colleagues (division of labor). Rules, community and division of labor are the social basis
of the activity, which provide the context, influence the subject and shape the activity
(Engeström et al., 1999; Yamagata-Lynch, 2010).
The aforementioned components in an activity system are not static nor do they
exist in isolation from each other. The interplay between elements, as represented by
the arrows in Figure 1, captures these reciprocal relationships that can provide opportunities for change. A researcher may find a ‘breakdown’ in a reciprocal relationship,
represented by a dashed arrow. These are considered ‘contradictions’ (Russell &
Schneiderheinze, 2005) or sites of tension that allow shifts to occur in the system as
mediated by the subject, object, and/or artifacts and tools. Engeström and his colleagues
argued that the constant change and movement within the system acts to bring about
expansive learning. Therefore, an examination of any phenomenon using activity
theory as an analytical lens necessitates a diligent examination of the dynamic nature
of and interrelations among these components.
In our research, we used activity theory to analyze how our Fellows took up identities as
teacher leaders. The six elements of the activity structure helped us to understand the
process of emergent teacher leadership within our program. Fellows (science teacher
participants) were the subject, teacher leadership the object and distributed leadership
the intended outcome. The linear path was mediated through tools, rules, community and
the division of labor. These elements played a dynamic role in Fellows engaging in actions
that were directed toward their own object or goals in order for them to construct their own
meaning of teacher leadership, and eventually, enact change in their schools. The community in this model referred to the different subgroups of individuals who participated and
interacted with the Fellows. For example, the horizontal group of the Fellow established one
community, while the vertical group could be considered another. Fellows could be
engaged in several different communities where interactions between themselves, their
peers and other elements played a role in determining the pathway toward their development as teacher leaders and ultimately toward promoting change. Another dimension to
this activity system was the division of labor, which for our purposes was composed of
district coordinators, district administrators, Fellows and other teachers. In our activity
system, the rules and conventions were inductively identified by the voices of teacher
leaders and district coordinators during the monthly meetings. The activity systems were
dynamic and were constantly disrupted by the interactions between the various components. Engeström (1999) referred to these disturbances as deviations, specifically the
tensions between the Fellow, her development as a teacher leader and communities to
which she belonged that supported the transformation. These tensions essentially became
the driving force to help transform the overall system. Much of the work in teacher
leadership has been under theorized, and we believe that using activity theory as an
analytical lens revealed some of the nuances of becoming a teacher leader as well as some
of the constraints that emerge through the teacher leadership activities.
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Methods
This study used qualitative research methods to explore the dynamic and complex work
of becoming a teacher leader (Merriam, 2009). We took a phenomenological approach
to understanding the beliefs, intentions, knowledge and actions of participants related
to teacher leadership. By studying their initial and emerging beliefs as well as their
learning through research and their teacher leadership practices in situ and examining
these through an activity theory lens, this study was able to uncover the dynamics of the
praxis of the participants as they became teacher leaders.
Setting and Participants
This grant-funded professional development program in science teacher leadership was
housed at a U.S. Northeastern public state university. It was led collaboratively by
faculty in the College of Education and the College of Science and Mathematics and in
partnership with five local school districts. Each school district comprised high-needs
schools and represented diverse student populations. In order to underscore the
importance of district-level participation and teachers’ ownership of the program,
most of the monthly workshops were held in the districts.
Eight out of 20 members of the first cohort of the program agreed to participate in
the study. A prerequisite for admission was at least three years of teaching experience.
Fellows were male and female, between the ages of 25 and 55, and with 3–30 years of
teaching experience. There were four high school teachers (Anna, Jill, Oscar, Pat) and
four middle school teachers (Beth, Sue, Miranda, Doug) from four out of five of the
participating school districts. None of the elementary school teachers chose to participate in the study. We believe this is because science is only one content of several that
they teach each day and is not their primary focus of instruction. Fellows that did agree
to participate in the study consented to being interviewed and also allowed us to
analyze all reflections and artifacts.
Data Collection and Analysis
For this study, we primarily examined transcripts from interviews with the Fellows.
Fellows were interviewed three times over the course of two years: at the beginning of
the program, and at the end of the first year and at the end of the second year of the
program. Semi-structured interviews, lasting approximately 1 hour, were conducted
and transcribed.
In addition, we collected the following artifacts as secondary data: (a) admissions data
including essays about their ideas about teacher leadership; (b) team protocols of preobservation forms, notes about video reflections and post-observation notes; (c) field notes
from semi-annual group presentations; and (d) their second-year teacher leadership action
plans and reflections. Each participant created two video artifacts: one conducted for the
vertical team and the other for the horizontal team. These videos were filmed focused on
the teaching of the Fellows and served as a means of checking teacher reflections on
practice. Although these artifacts were secondary data to the interview transcripts, they did
serve as a means of triangulating the findings that emerged.
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M. TAYLOR ET AL.
The constant-comparative method of qualitative data analysis (Glaser & Strauss, 1967)
was used to code, sort and categorize data. The six members of the research team began by
individually identifying themes and their examples. We engaged in emergent coding
related to our research questions; researchers developed codes to reflect the different
definitions of teacher leadership, the actions Fellows took up in relation to the program
and the structures they indicated as supports and hindrances. We shared our patterns
through an excel spreadsheet on google docs and then met as a group to discuss our
proposed codes. We collectively clarified and generated hierarchies of codes, triangulating
the categories of each individual researcher, looking for patterns and consistencies.
Initially, our themes were quite superficial and represented very generalized overarching
ideas. These included: (1) Definitions of teacher leadership; (2) The relational aspects of
teacher leadership; and (3) District constraints to teacher leadership. We then returned to
the data and look across multiple sources beyond the interview transcripts to triangulate
the codes that emerged. This led us to deepen and expand our findings to the following: (1)
Teacher leaders have complex definitions of teacher leadership that parallel teaching
beliefs; (2) Teacher leaders need strong communication skills to collaborate within
different contexts; (3) Teacher leaders benefit from work on vertical articulation; and (4)
School culture and administrative support influences teacher leadership. Realizing that
some of these findings might seem obvious, we began to brainstorm ways to problematize
them. Examining the literature, we came upon activity theory and used it as an analytical
lens to see the complexities and nuances of these findings. Finally, from there, we
developed interpretations across categories and verified the findings.
We used triangulation as well as member checking as a means to ensure trustworthiness and credibility. For example, we triangulated the interview data in two ways: first,
we examined all interview transcripts of each individual participant for patterns or
themes; and then we looked across the eight interview sets to see whether those findings
were consistently present. Additionally, we invited the participants to take a look at the
themes and clarify whether or not they represented their thinking at the time of the
interview and if there were any missing pieces of information.
Findings
In this section, we present the findings of our study through the lens of activity theory,
specifically articulating the relationship of Fellows in their development as teacher
leaders to corresponding components of the systems of their schools. Our data revealed
four significant findings related to teacher leadership. Within all our findings, the
intended pathway for the activity system can be seen in Figure 2:
SUBJECT
FELLOWS
OBJECT
SCIENCE TEACHER LEADERSHIP
OUTCOME
TEACHING AND LEARNING
Figure 2. Activity Pathway. Adapted from Daniels, H., Guiterrez, K. D., & Sannino, A. (2009). Learning
and expanding with activity theory (p. 89), York, England: Cambridge University Press. Adapted with
permission.
INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF LEADERSHIP IN EDUCATION
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Figure 3. Activity System for Science Teacher Leaders. Adapted from Daniels, H., Guiterrez, K. D., &
Sannino, A. (2009). Learning and expanding with activity theory (p. 89), York, England: Cambridge
University Press. Adapted with permission.
Teacher leaders have complex definitions of teacher leadership that
parallel teaching beliefs
Figure 3 is a graphic representation of the ways in which we use subjects, tools, objects
and outcomes as activity system components to describe this finding.
In this section, using activity theory to analyze Fellows’ conceptualizations of teacher
leadership in response to our first research question unearthed two primary definitions:
teacher leader as content knowledge expert and teacher leader as co-constructor of knowledge. Applying activity theory, we show how individual definitions formulated by Fellows
are linked to their specific teaching beliefs. By viewing Fellows as the subjects in Engeström’s
model, we found that their definition of teacher leadership impacted the tools they chose to
use in order to obtain the object, teacher leadership and ultimately their outcome, change in
schools. Those that conceptualized teacher leaders as teaching experts who convey information directly and model what teachers ought to do, relied on tools such as pedagogical
content knowledge, curriculum and instructional techniques in order to act as teacher
leaders. Their pathways involved direct instruction or transmission. For example, Oscar
explained how teacher leadership involved being an expert in content knowledge:
It would be cool to be able to be like the person, ‘Oh, I’m having a hard time teaching
density, Can you help me?’ And being like, ‘Yes! I have this great thing we can do. Let’s
go!’. . . Kind of like a super-hero. (Interview 2, January)
Oscar (the subject of the activity) saw his teacher leader role as a knowledge transmitter
who used the tools of pedagogical content knowledge and instructional practices to
promote change. Similarly, other Fellows emphasized the need for teacher leaders to be
knowledge providers. Miranda stated, ‘It is somebody whose full-time focus is in
topnotch pedagogy’, while Doug adds:
being . . . in charge of stuff . . . more because you are competent about it and you know you
have that knowledge and you know that you are going to be able to give that knowledge to
someone else. (Interview 3, August)
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M. TAYLOR ET AL.
In contrast, some Fellows viewed teacher leadership as a more democratic role, where
the teacher leader (subject) facilitated professional learning of other teachers through a
constructivist approach. Similar to above, the tools utilized by these Fellows are also
pedagogical content knowledge, curriculum and instructional techniques, yet the pathway to teacher leadership, the object or change in schools, the outcome, was very
different. For instance, Doug who described science learning as a student-centered
process had the following vision of teacher leadership:
A science teacher leader is someone who is a resource for other teachers that they have
someone to go to ask as a guide for questions, when they want to find new ways. It’s not a
supervisor. It’s almost like a mentor role. You know you understand what you are doing
and others can learn from you without it being a formal process. (Interview 2, January)
From this perspective, teacher leadership is about learning alongside one another by
doing, by engaging in a collective activity that involves teachers engaging in hands on
experiences through the guidance of facilitators. This view of teacher leadership resonated with Patric, who emphasized the need for teacher leaders to ‘encourage growth
within their district by adding and by sharing innovation and encouragement with
other teachers’ (Interview 3, August). He compared teacher leadership to the ways in
which he approached his students in the classroom.
Using activity theory as an analytical lens reminded us that even those Fellows who
saw their leadership as a collaborative engagement with others still continued to think
about teacher leadership as actions that primarily are led and directed by one person.
They did not recognize the usefulness of the variables that contributed to their
collaborative interactions with multiple learning tools. In this way, the activity system
was missing important parts to allow for a more unexpected dynamic from within the
system (internal contradictions) or from outside (external contradictions).
Teacher leaders need strong communication skills to collaborate within different contexts
Again, we use Figure 4 to explain the activity system of subjects, tools, community,
rules, objects and outcomes for this finding.
In order to promote change in schools, the Fellows as teacher leaders acted as agents of
the activity. In this capacity, they identified themselves as marketers who influenced other
teachers. Working with their peers and encouraging change were activities mediated by
tools such as the communication and marketing skills the Fellows needed in order to reach
varied audiences and promote innovative science education. The Fellows discussed the
importance of involving other members of their communities who they recruited and with
whom they collaborated to work toward determined goals of change. As Jill explained, a
teacher leader relies on communication with the right people: ‘But you may need more [to
work with parents, business leaders, and policymakers]. The communication is more
important than the content’ (Interview 2, January). Annie said, ‘They are usually the one
that is trying to reach out more to the community, or reach in’ (Interview 3, August). The
Fellows clearly recognized the community, which represented all of their potential collaborators, as an essential component within the activity system in order to achieve the
desired object and outcome. A third fellow, Oscar, emphasized that teacher leadership
cannot be done in isolation. He shared:
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Tools(Communication and Marking Skills)
(Explicit or Implicit
school rule or norms)
(Parents, administration,
teachers, stakeholders)
Figure 4. Activity System for STLs as change agents. Adapted from Daniels, H., Guiterrez, K. D., &
Sannino, A. (2009). Learning and expanding with activity theory (p. 89), York, England: Cambridge
University Press. Adapted with permission.
You have to build those teams of people that will do it together or help each other out or
work toward the common goal not . . . you know the leadership that is really one person
just running the show. (Interview 3, August)
All three examples demonstrated an expanded activity system that included more components and interactions within the system. The Fellows or subjects described the necessary
skills or what activity theory calls tools they needed in order to reach the stakeholders or
community, which is essential to utilizing teacher leaders as change agents in schools, the
ultimate object and outcome.
Sue felt that as a teacher leader you need to be very ‘careful and diplomatic’ in your
conversations with others as you bridge the work to outsiders. This notion added another
activity theory component, that of social rules and norms. Fellows noted that teacher
leaders need to ‘feel comfortable working with administration from the science supervisor
all the way to superintendent’ in addition to being able to work with fellow teachers in a
‘very professional way’ (Interview 2, January). They suggested that in collaborating with
peers, they needed ‘a mix of empathy and . . . I guess strength, to look for what they are
having trouble with’ (Interview 3, August). Oscar described how to talk to peers in the
following way: ‘My language is more casual . . . need the magic combination of strength and
authority and mixed with humbleness and respect’ (Interview 2, January).
Because most of them saw the nature of their work as relational (Donaldson, 2006), they
reflected deeply about how they communicated with others and the kinds of relationships
they developed through their work. The notion of relational teacher leadership is one that is
less about formal roles and more about the ‘spaces’ between people, and how those spaces
and relationships inspire others to engage in practice. This resonates with xxxx, xxxx, xxxx,
xxxx, and xxxx who write, ‘Thus, a key asset of teacher leadership is mobilization of
naturally occurring and informal collaborations among teachers’ (p. 921). This can involve
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using a variety of different strategies including, as Fairman and Mackenzie (2015) describe:
‘sharing, modelling, coaching, collaborating learning together, and advocating’ (p. 70).
Miranda highlighted that ‘they need to talk to teacher[s] so they don’t talk down, when
giving professional development its more working together with them, not talking at them’
(Interview 2, January). Essentially, Fellows need to have a working knowledge of the social
rules as well as ways to navigate them to successfully reach the community.
Jill shared that her role was as a point person who engaged her peers in learning:
I guess it would be to get our district ready for Next Generation Science Standards . . .
my focus with the Growth Plan System. Just getting people comfy and rewriting
curriculum. Also being positive about sharing what I learned over the past year’.
(Interview 3, August)
In this particular activity system, the Fellows understood their colleagues’ frustrations, but saw their roles as helping to support this particular change. Reaching out to
their administrators and fellow teachers, they were advocating for innovative science
curricula in their schools.
From the above discussion, we see that the Fellows’ identities as teacher leaders had to
be fluid in order to access different communities. Multiple Fellows shared about the need
to ‘adjust to who your target stakeholder audience is’ when communicating. This
demonstrates some progress in beginning to understand that teacher leadership involves
more than just individual acts. It involves mobilizing others to work with them toward
change. But interestingly, by using activity theory, we were able to observe the static and
one-directional nature of this mobilization and how limiting this individually driven
agenda was, and what aspects of the context were not taken up to create a shared vision.
Teacher leaders benefit from work on vertical articulation
This finding is represented by Figure 5 that highlights the tools, rules and community of
the activity system and how all three of these directly impact the subject’s progression
through the activity system.
Our data indicated the Fellows developed professionally as a direct result of interacting
across districts in vertical groupings made up of elementary, middle and high school
science teachers. Because the vertical groupings were structures of the program, the activity
development invited the Fellows to grow professionally as teacher leaders and deepen and
apply their tools or pedagogical content knowledge (Shulman, 1986) related to curriculum,
student understanding and teaching practices. This was done through attention to the rules,
the implicit and explicit norms of the vertical groups, and participation in the community,
made up of the vertical groups, other fellows and district coordinators.
Fellows gained a deeper understanding of the K-12 curricula, became better equipped to
work with teachers at various levels and were involved in deeper discussion that required
them to investigate student conceptions and misconceptions. For example, several teachers
discussed the heightened awareness of students’ prior educational experiences which, as
Oscar put it, ‘enlightened me as to what to expect when students arrived’ (Interview 2,
January) to consider revising their instructional approach.
Through their focused interactions and reflections, which are represented by the
rules of the vertical groups, Fellows became aware of their own transitions toward
INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF LEADERSHIP IN EDUCATION
697
Pedagogical Content Knowledge
(Fellows)
(Implicit or Explicit Norms
of Vertical Groups)
(Vertical Colleagues,
District Coordinators)
Figure 5. Activity System for STLs as change agents. Adapted from Daniels, H., Guiterrez, K. D., &
Sannino, A. (2009). Learning and expanding with activity theory (p. 89), York, England: Cambridge
University Press. Adapted with permission.
inquiry-based teaching and the requisite need to increase pedagogical content knowledge. Fellows relied upon this knowledge to support students to ‘think like scientists’,
stray from the textbooks and encourage student-driven dialogue with the overarching
goal of increasing student learning in the sciences. Sue commented: ‘We need to let go
and give more control to kids. It’s challenging, but I see the light at the end of the
tunnel’ (Debrief Transcript, Vertical Group). The collaborative environment, fostered
by the rules and community, pushed them to question their long-held practices: ‘I want
to teach in the old style . . . but kids don’t do that (n)or do they like it. They may learn it
for an exam . . . but they don’t keep it’ (Interview 2, January). Through their collaboration, they recognized each other as ‘experts’ and appreciated the opportunity to watch
the ‘best’ teachers implement similar lessons using different instructional methods. This
type of exchange broadened their teaching repertoire and also helped them to collectively identify ways to revise and innovate science teaching and learning.
Through the use of activity theory as an analytical lens, we noted the imbalances that
emerged between the subjects’ interactions with rules and tools from several vertical groups
between structures. Imbalances are developmentally significant and exist in the form of
resistance to achieving the goals of the intended objective (Engeström, 1999). For example,
the high school teachers were surprised by the capabilities of elementary and middle
students leading them to realize the need to raise their expectations of students. This
highlights the impact between interacting components of an activity system, and specifically how infrequent the conversations are typically between teachers from different grade
levels. By having Fellows work through these tensions given the rules and norms of the
vertical grouping, they noted a newfound appreciation for teachers of lower grades. The
elementary teachers impressed their colleagues with their pedagogical content knowledge
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M. TAYLOR ET AL.
related to science at their grade level. As Jill remarked, ‘the elementary teachers were really
doing science . . . because, sometimes, you know, you don’t know because it’s not their
major’ (Debrief Transcript, Vertical Group). This comment indicated the rarity of communication between science teachers of different grade levels without the inherent structure
of vertical articulation. Fellows recognized the value of crossing community boundaries, an
area that was once risky, now had become possible because of the tools, rules and
community.
Activity theory helped us to realize that to some extent the success of the vertical team
collaboration was in part because of the ways in which these teams were created through the
fellowship program. Both the Fellows as well as the district coordinators noted that vertical
teaming was not a common collaborative leadership process within their districts. So by
creating this ‘artificial’ type of leading with others, we drew attention to the kinds of rules,
community culture and structure of the program necessary for Fellows to work toward
achieving their goal. It served as an entry into thinking about the interplay between Fellows
as agents of change and the professional and contexts within which they work. Endeavors
like vertical collaboration, however, also revealed to Fellows aspects of their leadership
interactions that were missing within their own district contexts.
School culture and administrative support influences teacher leadership
In order to articulate this final theme, we developed Figure 6 that focuses on the
division of labor and the rules of the activity system.
The school and district culture and administrative support were important
structures which influenced the Fellows’ ability to take up teacher leadership
actions. The division of labor within the different districts affected our Fellows’
teacher leadership role. Fellows were directly connected to others (district coordinators, department supervisors and principals), and these complex links represented the organization of individuals or division of labor within the activity
system of each fellow. Since all Fellows had the same goal within their activity
pathway, to become teacher leaders and promote change, the level of engagement
by the district coordinators, department supervisors and/or principals affected the
outcome of improved teaching and learning. This was surprising to us as all of the
Tool
Figure 6. Activity System for STLs as change agents. Adapted from Daniels, H., Guiterrez, K. D., &
Sannino, A. (2009). Learning and expanding with activity theory (p. 89), York, England: Cambridge
University Press. Adapted with permission.
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participating districts were selected based on enthusiasm and interest in nurturing
science teacher leaders.
System imbalances can arise when there is a conflict between different processes in the
activity system. Though Fellows acknowledged that their administrators supported them with
resources, they felt that they were often neglected and lacked administrative support for their
work. This showed us how the division of labor component caused tension with the subject’s
pathway toward her outcome. In particular, Annie shared that too often their administrators
lacked specific expertise in science instruction: ‘Neither one of my administrators are science
oriented. So, I think they probably don’t know if I am teaching correctly or not’ (Interview 3,
August). If administrators were more knowledgeable about science pedagogical content
knowledge, they could focus on what a Fellow called ‘the power of teaching science’
(Interview 3, August). This awareness encouraged them to promote science learning, the
direct outcome wanted by the Fellows. Problematizing this frequent dilemma in schools,
Miranda suggested that her role could become that of a liaison to explain science standards
and instruction to administrators and ‘bridge the gap’ (Interview 3, August). Ultimately,
Fellows articulated their hope that administrative support would move beyond material
resources to deeper pedagogical commitments around innovative science instruction.
Different stakeholders within an activity system often have different rules to guide them
within their activity. As Fellows reflected on their emergence as science teacher leaders in
their schools and districts, they repeatedly pointed out the time demands necessary for these
new and often informal and unofficial roles. They willingly took on these added responsibilities as teacher leaders because of their professional commitment to their students and
schools, but continually were surprised at the infrequent recognition by their administrators.
As Beth stated, ‘I think a lot of teachers do think they don’t get appreciated much . . . If you do
something wrong, there’s a big meeting about it, but if you do something that’s right, it’s like,
‘well, that’s nice’ (Interview 3, August). Miranda remarked:
We haven’t been acknowledged at all. The person in charge has yet to call us out or even
acknowledge us at a meeting. We have been left to our own devices. This really disappoints
me because the district acted as if they supported this’. (Interview 3, August)
Jill shared her frustration:
I’ve been doing this 12 years and no one has told me if I am a teacher leader. Now to sit
and work with other teachers I never met and realize I am doing it right and my vision is
positive really helps me and motivates’. (Interview 2, January)
Needing external recognition to increase motivation, we realized that teacher leadership could not flourish in isolation. With little-to-no support from building administrators, the tensions of the activity were underscored causing challenges for Fellows to
enact their teacher leadership.
Without placing blame on the administration, Fellows observed that bureaucratic
pressure from increased correlation of teacher evaluations to students’ standardized test
scores (an initiative which begun during our first year of the fellowship program) has
impacted the culture of their schools and has shifted the focus from instruction to excessive
paperwork. So much time is spent ‘documenting and data logging and thinking of ways to
make more data . . . so then the part that is important, spending time doing lessons and
collaboration with other teachers’ is neglected (Interview 2, January). Such rules created
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school cultures that made it difficult for Fellows to become change agents. These types of
environments either blocked change or did not have mechanisms to recognize weak areas
that needed improvement. Fellows acknowledged that their charge involves significantly
changing science curriculum, teaching and fundamental beliefs about teaching science,
which at times felt daunting and counter to the norms of the school. Jill described her
attempts with new curriculum as a ‘double edged sword’ because of the angry responses of
some of her colleagues. She pointed out ‘sometimes you have to step in and put your say in
there. . . If they adjust it or knock you down so be it’ (Interview 2, January). Ultimately,
being a teacher leader and making change was challenging and required a certain willingness to take risks.
Activity theory helped to reveal the importance of the foundational components that
formed the base of the activity: namely the rules, community and division of labor. To
be an effective teacher leader necessitated having local administrators like department
chairs and/or principals involved in the activities necessary to make change. In our case,
although we had science district coordinators participating in the program, these may
not have been the building administrators of our Fellows. Without direct support and
more importantly active engagement from local administrators, some of our Fellows
struggled to make impact, encourage their colleagues to get involved or even feel
confident to take risks.
This study used activity theory as an analytical framework to examine the role of
Fellows in teacher leader positions toward sustainable change. Using an activity system
that situated the Fellow in various contexts revealed the consequences and tensions that
emerged for Fellows in our program. Our research has confirmed that activity theory, as
a framework for analyzing data, provided a means for observing the emergence of
patterns in human activity in terms of achieving goals and purposes, through the use of
mediating tools and artifacts. In other words, activity theory illuminated the multiple
contextual factors that contributed to a Fellow achieving their ultimate outcome of
sustainable school change.
Conclusion
Through the use of activity theory as an analytical lens, we realized that effective teacher
leadership requires a shift from focusing on nurturing the individual fellow and her
development as a leader to an emphasis on interaction and activity. To examine leadership
and its impact, it is more useful to borrow from distributed leadership where the focus is on
the activity and its particular contextual factors such as the leaders, followers and situations.
As Spillane et al. (2004) write, ‘Depending on the particular leadership task, school leaders’
knowledge and expertise may be best explored at the group or collective level rather than at
the individual leader’s level’ (p. 25). This shift reveals the ways in which leadership practice
is situated in cultural, historical and institutional settings and reminds us to consider how
the practice of leadership is stretched over leaders, followers and the material and symbolic
artifacts of the situation. We have begun to think about how promoting sustainable change
through teacher leadership requires a multi-pronged approach where work is conducted
with not only teachers, but also building administrators and district coordinators. We are
also developing a notion of change that is collective as opposed to individual, recognizing
that teacher leaders cannot work alone to make change, but must work alongside each other
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for it to take hold. Moving away from thinking of the Fellows in terms of their individual
personalities, dispositions and strategies has the potential to help us consider more
integrative understandings of leadership at the level of the school and the various actors,
tools and structures that are required for sustainable change. This echoes the work of
Fairman and Mackenzie (2015) who advise moving away from ‘notions of leadership in the
narrow sense of the qualities a person has or what role he or she plays’ (p. 81). We agree that
teacher leadership is instead collaborative, interactive and always evolving.
These findings have important implications for our program and as well as the ways in
which we study its impact. So far, we have mostly investigated our program’s influence on
developing teacher leaders and working with district coordinators. We realize now that we
cannot really study the impact of our Fellows as teacher leaders if we do not do so within the
context of their schools and alongside their district as well as building administrators. In
our program, we worked collaboratively with the district coordinators but we have not
explicitly focused on strategies to elevate the status of teacher leaders in the districts. In
other words, to make significant impact we have realized that we need to work with
building administrators to explicitly strategize how to best use and rely on the Fellows as
teacher leaders to support sustainable change. Drawing from the work of Klar, Huggins,
Hammonds, and Buskey (2016), we recognize the potential ability of principals to create
leadership opportunities for teacher leaders, support them through their role transition and
acknowledge the cyclical process of enacting teacher leadership. Additionally, we realize
that how we do this needs to be context specific because what works for a particular
endeavor in one district may not actually work in another district.
We are reminded of the importance of fostering school contexts that embrace
and recognize the leadership capability of all members and support leadership as a
form of agency that can be taken up around particular activities or endeavors by a
variety of stakeholders (Harris, 2003). Extending leadership opportunities to teacher leaders is powerful in that it acknowledges the diverse and important roles
that teachers undertake daily and how these tasks positively enhance the ultimate
goal of teaching and learning (Harris & Lambert, 2003). It is clear that teacher
leadership must be viewed with an emphasis upon collective action, empowerment
and shared agency as reflected in a distributed leadership framework. Since leadership roles are played by multiple individuals, whether in formal or informal
positions, the distributed leadership notion emphasizes the act of leadership is
neither a top-down nor a bottom-up approach but recognizes that leadership roles
are played by different people at different time, including teachers and school
administrators (Harris, 2010; Spillane, 2006; Spillane et al., 2001). We believe our
fellowship program has the potential to address this through co-constructing the
organizational tools and structures necessary to support collaborative interactions
and activities among teacher leaders and their school leaders.
Disclosure statement
No potential conflict of interest was reported by the authors.
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Funding
This work was supported by a subaward grant through the University of Massachusetts Boston
and was funded by Wipro, a global information technology and consulting company.
Notes on contributors
Monica Taylor is a professor and deputy chair of the Department of Secondary and Special
Education at Montclair State University. She has several publications on teaching for social
justice, urban teacher education, teacher leadership and self-study of teacher education practices.
She is co-PI of the Wipro Science Education Fellows grant which supports science teacher leaders
in five districts in New Jersey. Her most recent book, co-written with Emily J. Klein, is A year in
the life of a third space urban teacher residency: using inquiry to re-invent teacher education.
Emily J. Klein is a former high school English teacher and currently an associate professor at
Montclair State University in the Department of Secondary and Special Education and member
of the doctoral faculty. She is currently co-PI on the WIPRO Science Education Fellows grant
that supports science teacher leadership in five districts in New Jersey. The author of several
articles on teacher professional learning, teacher leadership and urban teacher residencies, Dr.
Klein’s first book Going to scale with new school designs: Reinventing high school, was published
by Teachers College Press. Her second book, A year in the life of a third space urban teacher
residency: Using inquiry to reinvent teacher education, was published by Sense Publishers in 2015.
Mika Munakata is a Professor of Mathematics Education at Montclair State University. She is
currently working on projects that range from creativity in undergraduate science and mathematics education to teacher leadership for K-12 science teachers. She is also the director of the
Ph.D. program in Mathematics Education at MSU.
Kristen Trabona is a doctoral candidate in the Teacher Education Teacher Development Ph.D.
program at Montclair state university. She currently works as the Vice Principal of McNair Academic
High School in Jersey City, NJ. Other roles have included Supervisor of Science and science teacher.
She is currently working on research around teacher leadership for K-12 science teachers and is
beginning to explore race and equity through a teacher leadership lens in her district.
Zareen Rahman is a doctoral candidate in mathematics education at Montclair State University.
Her research interests include teacher development and learning as well as supporting teachers in
implementing research-based curricula. She is currently working on projects focusing on professional development for teachers ranging from middle school to undergraduate adjunct instructors and teacher leadership for K-12 Science teachers.
Jason McManus contributed to this paper while he was a doctoral student in the Mathematics
Education program. He has worked on a variety of projects including ones that explored
computer-based mathematics learning for undergraduate students and mathematics and science
interdisciplinary connections.
ORCID
Kristen Trabona
http://orcid.org/0000-0003-1441-6296
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distributed perspective. Educational Researcher, 30(3), 23–28.
Spillane, J., Halverson, R., & Diamond, J. (2004). Towards a theory of leadership practise: A
distributed perspective. Journal of Curriculum Studies, 36(1), 3–34.
Stigler, J. W., & Hiebert, J. (1999). The teaching gap: Best ideas from the world’s teachers for
improving education in the classroom. New York, NY: Free Press.
Stone, R., & Cuper, P. (2006). Best practises for teacher leadership: What award-winning teachers
do for their professional learning communities. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.
Talbert, J. E. (2010). Professional learning communities at the crossroads: How systems hinder or
engender change. In A. Hargreaves, A. Lieberman, M. Fullan, & D. Hopkins (Eds.), Second
international handbook of educational change (pp. 555–571). Dordrecht, Netherlands:
Springer. Blinded for Review.
Weiner, J. M. (2011). Finding common ground: Teacher leaders and principals speak out about
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decades of scholarship. Review of Educational Research, 74(3), 255–316.
RES 8100 – Nature of Knowing: Introduction to Research
Methods
I. Course Information
Course: RES 8100 – Nature of Knowing: Introduction to Research Methods
Semester Credit Hours: 3.0
Course CRN and Section: 51568 – L01
Semester and Year: Summer I 2022
Course Start and End Dates: 05/09/2022 – 08/14/2022
Building and Room: Online Venue – CANVAS
II. Instructor Information
Professor: Dr. Vanaja P Sivalingam
Email: nethi@nova.edu
Phone: 9542628603 Office Hours: Please email the Instructor in Canvas to schedule an appointment
III. Class Schedule and Location
Day Date
05/09/2022 – 08/14/2022
Time Location
Building/Room
Programs On-line Online Venue-CANVAS
IV. Course Description
Catalog Description
The purpose of this common course is to provide an intellectual foundation for conducting educational
research. Students will (a) understand the differences between quantitative and qualitative research; (b)
locate, read, and evaluate educational and social science research articles; and (c) identify a research
problem. Students will engage in scholarly writing using appropriate format and style, while learning
concepts such as paraphrasing and plagiarism. In addition, students will develop the necessary skills to be
successful in an online course environment; participate in synchronous and asynchronous course activities;
and utilize technology for productivity, communication, and engagement. Prerequisite/s: None
Course Rationale:
This is the first research course in the four-course research sequence in the EdD program and is designed
to develop students’ understanding of scientific inquiry. This course is centered on the premise that today’s
practitioners in the social sciences including education need a strong foundation in research to become
discerning consumers and effective decision-makers. An in-depth understanding of how to engage in
scholarly research should enable professionals to make research-based decisions in their respective fields.
Familiarity with research will also have a positive impact on practice and policy development.
V. Course Objectives / Learning Outcomes
Upon completion of this course the student should be able to: 1) Demonstrate an understanding of basic
ethical considerations for any research investigation. 2) Evaluate works for plagiarism and resolve major
issues related to the concept. 3) Classify the major steps involved in conducting a research study. 4)
Analyze the components of quantitative and qualitative manuscripts. 5) Critically evaluate published
manuscripts and dissertations to determine a source’s credibility. 6) Formulate an educational research
topic and problem.
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By the end of the course, the student will be able to:
1. Demonstrate an understanding of basic ethical considerations in a research investigation.
2. Evaluate works for plagiarism and resolve major issues related to the concept.
3. Identify and appraise the major components of the scientific method.
4. Analyze the components of quantitative and qualitative reports.
5. Critically evaluate published manuscripts and dissertations to determine the source’s credibility.
6. Identify a research topic and formulate a research problem.
VI. Materials and Resources
Book Url: NSU Book Store
Course Required Texts and Materials:
Locke, L. F., Silverman, S. J., & Spirduso, W. W. (2010). Reading and understanding research (3rd
ed.). Sage.
American Psychological Association. (2020). Publication Manual of the American
Psychological Association (7th ed).
(REQUIRED MATERIALS PROVIDED FOR YOU)
*McGregor, S. L.T. (2018). Understanding and Evaluating Research: A Critical Guide. Sage.
https://sherman.library.nova.edu/auth/index.php?aid=1407&url=http://dx.doi.org/10.4135/9781071802656
(*Do NOT purchase McGregor (2018). Available FREE as an e-book in the Alvin Sherman
Library.)
RES 8100 LibGuide https://nsufl.libguides.com/RES8100
Course Supplemental Materials:
none
VII. Course Requirements
1. ALL synchronous sessions in this course are compulsory, including the Introductory Library Skills
session, and the Academic Writing and the WCC (Writing and Communication Center)
session. Synchronous sessions conducted via Zoom are recorded, and recordings are made available
in the Canvas course. If students miss a session, they are required to listen to the recording and
submit a 2-page summary including questions for clarification, to the instructor within TWO days of
the synchronous session to receive full participation credit.
2. Use academic writing in ALL assignments and discussion posts, citing scholarly sources and using
the APA referencing system (7th edition) for format and style.
3. Use the email within Canvas to communicate with the Instructor. Respond in a timely manner (within
2 days) to any communication from the Instructor.
VIII. Course Schedule and Topic Outline
Course Schedule:
Unit 1: The Nature and Use of the Research Report
Module
Topic
Readings/Activities/Assignments
1
The Research
Read: Locke et al., Chapter 1; McGregor, Chapter 1
Report
Complete: (a) Brief Bio DUE (please post on the Discussion
Board), (b) Familiarize yourself with the Canvas course,
textbooks, syllabus, and class expectations
(c) Add an Avatar (photo) to your Canvas Account,
Participate: Zoom #1
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Page 2 of 13
2
The Sources of
Credibility
3
Selecting and
Reading Research
Reports
4
Use, Misuse, and
Misunderstanding of
Research
5
Types of Research
Read: Locke et al., Chapter 2; Academic Honesty: An
Unending Conversation
Watch: Plagiarism: Avoid Academic Theft for Research Succes
s
Complete: Discussion 1: Plagiarism; Test Your Knowledge on
Plagiarism
Participate: Introductory Library Presentation
Read: Locke et al., Chapter 3
Watch: How do you recognize a research article?
Participate: Zoom #2
Participate: Academic Writing Presentation
Read: Locke et al., Chapter 4;
Watch: The scientific method
The CRAAP Test
Complete: Discussion 2: Bad Science
Read: Locke et al., Chapter 5
Watch: How do you recognize a research article?
Complete: Assignment 1: The Nature of Knowing – The
Scientific Method (Use additional resources in the RES 8100 L
ibGuide)
Unit 2: Quantitative Methods
Module
Topic
6
Quantitative
Research Designs
Readings/Activities/Assignments
Read: Locke et al., Chapter 6;
McGregor; Chapter 10; pp 255-273
Participate: Zoom #3 (Pre-reading: Stoet & Geary (2018) htt
ps://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/095679761774171
9
7
Reading Quantitative Read: Locke et al., Chapter 7;
Research Reports
Watch: How to Read and Comprehend Scientific Articles
Complete: Discussion 3: Types of quantitative research (Use
additional resources in the RES 8100 LibGuide)
8
Explaining Research Read: Locke et al., Chapter 8 & Appendix B: Statistics – A
Beginner’s Guide
Complete: Discussion 4: Interpreting quantitative research
9
Critically Reading
Read: Locke et al., Chapter 9;
Quantitative
Complete: Assignment 2
Research Reports
Unit 3: Qualitative Methods
Module
Topic
Readings/Activities/Assignments
10
Qualitative Research Read: Locke et al., Chapter10;
Designs
Watch: Overview of Qualitative Research Methods
When should a researcher choose a qualitative approach?
Participate: Zoom #4
11
Reading Qualitative Read: Locke et al., Chapter 11;
Research Reports
Complete: Discussion 5: Interpreting paradigms of qualitative
research
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12
Critically Reading
Read: Locke et al., Chapter 12;
Qualitative Research Complete: Assignment 3
Reports
Unit 4: First Step in the Scientific Process – Problem Statement
Module
Topic
Readings/Activities/Assignments
13
Identifying a
Read: McGregor, Chapter 6;
Research Problem/ Participate: Zoom #5
Need
14
The Research
Report in other
Forms
15
Ethical and Legal
Issues in Research
Read: Selected applied dissertations and strategic research
project reports
Complete: Exercise 6: Comparing the EdD Capstones to a
Research Report
Read: McGregor, p. 242-242 p. 269-270
Watch: Ethical and Legal Issues in Research
Research Ethics
Social Media Research and Ethics
Complete: Assignment 4
IX. Assignments
ASSIGNMENTS and GRADING CRITERIA
A. Written Assignments Every assignment must include the FCE title page. Please consult the FCE Standard Format for
Written Assignments for additional formatting requirements for assignments. Please note that you need to use APA 7th edition. For
assistance with finding resources and other library assistance, you can contact a librarian at http://lib.nova.edu/ask
Assignment 1 The Nature of Knowing: The Scientific Method
This assignment has five parts: (a) Components of Research, (b) Sources of Information, (c) Use and Misuse of information, (d)
Established Tools of Measurement, and (e) Types of Research.
Components of Research: Identify the major components of the scientific method and relate them to writing a research report.
Then briefly discuss the concept of “how we know” through the application of the scientific method.
Sources of Information: Distinguish between primary and secondary sources and discuss the concept of “suspending trust” in a
research report.
The Use and Misuse of Information: Identify and discuss a published research study that was widely accepted and then found to
be a misuse of data or inaccurate.
Established Tools for Measurement: Identify and discuss the use of ONE established tool or assessment.
Types of Research: Distinguish between the two main research paradigms.
See Appendix A in the syllabus for the Grading Rubric.
Your paper should be about 3-4 pages (excluding the title and references pages) and written clearly and succinctly to demonstrate
your understanding of these basic research terms and concepts. Remember to cite scholarly and/or credible references and adhere to
the APA referencing style and format.
Assignment 2 Dissecting a Quantitative Research Report
Select a current(within the last five years) quantitative research report from a peer-reviewed journal in your area of interest.
(a) In general, discuss the purpose of the FOUR main sections in a research report, the Introduction, Methods, Results, and
Discussion.
(b) Dissect your quantitative report to identify and annotate (include page number/s) each of these sub-components:
– problem addressed in the study (research problem)
– the theoretical framework,
– research questions,
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– the population and sample,
– tools used for measurement (data collection tools),
– the research design and research procedures (steps in conducting the study),
– statistical tests used in data analysis,
– the findings, and
– any limitations of this study.
(c) Finally, reflect on how this research report helps you in thinking about a potential research problem for your capstone project.
See Appendix B in the syllabus for the Grading Rubric.
Your paper should be between 5 – 6 pages, excluding the title and reference pages, and adhere to the APA referencing style and
format.
Assignment 3 Dissecting a Qualitative Research Report
For this assignment, identify a current (within the last five years) qualitative research report from a peer-reviewed journal in your
area of interest. Then, dissect the report according to the FOUR sections below, using the guidelines given.
Introduction
Problem Statement: Identify the background/rationale and research problem for the study.
Theory: Identify the theory in which the researcher(s) grounded the study and describe the major research findings that support
the theory. Next, list the research questions or aims.
Method
Participants: Identify the population of interest and describe the sample of participants in the study.
Data Collection Tools: Identify the data collection tools or strategies and describe how these were used to collect data.
Design: Identify and briefly describe the qualitative research design that was used. Provide a rationale why this design was the
most appropriate (Hint: connect the design to the purpose of the study or research questions)
Procedures: Briefly describe how the data were collected.
Results
Data Analysis: Describe how the data were analyzed (Hint: connect the method of data analysis to the research design used)
Findings: State the findings of the study
Discussion
Significance of the study: Describe how the findings of the study are discussed in relation to the prior research presented in the
literature review or has led to a new grounded theory.
Ethical Considerations: Briefly discuss any ethical or field issues considered when collecting the data.
Finally, reflect on how this research report helps you in thinking about a potential research problem for your capstone project.
See Appendix C in the syllabus for the Grading Rubric.
Your paper should be between 5 – 6 pages, excluding the title and reference pages, and adhere to the APA referencing style and
format.
Assignment 4: Identifying a Research Problem
A required component of this doctoral program is a capstone project which can be an applied dissertation (AD) or a strategic
research project (SRP). You received information about these options in the session earlier this term, on Understanding the
Doctoral Capstones: The AD and the SRP. Later, in Exercise 6, you reviewed examples of the products by students who
completed the AD or the SRP.
In this assignment, you will apply the knowledge and skills you’ve acquired in your first research course to begin to think about
the capstone project that would be suitable for you and justify this choice.
The first step in the scientific method is to identify a viable research problem or need. Hence, begin by identifying a problem
(or need) in your workplace or area of interest. For this assignment, please do the following:
a) Identify the capstone that is suitable for you and provide your rationale. Feel free to review the recording of the AD and SRP
session, reflect on your career aspirations (short term and long term), as well as reach out to your advisor.
b) Identify a research problem/ need,
c) present some background on it (prior research that has been conducted) on the problem or need),
c) discuss the feasibility of developing this problem into your capstone project, and
d) identify the individuals who would most benefit from this.
The paper should be between 4 – 5 pages, excluding the title and reference pages, and adhere to APA style and format.
Grading rubric (see Appendix D in the syllabus)
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For additional assistance with assignments, please visit RES 8100 Library Research Guide at: https://nsufl.libguides.com/res8100
B. Discussion Posts
Active, thoughtful participation in online discussions (via discussion posts) is evidence of student engagement with the
course materials and their online learning community. Students will be expected to participate in online asynchronous discussions
via the Canvas Discussion Board. There are six Discussions to be completed in this course– each worth 2.5 points. The student
will provide three entries for each Discussion. The first is the original post in response to the Discussion question. The original
post is due on Friday. Then students will read the posts of their classmates and respond to two of them. This is due by Sunday.
The original post and responses need to be substantive, showing evidence of having done the readings and other activities
scheduled that week. Students are advised to relate the knowledge acquired to the workplace, share examples of the application of
knowledge, build on the posts of others, or ask questions to further the discussion (do not respond just to say you liked it, or it
was great!). All original posts must be completed in a timely manner and supported by relevant sources that are properly
cited according to the APA referencing system (7th edition). Posts must be clearly written and checked for language errors prior to
posting.
Grading Rubric for Exercises (Discussion Posts)
With the above criteria in mind, scores for each online discussion will be assigned as follows:
2.5 points
1.5 – 2.0
0.5-1.0
0
Meets all criteria
Meet most of the criteria
Meets a few of the criteria
Does not meet any criteria
See the calendar in Canvas for due dates of Assignments and Exercises.
X. Grading Criteria
Final Course Grade:
Assignment/Activity
Assignment 1
Assignment 2
Assignment 3
Assignment 4
Exercises (Discussion
posts) 6 x 2.5
Participation in
synchronous sessions
Total
Points
20
20
20
20
15
%
20
20
20
20
15
5
5
100
100
EdD Grading Scale
Letter Percentage Quality
Grade
Points
Generated: 5/25/2022
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A
90-100
4.0
B
80-89
3.0
C
70-79
2.0
F
Below 70
0.0
As of August 19, 2019
XI. Course Policies
Synchronous Chats
The synchronous sessions will take place face-to-face and online for blended classes. Online synchronous chats will
take place via Zoom. For the purpose of Zoom sessions, it will be the responsibility of each student to make sure
his or her computer is equipped to participate fully. Students are required to use the audio and video in
synchronous class meetings. Please contact the Shark IT Service Center at https://www.nova.edu/help/index.html
for technical assistance or call 954-262-HELP (4357) or 1-800-541-6682, ext. 24357. It is generally advisable for
students to have various web browsers (e.g., Explorer, Firefox, Google Chrome, Safari) downloaded to their
computer as some programs may have compatibility issues. Students should consult the Hardware Guidelines for
Computing at NSU https://www.nova.edu/publications/it-standards/
XII. University Policies
A. Academic Misconduct
The University, as a community of scholars, embraces the free expression of ideas in furthering the
acquisition of knowledge, while upholding the principles of trust, responsibility, honor, integrity, and ethical
behavior in meeting program and degree requirements. As such, students are expected to adhere to a
standard of academic honesty in all work submitted. Violations of academic honesty standards constitute
academic misconduct, and violate the NSU Code of Student Conduct and Academic Responsibility,
available online http://education.nova.edu/students/current-students/studentcataloghandbook.html.
The following acts violate the academic honesty standards and will result in a finding of academic
misconduct:
1. Cheating in any form: intentionally using or attempting to use unauthorized materials, information, or
study aids in any academic exercise, or having others complete work or exams and representing it as one’s
own.
2. Fabrication: intentional and unauthorized falsification or invention of any information or citation in an
academic exercise.
3. Facilitating academic dishonesty: intentionally or knowingly helping or attempting to help another to
violate any provision of this code.
4. Plagiarism: the adoption or reproduction of ideas, words, or statements of another person as one’s own
without proper acknowledgment (see Academic Honesty Standards).
5. Conspiracy to commit academic dishonesty: assisting others to commit acts of academic
misconduct
6. Misrepresentation: intentionally making false statements or omissions of facts in a contract. Examples
include, but are not limited to portfolios, cover sheets, and clinic, training station, and practicum
agreements.
7. Bribery: offering of goods, services, property, or money in an attempt to gain an academic advantage.
8. Forging or altering documents or credentials: examples include, but are not limited to signatures,
dates, and other information on portfolios, cover sheets, and clinic, training station, and practicum
agreements.
9. Knowingly furnishing false information to the institution.
Penalties for academic misconduct can range from reduced grades on assignments or in courses, to failing
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grades on assignments or in courses, as determined by the course professor. Academic misconduct may
also result in dismissal from the Abraham S. Fischler College of Education and School of Criminal Justice
without the possibility of re-enrolling at any time. Students may not withdraw from a course in progress to
avoid a failing grade upon receiving notice that academic misconduct may have occurred.
Note: If a charge of academic misconduct is determined in a course, any student-initiated
withdrawal for that course will be administratively reversed and a grade of F will be entered on
the student’s transcript for that course.
B. Plagiarism
Work that is submitted for credit must be the original work of the student. Any assignment that is not the
original work of the student is considered plagiarized and in violation of the Code of Student Conduct and
Academic Responsibility. Plagiarism occurs when another person’s work, words, or ideas are represented
as one’s own without the use of a school-recognized method of citation (e.g., copied from another source
such as an author or another student without properly acknowledging the actual writer/author) or when
another person’s work is copied or otherwise duplicated for academic credit. Plagiarism also occurs when
knowingly giving or allowing one’s own work to be copied or otherwise duplicated by another for academic
credit, or when resubmitting one’s own work for academic credit (i.e., work that has previously been
submitted for academic credit). Cutting and pasting from online sources on the Internet without proper
acknowledgment and citation of primary and secondary sources (e.g., writers/authors/organizations) also
constitutes plagiarism.
Penalties for plagiarism may range from reduced grades on assignments or in courses, to failing grades on
assignments or in courses, as determined by the course professor. A subsequent determination of
plagiarism in a future course (i.e., a second violation) may result in dismissal from the Abraham S. Fischler
College of Education and School of Criminal Justice without the possibility of re-enrolling at any time.
Course assignments submitted in partial fulfillment of degree requirements may be checked for plagiarism.
Students may not withdraw from a course in progress to avoid a failing grade or other consequence
upon receiving notice that plagiarism may have occurred. If a charge of plagiarism is determined in a
course, any student-initiated course withdrawal for that course will be administratively reversed and a
grade of F will be entered on the student’s transcript for that course [see Academic Misconduct]. Student
access to online courses, and attendance at site-based courses, will be discontinued following a
determination of plagiarism that results in an “F” for the course. All students are entitled to due
process pursuant to Fischler College of Education policies and procedures.
C. Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
Nova Southeastern University complies with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the
Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990. No qualified individual with a disability shall be excluded
from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination in any activity, service, or
program of the university solely by reason of his or her disability. Each qualified individual with a disability
who meets the academic and technical standards required to enroll in and participate in Nova Southeastern
University’s programs shall be provided with equal access to educational programs in the most integrated
setting appropriate to that person’s needs through reasonable accommodation.
At the postsecondary level, it is the student’s responsibility to initiate the process for disability services. The
process for obtaining a reasonable accommodation is an interactive one that begins with the student’s
disclosure of disability and a request for a reasonable accommodation. The student has the responsibility to
provide Nova Southeastern University with proper documentation of a disability from a qualified physician
or clinician who diagnoses disabilities and sets forth the recommended accommodations.
The necessary forms and procedures for requesting disability-related accommodations can be obtained
from the NSU Office of Student Disability Services through its website at
http://www.nova.edu/disabilityservices/index.html, via e-mail at disabilityservices@nova.edu, or by calling
954-262-7185 (toll-free at 800-986-3223, ext. 27185).
To ensure that reasonable accommodations can be provided in a timely manner, all forms and
documentation should be submitted to the NSU Office of Student Disability Services a minimum of four
(4) weeks prior to the commencement of classes for any given semester.
D. Course/Instructor Evaluation
It is expected that all students will participate in the online Course/Instructor Evaluation at or near
the end of the course.
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Notices of Course/Instructor Evaluation access are sent to registered students by NSU email.
E. The current edition of the FCE&SCJ Catalog and Student Handbook is available
http://education.nova.edu/students/current-students/studentcataloghandbook.html. This document provides
extensive information on University and FCE policies, regulations, and procedures.
NSU Class Recording Policy:
Class content throughout this course may be recorded in accordance with the NSU Class Recording
Policy. If class content is recorded, these recordings will be made available to students registered for this
course as a supplement to the classroom experience. Recordings will be made available to all students who
were registered to attend the live offering of the class, regardless of a student’s section or discipline, or
whether the student is participating in the course online. If recordings are intended to be accessible to
students or third parties who were not registered for the live offering of the class, students’ personally
identifiable information will be removed or redacted from the recording, unless (1) their written consent to
such disclosure was previously provided, or (2) the disclosure is permissible in accordance with the Family
Educational Rights and Privacy Act (“FERPA”).
Students are prohibited from recording audio or video, or taking photographs in classrooms (including online
classes) without prior permission from the instructor or pursuant to an approved disability accommodation,
and from reproducing, sharing, or disseminating classroom recordings to individuals outside of this course.
Students found engaging in such conduct will be in breach of the Student Code of Conduct and subject to
disciplinary action.
XIII. Appendix/Appendices
Appendix A
Assignment 1 – The Nature of Knowing: The Scientific Method (20 points)
Grading Rubric
Element
Components
of Research
(5 points)
Generated: 5/25/2022
Met
The student
correctly identifies
the major
components of the
scientific method,
relates it
appropriately to
the development
of a research
report, and
provides a
detailed
explanation of
“how we know”
through the
application of the
scientific method.
Partially Met
The student identifies most of the
components of the scientific
method, relates it to the
development of a research report,
and provides an explanation of
“how we know,” but sufficient
details are lacking.
Not Met
The student fails to
identify the
components of the
scientific method, relate
it to the development
of a research report,
and/or provide an
explanation of “how
we know.”
Page 9 of 13
Sources of
Information
(3 points)
The student
clearly
distinguishes
between primary
and secondary
sources using
appropriate
examples and
provides an
appropriate
discussion of the
concept of
“suspending
trust.”
The student defines a primary and
secondary source, and the concept
of “suspending trust,” but sufficient
details are lacking.
The student fails to
define a primary and
secondary source,
provide examples,
discuss the concept of
“suspending trust,”
and/or provide
sufficient details.
Use and
Misuse of
Research
(5 points)
The student
appropriately
identifies and
discusses the
parameters
surrounding a
research study
that was
“misused” or
inaccurate.
Relevant citations
to support the
argument are
included.
The student
identifies an
appropriate
measurement
instrument and
adequately
discusses its use.
The student
distinguishes
among the two
main research
paradigms using
appropriate
examples and
accurately
describes a
quantitative or
qualitative
scenario.
The student identifies a research
study that was found to be
“misused” or inaccurate but lacks a
relevant discussion of the
parameters surrounding the
“misuse.” Relevant citations are
included.
The student fails to
identify an appropriate
research study, include
a relevant discussion,
or include supporting
citations.
The student identifies a
measurement instrument and states
its use.
The student fails to
identify a tool or
discuss its use.
The student defines the two
research paradigms using examples
and describes a scenario.
However, there is some
inconsistency in the examples,
definitions, or scenarios.
The student fails to
define the two research
paradigms, use
examples, or include a
scenario; and/or there
is inconsistency in the
discussion.
Established
Tools for
Research
(2 points)

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