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The nature or purpose of the research
The article under consideration is entitled “Nurturing Opportunities for Educational Leadership: How Affordance and Leadership Interconnect.” The article is based on the assumption that educational leaders can change the environment they work in as opposed to passively reacting to it. Consequently, the purpose of this article is to assess the leadership styles that educators can use to make their organizations sustainable.
The author actively operates with the term “affordance” as per the Gibson model, which is understood as an intuitive notion of an object and the means of using it; an affordance allows to estimate which particular characteristics of an object determine the modes of using it. Concerning leadership, affordance is the leaders’ understanding of their capabilities and the features of their organizations on the intuitive level and using this understanding for making the organizations sustainable. The research, therefore, is aimed at establishing what is the nature and the sources of the affordance attracting educators to lead and how the variety of leadership theories can be applied to practice.
Method of the research
The data collection and analysis are conducted qualitatively (Margolin, 2013, p. 81). A six-stage analysis includes assessing reports from the participant groups and developing common concepts, generating an idea of affordance that can be attributed to all groups, correlating the idea and distributed leadership theory, main theme analysis that determined similarities and differences, and interpretation of patterns for each theme.
The variables of the research
The researcher did not enlist the variables openly. On the other hand, one can estimate that the diversity of the leaders’ reported conceptions of leadership theories and their correlations with daily practices could be regarded as a dependent variable. The participants’ perception of affordances also diversified because they relied on what drew themselves to leadership when submitting their opinions; thus, another dependent variable can be established.
The research design
The study is designed as ethnographic research to give an account of leadership opportunities for educators (Margolin, 2013, p.81). The sample of the study consists of 48 representatives of four groups of teaching college graduates, teachers, educators, and mentors. All groups have taken part in a teacher education program at varying times (p. 80). The instruments are focus group discussions and semi-structured interviews recorded on tape and later analyzed. Data analysis is conducted as soon as separate portions of data are collected. A triangulation between the data sets (audiotape transcripts from professional group discussions, focus group discussions, and interviews) is conducted to enhance credibility.
The research questions
The research questions were formulated, mainly, what is the relationship between theoretical conceptions of leadership and daily practices and what are the affordances attracting educators to leadership (Margolin, 2013, p. 79).
The results of the study
The leadership types and affordances reported by all participants included collaborative teamwork as a practical means of experiencing teaching opportunities. In terms of the environment, the atmosphere of cooperative mutual teaching and learning was deemed effective. Four major components of collaborative teamwork were singled out: personal commitment and collaborative leadership, creating a space for teaching staff learning, developing new leaders on the institutional premises, and using a systematic holistic approach, i.e., not focusing solely on bureaucracy, but also on promoting values and encouraging distributed decision-making (Margolin, 2013, p. 82-85). In terms of affordances and sustainability, the new modes of leadership could be characterized by:
- Collective nature of leadership;
- Holism in reviewing the organizational structure;
- Responsibility in establishing a learning environment with sustainable practices;
- New leadership development opportunities and promotion of solid sustainable values (p. 87).
The study also established that the leaders on different levels of education system had different leading experiences; therefore, their conceptions of leadership, affordances, and practical implementations demonstrated a certain level of diversity primarily because they were based on diversified experiences. On the other hand, all leaders acknowledged the necessity to establish a single platform for communication between leaders on all levels of the education system; the necessity was mainly determined by diverse experiences. A team-based communication platform would create a unified concept base for further practical use of theoretical leadership models.
Recommendations offered by the researcher
The researcher focused on the implications of the study which can be summarized as follows. Firstly, the relationship between the educational leadership and affordances attracting people to leading and hinting at the possible ways of using their skills in the pursuit of change consists of the leaders’ coalescence into communities. Such coalescence would establish leadership cooperation on every level of the education system: local (with teacher college graduates and teaching staff involved), district (with principals and superintendents), and taught college-level (with teacher educators). The levels of the system would speak the same language and shared values, which would speed up the adoption of innovations.
The research limitations
The researcher did not state any limitations. On the other hand, some estimations can be made as to how the study is limited. Firstly, the sample size is rather small (n = 48), which might cause doubt upon the study’s credibility. Secondly, given that the study is ethnographic by design and is solely based on empirical evidence, it does not allow us to predict causality to any considerable extent.
Margolin, I. (2013). Nurturing Opportunities for Educational Leadership: How Affordance and Leadership Interconnect. Higher Education Studies, 3(3), 77-89. Web.