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Exploring a conceptual framework to understand howprincipals balance the partly contradictory tasks of evaluating and supporting newly qualified teachers
University of Gävle, Faculty of Education and Business Studies, Department of Educational sciences, Educational science. (IT i Lärande)ORCID iD: 0000-0002-5592-2964
University of Gävle, Faculty of Education and Business Studies, Department of Educational sciences, Educational science. (Induction-gruppen)ORCID iD: 0000-0002-1871-4488
(Induction-gruppen)
2017 (English)Conference paper, Oral presentation only (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

In many countries it is argued that the “quality of teachers” is the most important school-related factor in pupils’ learning (Hattie, 2009; 2012). Teacher quality has become a key argument for teachers’ professional development. When it comes to newly qualified teachers (NQTs), in many countries the call for “teacher quality” has either led to reforms that support NQTs or reforms requiring an evaluation of their competence. In some countries these approaches are combined, with induction systems and mentoring that support NQTs and an evaluation of their skills to ensure quality. However, some research suggests that if the same person performs both roles it is more difficult to create and maintain a relationship based on confidence, openness and mutual trust that promotes risk-free learning (Author 1, 201*, Jones 2009). In some countries or states mentors perform both these roles (cf. Yusko & Feiman Nemser, 2008), whereas in others these two roles are separated so that mentors support and principals evaluate.

The latter kind of system was introduced in Sweden in 2011, with mentors supporting NQTs and principals performing the evaluation (Government Bill, 2010/11). However, previous research shows that when the Swedish principals performed the assessment they also supported the NQTs (Author 1, Author 2, Author 3, 201*) in that they partly applied an instructional leadership (cf. REF) and gave post-observation feedback. However, being both an evaluator and supervisor can be challenging. For instance, Hinchey (2010) claims that teachers only improve their practice in relatively non-threatening contexts and that the assessment may challenge this (cf. Author 1, 201*; Range, Young & Hvidstone, 2013).

A review of the research literature reveals that there is an urgent need for theoretical development in order to understand how principals enact and balance their roles as evaluators of NQTs and pedagogical leaders. In responding to this call, the purpose of the paper is: (a) to elaborate and discuss a conceptual framework that captures how principals enact and balance their roles as evaluators and pedagogical leaders in the context of evaluating NQTs and (b) to exemplify how data can be related to the framework.

Theoretical framework

The emphasis on and combination of supportive and evaluative dimensions are contained in the framework of a four-way table that includes “formal and structured evaluation” vs. “informal evaluation” and  “strong instructional leadership” vs. “weak instructional leadership”.

The evaluation dimension is defined as the extent to which evaluations are scheduled, planned, directed by guiding formulae, how the different issues of the national standards are focused, time spent on the evaluation, the structure and focus of the follow-up discussions etc.   

The instructional dimension is defined as how and how much guidance is given and how the NQTs professional development are facilitated. Here the focus is on guidance and feedback that contribute to developing the instructional skills or pedagogical thinking of the NQT. Positive feedback relates to the content included in the table. Positive feedback in a general sense, without connection to instruction, thinking or a situation, is not included. For instance, positive feedback heard in the corridor, such as: ‘colleagues say you perform well’, is not included in this dimension. Guidance can be absent or present, more or less extensive, or constructive and detailed.

Methods/methodology

The framework is developed by reviewing the research literature in the areas of teacher induction (cf. (Hobson, Ashby, Malderez, & Tomlinson, 2009), evaluation of NQTs (cf. Yusko & Feiman Nemser, 2008) and principals’ instructional leadership (cf. Neumerski, 2013; LaPointe Terosky, 2016). Most of the literature relating to principals’ instructional leadership focuses on teachers in general and not specifically NQTs (cf. Tuytens & Devos, 2017), but is nevertheless valuable.

Drawing on and combining supportive and evaluative dimensions result in a four-way table framework with the following axes:  “formal and structured evaluation” vs. “informal evaluation” and “strong instructional leadership” vs. “weak instructional leadership”.

This framework is then used in explorative analyses of data from a longitudinal research project in which five principals conducting a formal evaluation of NQTs are followed in the year of the evaluation. These five principals are regarded as cases. The NQTs being evaluated teach Years 4-6.

Each principal is interviewed at least twice during the year (in total between 73-158 minutes), which forms the main data for the analysis. The interviews and analysis explore principals’ self-reported information regarding their strategies to enact and balance their role as evaluators and the support they provide. Using the software NVivo, codes are created based on content analysis (Miles, Huberman & Saldaña, 2014).

Self-reported data needs to be looked at critically (Podsakoff, MacKenzie, Lee, & Podsakoff, 2003). To validate this kind of data: (i) observations and recordings of post-observation conversations (tot. 72 minutes) are performed with two of the principals (A and C) and their NQTs, (ii) joint interviews are conducted with three principals (A, C and E) and their NQTs (in total 130 minutes) and (iii) observations of three of the principals’ observations (B, C, D) are carried out. A coherent design of these validating strategies is not possible due to ethical and practical reasons. Three of the NQTs did not feel comfortable with the participation of an external researcher during the observations and/or post-observation conversations. Some of the planned observations were cancelled due to illness, the unavailability of the informant or were performed ad hoc and informally and were not observed or recorded.

Expected outcomes/results

Positioning the principals in the framework of the four-way table with the axes “formal and structured evaluation” vs. “informal evaluation” and “strong instructional leadership” vs. “weak instructional leadership” enables their actions to be positioned differently. Four out of the five teachers are positioned more towards “strong instructional leadership” and “formal and structured evaluation”, albeit with different emphases on the two dimensions. The fifth principal (E) is positioned more towards “informal evaluation” and “weak instructional leadership”. This principal describes his/her leadership as ‘leadership on the run’.

The overall conclusion is that the theoretical framework enables principals to be positioned according to how their evaluative and supportive roles vary. Also, the quality of the data, for instance with regard to quantity, focus on relevant issues and different kinds of data (e.g. self-reported narratives, narratives from other actors such as NQTs, and first-hand information from the researchers’ direct observations) gives a much more informed analysis of the positioning in the framework. However, in this small-scale study, the different kinds of data do not contradict each other, but strengthen the conclusions and the positioning.

Thus, the framework facilitates an understanding of how principals facilitate NQTs professional development in a context in which evaluative and supportive dimensions are applied. The framework could also be used to analyse how mentors balance the supportive and evaluative dimensions.

References

Author 1 (201*). [details removed for peer review]. Article published in international peer-reviewed journal.

Author 1, Author 2 & Author 3 (201*). [details removed for peer review]. Paper presented at an International Annual Conference.

Government bill 2010/11:20 Legitimation för lärare och förskollärare [Registration for Teachers and Pre-School Teachers]. The Swedish Government.

 Hattie, J. 2009. Visible learning: a synthesis of over 800 meta-analyses relating to achievement. London: New York: Routledge.

Hattie, J. (2012). Visible learning for teachers: maximizing impact on learning. London: Routledge.

Hinchey, P.H. (2010). Getting teacher assessment right: What policymakers can learn from research. Boulder, CO: National Education Policy Center.

Hobson, A. J., Ashby, P., Malderez, A., & Tomlinson, P. D. (2009). Mentoring beginning teachers: what we know and what we don't. Teaching and Teacher Education, 25(1), 207-216.

Jones, M. (2009). Supporting the supporters of novice teachers: An analysis of mentors’ needs from twelve European countries presented from an English perspective. Research in Comparative and International Education 4, no. 1: 4–21.

LaPointe Terosky, A. (2016): Enacting instructional leadership: perspectives and actions of public K-12 principals, School Leadership & Management,

Miles, M.B., Huberman, A.M. & Saldaña, J. (2014). Qualitative data analysis: a methods sourcebook. (3. ed.) Los Angeles: Sage.

Neumerski, C. M. (2013). Rethinking Instructional Leadership: A Review of What Do We Know About Principal, Teacher, and Coach Instructional Leadership, and Where Should We Go from Here? Educational Administration Quarterly 49 (2): 310–347.

Podsakoff, P. M., MacKenzie, S. B., Lee, J.-Y., & Podsakoff, N. P. (2003). Common method biases in behavioral research: A critical review of the literature and recommended remedies. Journal of Applied Psychology, 88, 879–903. 

Range, B. G., Young, S. & Hvidston, D. (2013) Teacher perceptions about observation conferences: what do teachers think about their formative supervision in one US school district?, School Leadership & Management, 33:1, 61-77.

Tuytens, M. & Devos, G. (2017) The role of feedback from the school

leader during teacher evaluation for teacher and school improvement, Teachers and Teaching, 23:1, 6-24,

Yusko, B., & Feiman Nemser. S. (2008). Embracing contraries: Combining assistance and assessment in new teacher induction. Teacher College Record 110, no. 5: 923–53.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2017.
National Category
Didactics
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:hig:diva-25228OAI: oai:DiVA.org:hig-25228DiVA: diva2:1141062
Conference
The European Conference on Educational Research (ECER2017), 22-25 August 2017, Copenhagen, Denmark
Projects
RAOL-projektet (Rektors arbete och lämplighetsprövning av ny lärare)
Funder
AFA Insurance, 120292
Available from: 2017-09-13 Created: 2017-09-13 Last updated: 2017-09-21Bibliographically approved

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