Instructional Leadership in Singapore and East Asia

Project Number
OER 28/12 DN

Project Duration
January 2013 - September 2016


Instructional Leadership in Singapore and East Asia Over the past decade, policymakers in Singapore and East Asia have implemented new policies and programs aimed at increasing the capacity for leadership in schools (Cheng & Walker, 2008; Hallinger, 2011; Walker & Kwan, 2008). The rationale for overhauling school management systems (e.g., school based management, quality systems, accountability structures) and developing new approaches to the recruitment, selection, training, and evaluation of school leaders is based upon an increasingly substantial empirical knowledge base concerning the contributions that instructional leadership makes to school performance (Hallinger & Heck, 1996; Leithwood et al., 2006; Robinson et al., 2008). NIE's ongoing research project, Leadership for Organizational Change, has yielded preliminary findings on Instructional Leadership through a quantitative survey. The findings will need further triangulation through in-depth qualitative study. At the same time, scholars have noted that this knowledge base consists largely of theory and empirical research from Western cultural contexts (Cheng, 1995; Hallinger, 1995, in press; Hallinger & Leithwood, 1998; Hallinger et al., 2005; Walker & Dimmock, 2002). This limitation of the knowledge base on school leadership in Singapore and East Asia represents the focus of this project. The proposed research project seeks to contribute to the development of the knowledge base on principal instructional leadership in seven East Asian societies: Singapore, Hong Kong, Mainland China, Vietnam, Malaysia, Taiwan, and Thailand. The fund would support data collection in Singapore and will contribute to the synthesis of data collected by teams of researchers in all seven countries The research will be conducted in three overlapping stages using methods designed to explore how principals enact instructional leadership from 'indigenous perspectives' (Bajunid, 1996). That is, we begin with a very broad framework derived from prior research (see Section 2), but without a functional definition of the role or its composite practices. The stages of the research process consist of: - Literature reviews in Singapore (and within each of the six countries by co-researchers), - A qualitative research design that employs open-ended and semi-structured interviews with a sample of 30 primary school principals in Singapore, - Case studies that employ intensive observations, event sampling of leadership practices, and reflective interviews with a sample of 5 primary school principals in Singapore. These methods will enable us to generate propositions about how instructional leadership is exercised within Singapore and will contribute to the knowledge base on Instructional Leadership across the other six countries in East Asia. Thus, the project will refine the existing knowledge base concerning a key facet of school leadership and lay the foundation for contextualized, large-scale quantitative studies in the future.

Research Themes
Leadership & School Organisation

Funding Source

Related Links
ReEd Vol 10 (2013): Instructional Leadership in East Asia
NIE Research Briefs No. 16-012: Instructional Leadership in Singapore and East Asia

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