The Influence of School Leadership on Classroom Participation: Examining Configurations of Organizational Supports
by James Sebastian, Elaine Allensworth & David Stevens — 2014
Background: In this paper we call for studying school leadership and its relationship to instruction and learning through approaches that highlight the role of configurations of multiple organizational supports. A configuration-focused approach to studying leadership and other essential supports provides a valuable addition to existing tools in school organizational analysis and is particularly useful in examining equifinality and causal asymmetry. Equifinality is the idea that more than one pathway can result in a desired outcome whereas causal asymmetry suggests that the set of conditions that lead to the presence of an outcome need not be the same as the conditions that lead to its absence.
Focus of Study: This study uses a configurational approach to examine how school leadership and other organizational supports are related to an important aspect of instruction—students’ classroom participation.
Research Design: We apply fuzzy set qualitative comparative analysis (QCA) to administrative and survey data of high schools from a large urban school district to examine combinations of organizational supports that are associated with classroom participation.
Conclusions: The study draws attention to the utility of applying configurational approaches to investigate the influence of complex combinations of organizational supports on school outcomes. We compare this approach to more traditional methods that focus on the effects of isolated factors, controlling for each other. Our results show that leadership is associated with students’ classroom participation via multiple configurations of organizational supports. These configurations are different from the set of organizational supports that are related to an absence of classroom participation.
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