Connectedness and organisational learning: The role of relationships in supporting headteacher professional development

Addae-Kyeremeh, Eric (2017). Connectedness and organisational learning: The role of relationships in supporting headteacher professional development. In: British Educational Leadership Management and Administration Society (BELMAS) Annual Conference, 7-9 Jul 2017, Stratford-upon-Avon, UK.

Abstract

This is a mixed-methods study of headteacher professional networks in a municipal area in Ghana. Through network ethnography, which is a systematic combination of ethnography and a network survey method (Howard, 2002), the study examined the extent to which headteachers believe ties in their professional network contributed to their learning and development as school leaders.

Whilst ethnography offers a framework for in-depth study of a group of people, in this study it is complimented with a social network survey method to study a bounded population of headteachers by looking at the properties of the network relations and the effects these properties may have on the phenomena of interest- in this case the diffusion of professional knowledge and advice. The line of inquiry is situated in the network theory domain (Borgatti and Ofem, 2010) and seek to explain various outcomes as a function of network properties.

Drawing on the notion of social capital as well as organisational learning and the diffusion of innovation the paper discusses how information such as ideas on how to help ineffective teachers, ideas on how to improve teaching and learning, ideas about curriculum design, and ideas about tackling discipline is shared in the headteacher network. The evidence revealed a dense network structure suggesting that it will be easy for good leadership practice to be disseminated across the network. The number of cliques available for specific types of information also suggest that targeted leadership training can have some effect when carefully planned albeit informally.

While the study involves only one municipal educational circuit (comprising 17 headteachers) it clearly demonstrates the important role that social network analysis has in helping us understand how information and ideas flow between informal headteacher networks. This is important to the Ghana Education Service as they look for new ways of developing and supporting headteachers. It provides the much needed understanding and mechanisms of how to facilitate organisational learning through headteacher networks.

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