Exploring the Contribution of Informal Learning to the Professional Development of School Leaders in Cyprus

Sofocleous, Andros Kyriakou (2016). Exploring the Contribution of Informal Learning to the Professional Development of School Leaders in Cyprus. EdD thesis The Open University.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.21954/ou.ro.0000ef8b

Abstract

This thesis explores the contributions of informal learning to the professional development of secondary school leaders in Cyprus. The research questions focus on the ways school leaders learn to lead, the contributions of informal learning to their professional development and the ways informal learning could be incorporated into a holistic professional development programme for school leaders. The study uses an expanded Exploratory Sequential Mixed Methods Design, in which priority is given to the qualitative aspect of the study (Creswell and Plano Clark, 2011). First, interviews with educators with multiple leadership roles were implemented, followed by a survey using a questionnaire developed from the qualitative phase. After this, a new qualitative phase employing interviews with experienced headteachers was used as an evaluation stage, to confirm or not the findings from the previous phases. The main findings reveal the ways in which secondary school leaders in Cyprus learn how to lead, namely through reflection, through a socialisation process, by sharing examples of good practice, by using informal apprenticeships, through incidental learning and through self-directed learning. Informal learning seems to facilitate the development of professional identity and school leaders’ qualities/characteristics to address successfully the complexities of headship. Moreover, this research study provides a discussion regarding the importance of the degree of formality in structuring learning processes, employing The Formality-Informality Model, and proposes a Blended-Learning Model for the Professional Development of School Leaders, which can guide the construction of a relevant professional development programme. This study further suggests that fostering a school leaders’ community of practice (Wenger, 1998) could be a starting point for enhancing a leadership culture throughout the Cyprus Educational System. Finally, a New Leadership Professional Development Framework for School Leaders in Cyprus is proposed, which can facilitate the holistic professional development of secondary school leaders in Cyprus.

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