The use of cases in the leadership development of principals: A recent initiative in one large education system in Australia
Cranston, NC, The use of cases in the leadership development of principals: A recent initiative in one large education system in Australia, Journal of Educational Administration, 46, (5) pp. 581-597. ISSN 0957-8234 (2008) [Refereed Article]
Purpose – This paper aims to document the development and use of cases for the leadership development of principals in one large education system in Australia. The case initiative was specially targeted at deepening understandings of the department's recently released statement about the principalship, Leadership Matters. The theoretical underpinnings of cases and their use in leadership development are examined. A discussion of critical feedback from users is provided with commentary on future developments completing the paper.
Design/methodology/approach – The literature relevant to cases and their use (and related approaches such as problem-based learning) is reviewed, providing the framework for the development of the cases themselves and the principles guiding their application via a series of workshops. A small-scale evaluation study accompanying the workshops provides critical feedback from principals and principals' supervisors on the efficacy of the cases themselves and the case method.
Findings – The cases have been very well received in the workshops. It is clear the cases represent powerful and authentic ways for leadership developments among school leaders, with considerable potential to focus on supporting understandings of, and development with respect to Leadership Matters. Some of the reported positives of the cases are that they are grounded in authentic "real world" stories of challenges for principals and that the discussions at the workshops lead to creative and constructive discussions about such leadership challenges.
Practical implications – The paper provides a number of practical suggestions for take-up by others interested in the leadership development of principals in these challenging and changing times for school leaders. Ideas how to develop and construct cases are provided, together with suggestions for application in workshop situations.
Originality/value – While cases have been used in school leadership development previously, the focus here is a specially constructed developmental process framed around a system's statement about the principalship, Leadership Matters.
Australia, case studies, education, leadership, management development, principals