Summarize the attached article. It should be at least 750 words. Max similarity is 10 %.
Jeremy S. Peacock Science Instructional Leadership: The Role
of the Department Chair
With science teachers facing comprehensive curriculum reform that will
shape science education for decades to
come, high school department chairs
represent a critical resource for instructional leadership and teacher support.
While the historical literature on the department chair indicates that chairs are in
prime positions to provide instructional
leadership, it is also clear that chairs?
ability to provide such leadership is limited by lack of line authority, time, role
conflict, and ambiguity. Yet the literature
and practical experience indicates that
department chairs can exert a positive
and important influence on instruction
and learning within high school science
classrooms. Drawing on a historical review of the literature on high school department chairs and on recent literature
in science education and instructional
leadership, this article presents a conceptual model of science instructional
leadership for high school department
chairs and discusses implications for researchers and practitioners. The model
includes four interdependent leadership
capabilities for science instructional
leaders: (1) science leadership content
knowledge, (2) negotiating context and
solving problems, (3) building a collegial learning environment, and (4) advocating for science and science education. Introduction
With the publication of A Framework
for K-12 Science Education (National Research Council [NRC], 2012) and release
of the Next Generation Science Standards (Achieve, 2013), science teachers
face a comprehensive curriculum reform
that will shape science education for decades to come. The Framework lays out
Keywords: department chairs, instructional
leadership, science education, high school,
conceptual model 36 a vision for science education in which
all students ?actively engage in scientific and engineering practices and apply crosscutting concepts to deepen their
understanding of the core ideas in these
fields? (pp. 8-9). Alongside this national
standards movement, the state and local
contexts for science education are constantly shifting in response to political
and social pressures, economic realities,
student needs, and science and education
To provide science teachers with any
hope of thriving in this complex environment and achieving the NRC?s vision,
science education leaders must provide
ongoing, targeted support. High school
science teachers strongly identify with
their academic departments (Siskin,
1994). In fact, science teachers may
experience a greater connection to the
field of science education than to local
school improvement issues (Melville,
Hardy, & Bartley, 2011), and science
departments represent communities of
science educators as much as they do organizational units of schools (Melville &
Wallace, 2007). As leaders within these
communities, high school science department chairs represent an important
resource for instructional leadership.
Unfortunately, chair leadership is underresearched and under-used in schools
An empirical answer to the question
of how chairs can effectively act as instructional leaders within their schools
represents a gap in the science education
literature. However, existing literature
provides a useful framework for ongoing
research and professional practice in this
area. This article (1) presents a synthesis
of historical literature on the high school
department chair highlighting the challenges, contexts, and practices of chairs
enacting instructional leadership and (2)
proposes a conceptual model of science
instructional leadership informed by the historical review and by the recent literature in science education and instructional leadership. Aimed at practitioners
and researchers, the goals of this work
are to enhance our understanding of
chairs? instructional leadership practice
and to highlight the role chairs can play
in science curriculum reform. The High School Department
Chair: ?A race horse with
While early publications were largely
anecdotal, a historical review of academic writing on high school department chairs dating from 1910 reveals a
surprisingly consistent picture of the position. Early writings, published though
1959, provide a useful historical perspective on the topic, while empirical
studies published since 1960 illuminate
major themes that must inform current
Early Writings (1910-1959)
In the earliest publication found on
the topic, Meriwether (1910) reported
chairs experienced ?ambiguities and
inconsistencies? (p. 276) from the very
inception of the role. Other authors (e.g.
Heinmiller, 1921) described the multifaceted nature of the role, including responsibilities for pedagogy, supervision,
and administration. The first empirical
study in the field, Koch?s 1930 survey of
superintendents, principals, and chairs,
revealed qualifications, selection procedures, and compensation for chairs
varied widely, and he suggested chairs?
effectiveness was limited by ?routine
obligations? (Koch, 1930a, p. 263).
While Koch (1930b) argued a key role
of a chair was to ?close the gap between
the classroom and the principal?s office?
(p. 340), survey respondents reported
this function was severely limited by the
time available to visit the classrooms of
other teachers. Koch (1930b) concluded,
SCIENCE EDUCATOR ?the department headship is in confusion? (pp. 348-349) with little agreement
on the function of the position or the criteria for selection of chairs.
Authors writing in the 1940s and 1950s
delivered a familiar message. Invoking
the colorful analogy that heads this section, Axley (1947) referred to the chair
as ?a race horse with plow-horse duties?
(p. 1)* in arguing many schools failed
to take advantage of chairs? specialized
skills. Axley?s (1947) survey indicated
chairs were too busy with teaching and
?petty details? (p. 1) to focus on their
main function of instructional supervision and many chairs were not consulted
on personnel issues affecting their team
of teachers (Axley, 1947). After analyzing the specific duties expected of chairs,
Novak (1950) suggested a lack of specialized training left ?few, if any, who
feel equal to all of the requirements?
(p. 91). Rinker (1950) suggested chairs
should maintain simultaneous focus on
supporting students and teachers and on
links to the academic, professional, and
school communities while also performing clerical duties. Foreshadowing a later
theme, Rinker also argued chairs should
be advocates of change rather than protectors of the status quo.
These early articles preview three
themes that must continue to inform
any research on the department chair
position. First, chairs were expected to
play an important role in the ongoing
improvement of teaching within their
departments. Second, multiplicity and
ambiguity defined the chair?s role as they
were tasked with instructional improvement in addition clerical, administrative,
managerial, and extracurricular duties.
Finally, the role ambiguity mentioned
above, the need for specialized leadership skills, and the lack of release time,
appropriate compensation, and line authority severely limited chairs? ability
to fulfill their promise as instructional
Empirical Studies (1960-2012)
Empirical research in the field began
in earnest with King and Moon?s (1960)
survey, which was the first of 11 studies of chairs? roles and responsibilities
SUMMER 2014 VOL. 23, NO. 1 conducted during the 1960s and 1970s.
Beginning in the 1980s, researchers diversified their approaches by employing
a wide range of qualitative and quantitative methods to provide in-depth descriptions of chairs? work in schools and
to analyze relationships among specific
factors affecting chairs? leadership efforts. The school reform movement
that began in the 1980s also influenced
research topics, leading to an increased
focus on instructional leadership and
school change (Hallinger, 2005) and
on distributed leadership (Spillane,
Halverson, & Diamond, 2001). International scholars also began to take up
this topic with studies conducted in at
least nine countries outside the United
States. While individual studies exhibit
strengths and weaknesses, the consistency of findings paints a reliable portrait of the chair as a professional who
is asked to do too much in too little time
and with too few resources. However
beyond these limitations, several important themes emerge from the literature
that point to the potential for the chair to
act as an instructional leader in the high
Barriers to leadership. King and
Moon (1960) concluded that while the
status of the role had been in flux for
30 years, chairs could play an important
role in instructional improvement. Likewise, Weller (2001) suggested ?chairs
are in an ideal position to facilitate instructional improvement because of their
daily contact with teachers and their own
instructional expertise? (p. 74). However, the most dominant theme in the literature highlights the barriers chairs face as
a result of the ambiguous and multifaceted nature of their role. Survey research
(e.g., Berrier, 1974; Manlove & Buser,
1966) conducted during the 1960s and
1970s revealed chairs were engaging in
a combination of administrative, supervisory, curricular, and instructional duties similar to those described in earlier
publications. According to these studies, the lack of official job descriptions,
release time, and authority were the
factors that most limited chairs? effectiveness. Verchota (1971) was the first author to invoke role theory, a perspective that would dominate department
chair research beginning in the 1980s,
in his analysis of the position. Verchota
concluded chairs experience role conflict
because they are expected simultaneously to take the narrow view of a teacherspecialist and the school-wide view of
an administrator-manager. Despite this,
Verchota found chairs exerted greater
influence over teachers than did school
From 1980 through 2012, researchers published 30 studies (Table 1) on
chairs? general roles and responsibilities. These studies represent over 30
years of research in schools across the
United States and in four other nations
(i.e., Australia, Canada, Malaysia, and
the United Kingdom), and methods vary
from surveys of hundreds of educators to
self-studies of single department chairs.
Across this diversity, five themes emerge
clearly and consistently. First, chairs are
expected to carry out a variety of administrative, managerial, supervisory, curricular, and instructional responsibilities.
Second, chairs experience role conflict
as a result of their positioning between
teacher and administrator. Third, unclear
expectations and lack of time and other
resources lead to role ambiguity. Fourth,
chairs, administrators, and teachers agree
chairs should increase their focus on instructional improvement. Fifth, schools
can improve chairs? effectiveness by
providing release time and remuneration, delegating more formal authority, and providing targeted professional
learning for chairs. Even in the face of
these barriers, chairs can play a role in
instructional leadership (Anderson, 1987),
and existing literature can inform our understanding of the practices and contexts
that are important as chairs enact such
Leadership context. Department
chair leadership is highly contextdependent and is influenced by chairs?
experience and personal qualities, teacher
characteristics, departmental cohesion
and shared vision, leadership approach,
subject-related issues, school administration, school and community contexts,
37 Table 1: Summary of Research on the Roles and Responsibilities of Department Chairs, 1980-2010
Kottkamp & Mansfield, 1985
Pellicer & Stevenson, 1983 ?
? Girard, 1984 ?
? Shimeall, 1987 ?
? Busher, 1988
DeRoche, Kujawa, & Hunsaker, 1988 Hulsey, 1988
Orris, 1988 Adduci, Woods-Houston, & Webb, 1990 Fletcher, 1991
Kaminski, 1991 ?
? Worner & Brown, 1993 ?
Bliss, Fahrney, & Steffy, 1996 ?
? 38 Key Findings
Role conflict and role ambiguity are related to powerlessness.
Role ambiguity, and to a lesser extent role conflict, are also related to perceived burnout.
Chairs reported low rates of burnout.
Most districts did not have job descriptions or provide additional compensation or time.
Roles most often identified as important for the chair were selecting instructional materials, designing and
revising curriculum, assisting teachers in improving instruction, providing inservice training, and coordinating
the instructional efforts of the department.
Chairs conducted managerial, supervisory, curriculum, teaching, and administrative activities.
These activities led to role conflict and uncertainty.
The most prominent conflicts were inadequate time and remuneration, too many clerical duties, lack of
teacher preparation and resources, staff morale problems, and lack of support.
Chairs receive little release time and no secretarial help.
Administrative and clerical functions were perceived as most important.
Teacher evaluation was less important.
There was agreement between functions and selection criteria.
Chair reported reduction in role overload and positive affective results for teachers after delegating
departmental duties while providing appropriate support in these delegated duties.
Most schools did not have formal selection or evaluation procedures.
Most chairs did not have release time.
Most important perceived areas of responsibility were budgets, goals and objectives, curriculum, textbooks,
Chairs were perceived as leaders in schools and in their departments.
Chairs would prefer more involvement in school decision-making.
Three factors contributed to higher role perceptions of chairs: departments of 10 or more teachers, formal
selection by boards of education, and annual remuneration of at least $1000.
Groups agreed as to how chairs spend their time, but disagreed on the amount of time spent.
Principals and chairs perceived chairs spent more time on tasks than did teachers.
Chairs spent greatest time on management and communication tasks.
Groups agreed that the chair role should be expanded to increase responsibilities in management,
communications, personnel, and curriculum.
Principals and chairs favored expansion of the staff development role.
Principals reported greater support for expanding supervision role than chairs or teachers.
Identified six determinants of the chair role: job description, dual functions of curriculum/instruction and
administration, chairs? goals, agreement by role senders, professional learning opportunities, and resources.
Job description, goals, agreement among role senders, and professional learning are sources of role ambiguity.
Functions and resources are sources of role strain.
Chairs spent the majority of their time on managerial tasks.
All groups agreed that chairs should focus more on ?encouraging, stimulating, and motivating teachers?
Chairs reported that the most important competency was serving as a link between teachers and the
Chairs and teachers agreed that the least important competencies related to supervision and evaluation of
Principals and chairs disagreed on the extent to which principals shared decision-making.
Principals and chairs agreed on the following major responsibilities of chairs: conducting department
meetings, setting department goals and objectives, selecting materials and supplies, maintaining an inventory
of materials and supplies, serving as departmental spokesperson, representing the department as adviser to
the principal, and administering the department budget.
Principals also identified the following three as important: ensuring departmental consistency, recommending
the department budget, and informing the department members of new developments in the field.
Principals indicated that chairs should also take more responsibility for monitoring departmental goals and
objectives, implementing curriculum change, developing school policies, stimulating professional growth of
department members, handling departmental public relations, and promoting instructional change.
Chairs reported the rank of responsibilities as administrative, communication, and instruction.
Chairs identified the roles of administrator, facilitator, instructional leader, and transitional. English and math
chairs were inclined toward facilitation and instructional leadership, while science and social studies chairs
reported more emphasis on administration.
Nearly one-third of chairs aspired to greater instructional leadership.
Teachers perceived chairs to provide moderate level of instructional leadership and reported preference for
chairs to increase emphasis on instructional improvement and assessment.
There was no clear connection between chair reported roles and teacher perceptions of IL. No connection
between chair roles and collegiality. SCIENCE EDUCATOR Table 1: Contd.,
R. Korach, 1996 Key Findings
? Chairs perceived themselves to spend more time on their role than did teachers.
? Teachers placed more importance than did chairs on protecting instructional time and supporting teachers?
W. Korach, 1996
? Administrators placed higher value on the supervisory role while chairs placed higher value on the
Brown & Rutherford, 1998
? Chairs enacted all five approaches (i.e. servant leader, organizational architect, moral educator, social
architect, and leading professional) in the leadership typology.
? Leadership is enacted within practical constraints and local contexts.
? The majority of chairs? time was spent on teaching, modeling good practice, and managing their departments
with little time left for improving teaching and learning.
Abolghasemi, McCormick, & Conners, 1999
? Chairs -principal congruence was a better predictor of teacher support of school vision than was principals?
visionary behaviors or structural coupling.
? Principals influence teachers directly, but the influence is stronger when mediated by chairs.
Glover & Miller, 1999b
? Chairs in schools whose management structures were focused on teaching and learning were more likely to
spend time on leadership activities.
? Department meetings and student support consumed almost half of chairs? non-teaching time.
? Many chairs were interrupted during class time to address issues or support other teachers.
Wise & Bush, 1999
? Chairs assumed a larger role in school management as a result of national education reforms.
? Chair decisions influenced primarily by department members, followed administration.
? Chairs had inadequate time to carry out all of their responsibilities.
? Transition from teacher to chair was characterized by negative emotions resulting from role ambiguity, feelings
of powerlessness, shortfalls in goal attainment, and strained relationships with teachers and students.
? Chairs coped with these emotions by viewing their leadership role as an extension of their teaching role rather
than a result of a formal title.
? Chairs who received release time and compensation experienced less role ambiguity, less role conflict, and
less concern regarding resource adequacy. They also had more positive perceptions of the chair role.
? There were two distinct role configurations, evaluating administrator and program improver, for chairs in
? Lack of training, line authority, and voice in schoolwide decisions all limit chair effectiveness.
? Essential knowledge and skills for chairs include human relations, communication, leadership, group
dynamics, flexibility, diplomacy, teaching practices, and subject knowledge.
? Most did not list instructional supervision or curriculum development because of lack of time and
? 85% believed chairs should be more involved in curriculum and instructional improvement.
Collier, Dinham, Brennan, Deece, & Mulford, 2002 ? Chairs? initial expectations for the role did not match the reality.
? Administrative duties constituted a greater portion of chairs workload than duties related to curriculum and
? Chairs recommended reducing their teaching load and administrative duties to free time to spend with
? Chairs perceived working with teachers and contributing to school change as the most positive aspects of their
? Chairs cited lack of time, workload, external pressures, being caught between administrators and teachers,
and dealing with under-performing teachers as negative aspects of the position.
? Administrators and chairs perceived management, supervision, human relations, organization, and
programming all to be very important, but chairs assigned greater importance than did teachers.
? Principals perceived the chair role to be supervisory while teachers perceived it to be administrative.
? The chair role is constantly enacted and negotiated and is characterized by ?complexity and contingency? (p.
? The role can be characterized by the concept of heteroglossia (i.e. tensions within language that lead to
? Reflective practice and self-study rather than fixed professional development is the most appropriate approach
to make sense of and improve one?s practice in the chair role.
? Chairs need skills to address vision, climate, management, community, citizenship, and larger community
? Chairs perceived themselves to have a high competency level in interpersonal relations and moderate
competency levels in department administration, curriculum development, supervision and mentoring of
teachers, and professional development.
? Chairs identity constructed through stakeholder interactions within complex school context.
? Chairs functioned within the school hierarchy to serve as conduits, nurturers, department clerks, and resource
managers. SUMMER 2014 VOL. 23, NO. 1 39 and lack of time (James & AubreyHopkins, 2003; Ryan, 1999). Within
these contexts, chair leadership is dynamic and socially constructed, and
chairs? internal sense of authority moderates these factors (James & AubreyHopkins, 2003). Clarke (1980) found
teachers, principals, and chairs held
different expectations for chairs? supervisory behaviors and that chairs generally followed their own expectations or
modified them to better align to principal
expectations. The wider literature indicates the most salient contextual factors
are school leadership structure, school
change, and academic subject.
Existing literature indicates school
leadership structure is the most important factor influencing chairs? practice
and often contributes to role ambiguity.
Johnson (1990) and Glover and Miller
(1999a) reported school leadership
structure influenced how chairs balanced
various leadership styles (e.g., transactional vs. transformational and collegial
vs. managerial). Chairs tended to act
as initiators, rather than inhibitors, of
change in schools that provided appropriate professional learning and involved
chairs in curriculum planning and development and in school planning and
policy making (Glover & Miller, 1999a).
Johnson (1990) also found the ambiguity of chairs? dual roles as teachers and
administrators provided ?productive
tension? (p. 177) for some chairs and
a major challenge for others. Chairs in
Zepeda and Kruskamp?s (2007) study
practiced instructional supervision in
an intuitive and differentiated manner
because they received neither direction
from the school principal nor appropriate professional learning. Todd?s (2006)
survey of school administrators and department chairs revealed principals? and
assistant principals?, but not department
chairs?, instructional leadership behaviors correlated with student achievement. Todd (2006) suggested further
research is needed to determine whether
there is an indirect link between department chair instructional leadership and
40 Several researchers have concluded
chairs enjoy their greatest influence in
schools that promote distributed leadership and collegiality. Wyeth (1992)
found formal structures for shared decision making, delegation of authority by
the principal, and evaluation of teachers
by department chairs supported chairs?
influence. Similarly Brown, Boyle, and
Boyle (1998, 1999) concluded chairs
were most effective in schools with
collegial management structures characterized by collaboration among departments, alignment between departmental
and school priorities, and involvement
of chairs and teachers in school decision
making. Along with supporting chairs?
influence, Numeroff (2005) found collegiality reduces teacher uncertainty and...
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