Research Findings Make a Dense but Valuable Read on Educational Leadership

Article excerpt

RESEARCH FINDINGS MAKE A DENSE BUT VALUABLE READ ON EDUCATIONAL LEADERSHIP A New Agenda for Research in Educational Leadership By William A. Firestone and Carolyn Riehl, Eds. 2005, Teachers College Press Cloth, 256 pages, $54

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Reviewer's rating: 3 out of 4

Review by Francis M. Duffy

As a consumer of research, I often find myself analyzing, synthesizing, and evaluating research findings and then figuring out ways to explain my understanding of these findings to my graduate students using simple, actionable language. The burgeoning field of knowledge management calls what I do "knowledge mining using text analysis."

The aim of knowledge management is to identify valuable patterns that indicate trends and significant features of specific topics and then convert that information into communicable knowledge. In A New Agenda for Research in Educational Leadership, William Firestone and Carolyn Riehl offer a rich data field for knowledge miners like us - a field filled with glittering gemstones about what we know and don't know about the nature of educational leadership. But these gemstones aren't lying at the surface waiting to be gathered. You have to dig for them, and the digging can be tedious.

Firestone and Riehl assembled a collection of chapters written by several researchers, all with an interest in educational leadership. The purpose of the book is to set forth an agenda for future research on educational leadership. The book, therefore, is primarily for researchers. But for staff development specialists with an interest in searching for research-based ideas for providing leadership training in their school systems, the book also offers many insights (the metaphorical gemstones) on the nature of educational leadership. Here are a few examples:

* There is an increased interest in holding education leaders accountable for creating prerequisite conditions for improved student learning (e.g. providing resources to teachers, facilitating communities of practice, providing opportunities for teachers to learn).

* School leadership makes important contributions to improving student learning. …