Research is a valuable part of the education environment. Unfortunately, too few school practitioners are able to find the time to keep abreast of the developments in educational research.
Social networks such as Twitter (#edchat, #edtech, #vicpln – to name but a few) and Facebook (FacingIT, Teaching Generation Text, VicPLN) have allowed time-poor educators an opportunity to share current research articles that are improving the pool of knowledge into what effective teaching and learning can look like.
For my own part, I am conducting research – as a part of a Master of Education at Monash University – into student conceptions of followership in the classroom.
Leadership has received a significant amount of attention in the educational research sphere to date. Followership, less so. Typically, these two concepts are explored from the perspective of principals, administrators or, occasionally, teachers.
Leadership/Followership are often conceptualised as an influence relationship (Meindl, 1995) and the work of John Hattie (Visible Learning) provides evidence that a powerful driver of improved student outcomes (effect size – 0.74) is teacher-student relationships. Extending on this, the process of reciprocal teaching – which by definition implies a relational component – has an effect size of 0.72.
The strength of these effect sizes suggests to me that the current focus of the research on the leadership and followership of adults in schools has missed the mark. The ability of students to form, maintain and grow leader/follower skills appears to offer the greatest support to improving their educational (both academic and holistic) outcomes.
I look forward to sharing the results of my research as it develops and hope that more practitioners can find the time (and energy!) to review their practice from broader perspective, perhaps identifying areas for educational research of their own.