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Introducing undergraduate students to school leadership concepts

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Purpose ‐ This paper aims to investigate the role of an under-graduate educational leadership in introducing students to the complexity of school leadership practice. Design/methodology/approach ‐ Theoretically informed by Bourdieuian social theory and drawing on a questionnaire with a cohort of students, the paper evaluates a course in relation to achieving its outcomes. Findings ‐ An analysis of student responses indicates that the course did introduce students to school leadership practice and assist in the construction of a school leadership disposition. Research limitations/implications ‐ The theoretical resources used in the paper have significant implications for how researchers conceive of school leadership practice. Therefore, this paper may be the basis of further work. Practical implications ‐ The findings of this work have implications for teacher educators and specifically universities. From this paper, the inclusion of an educational leadership course in under-graduate programs should become more the norm rather than the exception. Originality/value ‐ This paper has value in two unique ways. First, there has been very little work undertaken on the role of educational leadership courses in under-graduate programs and in the context of increased political attention and no formal pre-requisites for the principalship in Australia, this work is both timely and significant. Second, this paper works with a sophisticated notion of school leadership practice and its location using social theory, a perspective that is uncommon in much of the literature on educational leadership.
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Keywords: Australia; Leadership; Leadership preparation; Learning processes; Principals; Schools; Social theories; Undergraduates

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: March 16, 2012

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