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Leading, teaching and learning “in the Middle” – An international case study narrative examining the leadership dimensions, instructional practices and contextual philosophies that have transformed teaching and learning in the middle years

Yee, Brandy

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Through the exploration of the lived experiences, beliefs and values of instructional leaders, lead teachers and students in Finland, Germany and Canada, this study seeks to answer the question, “What factors contribute to the establishment of developmentally responsive, intellectually engaging middle level learning environments for early adolescents?” Provoked by current research emerging from the Canadian province of Manitoba calling for the transformation of middle level learning environments, leading, teaching and learning in the middle years are examined through the lens of Robinson’s (2011) “leadership dimensions,” Friesen’s (2009) effective instructional practices and Dweck’s (2008) “growth mindset.” Consideration of these three research perspectives in the context of early adolescent learning and middle level learning environments, placed against an international backdrop, provides a previously undocumented perspective into this phenomenon.

Aligning with a social constructivist, qualitative research paradigm, the research design for this study incorporates collective case study methodology, along with constructivist grounded theory methods of data analysis. Three case study narratives are used to share the rich stories of study participants in Finland, Germany and Canada, selected using maximum variation and intensity sampling techniques. Interview transcript data was coded using processes outlined in Charmaz’s (2006, 2012) constructivist grounded theory. A cross-case analysis yielded a conceptual framework, highlighting key factors that were found in the data to be significant in the establishment of developmentally responsive, intellectually engaging middle level learning environments.

Although this study focuses on 12 schools in Finland, Germany and Canada, it informs the practice of all those working with early adolescent learners in middle level learning environments in all corners of the globe. Using the insight and practical wisdom shared by study participants as a catalyst to reflect on and question current practices related to leading, teaching and learning in middle years will provide educators and education systems around the world with the awareness needed to support the next generation of early adolescent learners.

Item Type: Dissertation
Supervisor: Sliwka, Prof. Dr. Anne
Place of Publication: Heidelberg, Germany
Date of thesis defense: 10 July 2015
Date Deposited: 09 Nov 2015 10:11
Date: 2015
Faculties / Institutes: The Faculty of Behavioural and Cultural Studies > Institut für Bildungswissenschaft
Subjects: 370 Education
Uncontrolled Keywords: middle level learning, middle years, early adolescents, early adolescence, instructional leadership, leadership dimensions, instructional practices, student agency, developmentally responsive, intellectually engaging
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