Logo: Deutsches Institut für Internationale Pädagogische Forschung


Professionalization of School Leaders

Conducted in Cyprus, this project aims at gaining in-depth insights into school leaders’ convictions and patterns of actions, to gather information about their learning behavior in the framework of sustainable professionalisation.

Project description

School leadership has been identified by a number of researchers as a key element in the effectiveness of school organizations, especially with reagards to the principal’s crucial role for improving students’ academic achievement. If certain school leadership practices are important for improving student´s academic achievement, then we should also be concerned with how leaders learn to do their jobs in ways that contribute to student learning. Therefore the main objective of the proposed mixed-method study is to explore the relationship between the leadership styles school principals adopt when leading their schools, their epistemological worldviews (i.e. holistic beliefs about the nature and acquisition of knowledge), and their beliefs about the contextual and educational governance structures in which they operate (i.e., situational governance). These findings will be used to formulate a proposal for developing leadership training programs for primary and secondary school principals.

The general pattern of results drawn from empirical research supports the belief that principals exercise a measurable, though indirect effect on school effectiveness and student achievement. This ascertainment has led to a growing recognition that the professional development of school leaders could contribute significantly to the improvement of their practices which are needed for effective school leadership. With regard to the content of leadership development, the most desired element brought up in most pieces of research concerns the practice of instructional leadership. The rationale guiding our approach is that the in-depth knowledge of the principals’ beliefs and practices will provide a significant input into their own learning within the context of professional growth schemes. It is likely that principals’ epistemological worldviews impose certain constraints on their’ decision making, learning, and practices. We expect that the findings derived from the proposed research will directly inform the design of evidence-based, school leadership training programs that take into consideration important factors that affect how principals decide to lead their schools.

Research questions

  • What are the beliefs of school principals about the contextual and educational governance structures in which they operate in primary and secondary education?
  • What are the leadership styles adopted by school principals in primary and secondary education?
  • What are the epistemological worldviews (i.e. holistic beliefs about the nature and acquisition of knowledge) of school principals in primary and secondary education?
  • How do principals’ leadership styles relate to their epistemological worldviews and to their beliefs about contextual and educational governance structures?
  • Do similarities and differences in leadership and epistemological profiles exist with regards to primary and secondary school principals?

Methodological approach


The project is funded by the the Cyprus Research Promotion Foundation. 


  • Open University of Cyprus, Cyprus, Host Organization, Coordinating Institution (Professor Petros Pashiardis, Project Leader, and Dr. Panayiota Kendeou member of the Project team)
  • Cyprus Pedagogical Institute, Cyprus, (Dr. Athina Michaelidou, member of the Project team
  • University of Leiden, The Netherlands, (Dr. Paul van den Broek, member of the Project team)
  • McGill University, Canada, (Professor Krista R. Muis, member of the Project team 

Project Details

Completed projects
09/2008 – 08/2011
External funding
Department: Educational Governance
last modified Aug 04, 2017