The research designs that both authors use are very different as well as the purposes behind each analysis. Printy’s (2008) research design examines the importance of school leaders to mathematics and science teachers’ participation in productive communities of practice as well as the relationship between school leadership and teachers’ competence and pedagogical skills by using a hierarchical linear modelling and the Rasch model to construct measures of analysis (p.187). In contrast, the research design that Raccah (2006) employs is a similarity-attraction perspective to examine male and female school leaders’ relations to similar others in three educational systems: Jewish secular public schools, Jewish religious schools and Arab schools (p.291). Therefore, Printy’s research design is intended to analyse the level of participation that teachers contribute to communities. Raccah also focuses on leadership. However, Raccah intends to focus purely on the role gender can play in affecting the relationship between school leaders and teachers. The purposes behind both studies are also different. Printy’s (2008) purpose is to examine the extent to which formal leaders in schools influence the formation of productive communities of practice and the extent to which leaders impact teachers’ beliefs formed as a result of their professions as well as their ability to explain instructions (p.187). Raccah (2006) instead focuses on the sociocultural contexts regarding women’s status and examined how far women in these institutions go in being able to influence the outcomes of other women in the teaching profession (p.291). Therefore, Printy intends to focus on the impact leadership can have in forming teachers’ beliefs whereas Raccah is focusing solely on the impact that sociocultural contexts influence the context to which women operate in.
Both of the authors exercise quantitative methods. Printy (2008) investigates the significance of leadership by the department chair and the school principal in the expansion of productive communities of practice and the impact of leadership to teachers’ beliefs and practices that go beyond productive community participation (p.200). One quantitative means of study that Printy (2008) uses is the Rasch model that turns the data into possibilities that teachers adopt approaches based on the difficulty scores of how easy or difficult it is for teachers to agree or disagree with each other (p.201). Printy’s (2008) analysis proceeds in two stages using hierarchical linear modelling that investigates the importance of leadership to mathematics and science teachers and then the relationship between school leadership and pedagogy (p.187). The results of Printy’s (2008) study suggests that departmental chairpersons and school leaders are significant in constructing opportunities for teachers to learn in communities of practice (p.200). Printy (2008) found that principals do not impact upon the instructional concerns of teachers in urban and rural schools with departmental leaders potentially slowing down the rate of instructional change which shift the focus of the teacher from the classroom to the student (p.200). This study shows that leadership can have a significant impact on the ability of teachers to perform in schools. In contrast, Raccah’s (2006) study was based on the Israel Central Bureau of Statistics (2000) which included teachers and school administrators within the Jewish secular public, Jewish religious public and Arab educational systems to whom a questionnaire was administered (p.302). Raccah (2006) used multinomial logistic regression analyses where the dependent variable had a leadership position (p.291). Raccah (2006) used tables as a step to analyse data by presenting results that show women are more likely to hold administrative positions in schools under the leadership of women (p.307). The results of this study were very similar to Printy’s as it showed that leadership can have a significant impact upon how women promoted other women based on their own leadership position within a school and that female school leaders can show more diversified behaviour towards other women than men in leadership positions (Raccah 2006: p.303). Both studies have demonstrated the impact leadership can have on schools even though their studies were conducted for different reasons.
The hypothesis behind Raccah’s (2006) study was that female teachers with certain characteristics are likely to hold a leadership position (p.303). However, Raccah (2006) acknowledged that this study did not take into consideration other factors such as organisational and societal factors in affecting women’s leadership and practice in schools (p.303). Therefore, this shows that the hypothesis behind this article was rather limited by not taking into consideration other factors that may affect women’s leadership in schools. Raccah (2006) admits more research needs to be conducted into this field (p.303). It is very difficult to show whether or not the results behind Raccah’s study are valid due to this study failing to take into account all factors that inhibit the performance female teachers. This is a biased study that examines in too much detail the influence of one factor.
In contrast, Printy (2008) used research questions to explore teachers’ perceptions of their subjects affect the way they teach; the importance of leadership in influencing community participation; and the relationship between leadership and competence (p.200). Though Printy’s (2008) study found that department chairs prefer to maintain the status quo as opposed to embracing new methods of teaching, the limits behind these results is that department leaders’ perceptions may have changed since this study was conducted so there needs to be a continued analysis into this trend before the results prove conclusive (p.200). The results for Printy’s study are out-dated for that reason.
In terms of measurement and instrument, the dependent variables used for Printy’s (2008) included Communities of Practice in the first analysis and teachers’ pedagogical competence and use of standards-based pedagogy in the second (p.202). The independent variables were department leadership and school leadership (Printy 2008: p.202). However, Printy (2008) admits that the limits behind this research mean that there is a lack of specificity when interpreting the results behind this survey (p.203). This shows more detailed research is needed in order to ensure that the results of this study remain consistent. Raccah’s (2006) dependent variable was school leadership whilst the independent variables varied from ethnicity to gender that shows that this is an example of non-experimental research as it uses predictor variables like ethnicity (p.303). Nevertheless, the problem with the independent variables seem is that they assume that women are less likely to take on leadership positions due to feminine responsibilities like taking care of children.
The validity and reliability of Printy’s (2008) article needs to be called into question because the author draws conclusions such as ‘leaders structure learning meetings’ yet there is no empirical evidence behind these claims (p.217). Therefore, Printy’s study becomes increasingly inaccurate. In contrast, the reliability behind Raccah’s (2006) that there is a need to probe leadership barriers for minority women especially (p.315). There is still discrimination in many institutions that need to be overcome. However, because of the way Raccah (2006) sampled participants, there are limitations behind this study because it was based on a cross-sectional study of staff’s likelihood to fill roles at a given time under male or female leaders (p.311). The sampled participants’ circumstances may have changed since the time this study was conducted. Printy’s (2008) study too had problems with sampling as the data came from mathematics and science teachers who only taught twelfth graders which shows how limited the sample was when the study was conducted (p.311). Printy (2008) used a non-experimental study, like Raccah, that used data from the National Educational Longitudinal Study of 1988 that was then successfully completed in 1992 (p.201). The sample fails to take into consideration other teachers who may face similar circumstances.
Printy, S.M. (April 2008) Leadership for Teacher Learning: A Community of Practice Perspective. Educational Administration Quarterly, 44 (2), 187-226.
Addi-Raccah, A. (August 2006) Accessing Internal Leadership Positions at School: Testing the Similarity-Attraction Approach Regarding Gender in Three Educational Systems in Israel. Educational Administration Quarterly, 42 (3), 291-323.