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Paper presented at the 11th Hawaii International Conference on Education, Honolulu, Hawaii, 6-9 January 2013
A review of the literature reveals broadness in the conceptual and operational definition of the construct, Distributed Leadership (DL) (refer to discussions by Spillane, Gronn, Harris, Bennett, and Leithwood), making it elusive. The elusive nature of DL is due in part to the term 'leadership' which is contested among educational theorists; while the other, is due to the lack of attempts at trying to unpack and measure this construct. The purpose of this study is to unpack and discuss key dimensions of the construct of DL based on a nation-wide survey of school leadership in Singapore. Special care was taken in critically determining these dimensions and not areas or aspects where DL may be applied. In other words, we are more interested in the essence of DL rather than categories of distributed leadership practices, which most leadership researchers employ. This study is especially timely in view of the rising trend in school-based curriculum development and innovation towards growing expansion of student learning outcomes beyond the academic subjects such as the 21st century skills. The growing importance of school-based development and innovation calls for leadership practices that not only improve classroom teaching and learning, but also greater devolvement of decision-making power at the school and classroom levels. In the process of better understanding the DL construct, it is an imperative aim of much multivariate analysis is to reduce the dimensionality of the data collected. This is essentially desirable in the investigative stages of a research to provide a lucid interpretation of the data and theoretical measurement model building. This requires the use of a proper metric. As such, Exploratory Factor Analysis was performed on the Rasch (linearized) standardized residuals (see Linacre, 1998, 2006; Wright, 1994, 1996). The DL instrument consists of 25 items, and the sample involved schools leaders from Singapore (i.e., 224 Principals, 322 Vice-Principals and 686 middle-level school managers). The findings provided evidence that the Rasch residual-based factor analysis yielded 4 possible factors of DL. The discussion on these factors will be presented.
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