Theme 4: Factors Supporting or Hindering School-Based Improvement

Overcoming the barriers to Educational Change in the Arab Context: Examining pathways to building systemic capacity for sustainable school-based improvement. ICSEI Paper, Marrakech, Morocco – 2020

Karami-Akkary, R., Meyers, C. (January 2020). Overcoming the barriers to Educational Change in the Arab Context: Examining pathways to building systemic capacity for sustainable school-based improvement. ICSEI Paper accepted at the International Congress for School Effectiveness and Improvement, Marrakech, Morocco. 

On January 8, 2020, Dr. Rima Karami, TAMAM Project Director and Principal Investigator, and in collaboration with Dr. Coby Meyers, Chief of Research in the Partnership for Leaders in Education initiative, at the University of Virginia delivered a presentation about their collaborative research study in the ICSEI – International Congress for School Effectiveness and Improvement in Morocco. Specifically, the presentation focused on reporting the progress of the data analysis and sharing some of the recent research findings of the study conducted in one of TAMAM public Lebanese school. The study is titled “Overcoming the Barriers to Educational Change in the Arab Context: Examining pathways to building systemic capacity for sustainable school-based improvement”. Dr. Karami continued working with Dr. Meyers to complete the data analysis and a manuscript for publication will be ready soon.  

Sustaining School-based Improvement: Considering Emotional Responses to Change. UCEA 31st Annual Convention. Denver, USA - 2017

Karami-Akkary, R., Mahfouz, J., & Mansour, S. (November 2017). Sustaining School-based Improvement: Considering Emotional Responses to Change. University Council for Educational Administration (UCEA) 31st Annual Convention. Denver, USA 

Purpose: Emotions of school leaders influence school culture and structure. Understanding emotions is under-researched and under-theorized in non-western contexts, especially during educational change. The purpose of this paper is to understand the nature of the leadership team’s (LT’s) emotional responses to change, their coping strategies and conditions that maintain their commitment to change. 

Methodology: The study used intrinsic case study research, drawing on data from interviews and a focus group that illuminated perceptions of the LT in a school. The data set was analyzed following the general inductive approach. 

Findings: The LT’s experienced three critical incidents (CI) of educational change that provoked a range of intense negative and positive emotions, a national curriculum reform. Despite the team’s attempt to cope with the national curriculum reform (i.e. CI1), negative emotions and unsupportive conditions challenged their commitment to change. In CI2, supportive conditions and effective personal coping strategies helped elicit positive emotions, which led to sustained commitment to change. Emotions experienced during the capacity-building program (i.e. CI3) were predominantly positive due to support from the school principal and coaches, resulting in sustained commitment to change. 

Research limitations/implications: Findings from this small-scale case study in Lebanon are not generalizable to other contexts. The time lag could have affected the recollection of experiences. All participants were female, and their experiences might not reflect those of other school members affected by the changes. 

Practical implications: Examining emotions during change uncovers insight into school leaders’ subjective experience, facilitates a more nuanced understanding of change, and supports change implementation. Considering emotions during change informs the development of tailored interventions that provide effective support. 

Originality/value: This study examines how emotions affect the success of educational change. Contrary to common understanding, change does not always generate negative emotions that impede implementation. School-based improvement creates structural and cultural conditions for effective change as it considers practitioners’ socio-emotional needs, eliciting positive emotions. 

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