EDEV_505 Week 7_Report

Note: I would not normally post the work of others. However, I drafted this report almost in its entirety.

Team Report

Educational leaders come in many kinds, but only those who are able to utilise the available information can become successful in guiding their institutions through the vicissitudes that characterise modern higher education (Neumann & Neumann, 1999; Taylor & Machado-Taylor, 2010). A progression in the theory of information can be identified: the recognition of what constitutes useful information in planning (Holbeche, 2009; Longden & Yorke, 2009); what kinds of evidence aid the assessment of a leadership response (Ong, 2012; Yeo, 2006); what types of challenges leaders face in utilising the evidence (Middlehurst, 2008); and how to effect transformational organisational learning that is evidence-based (Bell & Stevenson, 2006; Brown, 2013; Tagg, 2007; Tosey, Visser, & Saunders, 2011). That change is inevitable in higher education (Bell & Stevenson, 2006) predicates the need for educational leaders to be constantly aware of both their immediate situation and its need for double-loop learning (Argyris, 2002; Lawler & Sillitoe, 2013; Tagg, 2007; Tosey et al., 2011).

Over the past weeks, Team B have documented case studies that involve a vast range of educational policies aimed at promoting student engagement in higher education. Table 1 shows the extent of evidence collected in the context of the organisational issue and what other evidence could have been utilised in their cases.



Evidence Collected

Other Evidence to Assess Policy


Post-graduate strategy review

Working group formation, quality assessment criteria, student, entrance & exit pathways

Current student numbers, graduation rates, student satisfaction surveys, balanced score card


How to enhance access for students with difficulties


Change of streaming policy

student enrolment figures, Open Campus attendances, student satisfaction surveys, attrition rates

Number of professors resigning, firing of President, enrolment rates


Opticians disallowed from conducting eye examinations

Credit system, available pathways, course workloads, credit transfer rates

Degree awarding bodies and authority, use of libraries, student support centres and counselling, balanced score card


Academies must match student intake with choice of study

Attrition and enrolment rates, records of communications with the Dutch MoE, longitudinal data from matching study, course transfer rates

Comparative study of attrition and completion rates

Table 1. Issues and evidence types

From this table, a brief typology of evidence can be made: communication systems, e.g., working groups and records of communications with education ministries; quantitative and qualitative data, e.g., attrition rates and Open Campus attendances; and systems records, e.g., credit transfer systems and professor employment numbers.

For evidence to be useful, the implications it carries need to be understood. This action, however, presents many challenges for educational leaders (Kezar, 2005). Change is often approached using a limited repertoire of actions taken from past experiences without any investigation of assumptions, beliefs and values: the so-called ‘single-loop learning’ (Argyris, 2002; Petrovic, 2012). Double-loop learning results from the analysis of an organisation’s ‘governing values’ (Tagg, 2007, see figures 1 and 2). No team member stated directly that their institution engaged in double-loop learning, and one member noted the audacity required of organisational members “to dare to critically look at this programme” (Van Melle, 2016). A conclusion that can be drawn is that our institutions are characterised by positivist beliefs in the efficacy of single-loop action strategies (Moses & Knutsen, 2012). However, higher education institutions are inherently complex and the effects of policy are unpredictable (Hannah & Lester, 2009). A pluralist methodology that recognises the utility of reflecting and challenging the institution’s erstwhile unquestioned assumptions (Patterson, 2014) may offer a more secure way of surviving and flourishing in the uncertain future (Neumann & Neumann, 1999). Methods of achieving this end are to invite all stakeholders (Maric, 2013) involved in the set-up of the policy to reflect on the appropriacy of the proposal. Also, purely top-down command-and-control methods are seen to have less inclusivity and ability to nurture an environment that empowers stakeholders and in which critical analysis becomes possible.


Argyris, C. (2002). Teaching smart people how to learn. Organization Development., 4(2).

Bell, L., & Stevenson, H. (2006). Education Policy: Education Policy Process, Themes and Impact. London and New York: Routledge. Retrieved from http://eprints.lincoln.ac.uk/1851/1/Ed_Policy_book_proofs.pdf

Brown, S. (2013). Large-scale innovation and change in UK higher education. Research in Learning Technology, 21(1063519), 1–13. http://doi.org/10.3402/rlt.v21i0.22316

Hannah, S. T., & Lester, P. B. (2009). A multilevel approach to building and leading learning organizations. Leadership Quarterly, 20(1), 34–48. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.leaqua.2008.11.003

Holbeche, L. (2009). Aligning human resources and business strategyNo Title. Amsterdam: Butterworth-Heinemann.

Kezar, A. J. (2005). What campuses need to know about organizational learning and the learning organization. New Directions for Higher Education, 2005(131), 7–22.

Lawler, A., & Sillitoe, J. (2013). Facilitating “organisational learning” in a “learning institution.” Journal of Higher Education Policy and Management, 35(5), 495–500. http://doi.org/10.1080/1360080X.2013.825415

Longden, B., & Yorke, M. (2009). Institutional research. Perspectives: Policy and Practice in Higher Education, 13(3), 66–70. http://doi.org/10.1080/13603100903068957

Maric, I. (2013). Stakeholder Analisys of Higher Education Institutions. Interdisciplinary Description of Complex Systems, 11(2), 217–226. http://doi.org/10.7906/indecs.11.2.4

Middlehurst, R. (2008). Not enough science or not enough learning? Exploring the gaps between leadership theory and practice. Higher Education Quarterly, 62(4), 322–339. http://doi.org/10.1111/j.1468-2273.2008.00397.x

Moses, J. W., & Knutsen, T. L. (2012). Ways of knowing: Competing methodologies in social and political research (2nd ed.). Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

Neumann, Y., & Neumann, E. F. (1999). The president and the college bottom line: the role of strategic leadership styles. Library Consortium Management: An International Journal, 2(3/4), 97–108. http://doi.org/10.1108/14662760010355338

Ong, V. Y. S. (2012). Complexities of multiple paradigms in higher education leadership today. Journal of Global Management, 4(1). http://doi.org/10.1055/s-0032-1333472

Patterson, J. (2014). Walking with intangibles: Experiencing organisational learning. Journal of Management Development, 33(6), 564–579. http://doi.org/10.1108/JMD-04-2014-0036

Petrovic, S. (2012). Critically generated knowledge – the Triple Loop learning result. Management, 62, 73–82. http://doi.org/10.7595/management.fon.2011.0002

Tagg, J. (2007). Double-loop learning in higher education. Change, (July/ August), 36–41.

Taylor, J. S., & Machado-Taylor, M. D. L. (2010). Leading Strategic Change in Higher Education: The Need for a Paradigm Shift toward Visionary Leadership. At the Interface / Probing the Boundaries, 72, 167–194.

Tosey, P., Visser, M., & Saunders, M. N. (2011). The origins and conceptualizations of “triple-loop” learning: A critical review. Management Learning, 43(3), 291–307. http://doi.org/10.1177/1350507611426239

Van Melle, J. (2016). Week 7 – Evidence in planning and assessment, part 2 [Forum Post].  22 Aug 2016. https://elearning.uol.ohecampus.com/webapps/discussionboard/

Yeo, R. K. (2006). Learning institution to learning organization. Journal of European Industrial Training, 30(5), 396–419. http://doi.org/http://dx.doi.org/10.1108/BIJ-10-2012-0068


About theCaledonian

Scot living in north Japan teaching at a private university.
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