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Sahlin, Susanne
Publications (10 of 19) Show all publications
Sahlin, S. (2019). Collaboration with private companies as a vehicle for school improvement: Principals’ experiences and sensemaking. Journal of Professional Capital and Community, 4(1), 15-35
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Collaboration with private companies as a vehicle for school improvement: Principals’ experiences and sensemaking
2019 (English)In: Journal of Professional Capital and Community, ISSN 2056-9548, E-ISSN 2056-9556, Vol. 4, no 1, p. 15-35Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Abstract

Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to examine principals’ experience and sensemaking of collaboration with private companies, focussing on leadership and school improvement.Design/methodology/approach – This paper is set against the backdrop of a project where three public Swedish schools collaborated with private companies within their communities. Data were collected over three years and consisted of semi-structured interviews, meeting notes, field observations, field notes and document analysis. A qualitative content analysis was performed using the Atlas.ti 6.2 software tool.Findings – The study shows that important sensemaking for the principals in this collaboration between schools and private companies is related to the sense of collective responsibility and involvement, development of improvement culture and trust between key actors, and common improvement initiatives based on mutual interest. Challenges in the collaboration are related to principal changes, a lack of implementation of the collaboration, and that there was no clear vision of external collaboration in two out of three schools. In terms of possibilities, the collaboration was based on the needs of the school, a collaborative culture was developed, and the development/activities were undertaken between involved schools and private companies during the collaboration.

Research limitations/implications – Inevitably, there are limitations that need to be identified and recognised in this study. First, the small number of cases in this multiple case study, as well as the specific social context, limits the possibility of generalising the findings. Second, the study was not independently selected, and the findings and analyses are linked to national and local contexts, which can be seen as a limitation and strength. Notwithstanding, this study contributes with in-depth information about how a beyond-school collaboration with private companies is practised as well as how involved principals made sense of the collaboration from the perspective of school improvement.

Originality/value – The originality is the collaboration between schools and private companies. The paper contributes with new knowledge about how principals experience and make sense of this collaboration as a vehicle for school improvement.

Keywords
School improvement, Beyond-school collaboration, Broadening professional communities, Principals’ sensemaking, Professional collaboration, School–business partnerships
National Category
Pedagogy
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:miun:diva-35051 (URN)10.1108/JPCC-03-2018-0013 (DOI)000455091600002 ()
Available from: 2018-12-05 Created: 2018-12-05 Last updated: 2019-02-15Bibliographically approved
Sahlin, S. (2018). Principals Experience And Sensemaking Of A Collaboration With Private Companies As A Vehicle For School Improvement. In: : . Paper presented at Paper presented at the ECER 2018 - The European Conference of Educational Research: Inclusion and Exclusion, Resources for Educational Research?, Bolzano, Italy, 3-7 September, 2018..
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Principals Experience And Sensemaking Of A Collaboration With Private Companies As A Vehicle For School Improvement
2018 (English)Conference paper, Oral presentation with published abstract (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

This paper aims to explore principals experience and sensemaking of a school collaboration with private companies from the local community of the school in a Swedish setting. Collaboration within educational settings continues to gain more and more attention as school networks, chains, partnerships. Broadening professional learning communities have been introduced in a number of educational settings around the world (Ainscow, 2016; Chapman et al., 2016; Muijs et al., 2010). Research imply that these approaches to school improvement could establish a valuable platform for professional collaboration and improvement in schools (e.g. Cordingley, 2015; Muijs, 2008) as well as being enablers of internal capacity building in schools (Hargreaves and Fullan, 2012). This is in line with Ainscow (2016), who argues that the aim must be to “move knowledge around” and the best way to do this is through strengthening collaboration within schools, between schools and beyond schools. 

In Sweden, there has been an intention to improve school through collaborative structures, shared responsibility and collective learning that promote collaboration since the governmental investigation of the school-working environment in 1974 (SOU, 1974:53), and the introduction of the 1980 national curriculum. Today, teacher teams are an ‘institutionalized practice’ in most Swedish schools, but the meaning of the collaboration can vary greatly (Blossing & Ekholm, 2008). Despite that, there still seems to remain a individualistic culture in the Swedish school system. Municipalities, schools, principals and teachers are used to working relatively “isolated” without collaboration with the outside world (Björkman, 2008; OECD, 2015; Nordholm, 2015).

Today, Swedish school principals are responsible for school improvement and for creating conditions for teaching and learning so that all students reach their educational goals. National policy states that Swedish principals act as pedagogical leaders with focus on the national curriculum to increase teachers’ capacity in relation to teaching and learning and to create a learning environment (Bredeson & Johansson, 2000). The principal's responsibility for proper school development has been strengthened in the new Education Act from 2010 compared to the previous (Jarl, 2013) and it clarifies the principal's responsibility, authorities, and decision-making right. Still, both Swedish (e.g., Blossing & Ekholm, 2008; Larsson, 2004) and international studies (e.g., Hargreaves & Fink, 2006; Lambert, 2007) have highlighted difficulties in bringing about learning and sustainable school improvement in local schools. The importance of leadership for increased learning and improvement in schools are well known and emphasized in research (Hargreaves & Fink, 2006; Leithwood et al, 2006). The study leans on the theory of communities of practice (Wenger 1998) and sensemaking theory (Weick, 1995, 2001). The purpose of this study is to examine principals experiences and sensemaking of a school collaboration with private companies from the local community of the school, focusing on leadership and school improvement. The research questions that frame the study are: 

-       How do principals experience and make sense of a school collaboration with private companies? 

-       How can the outcomes of the collaboration be understood in terms of possibilities and challenges?

 

 

Methodology or Methods/research (Length up to 400 words)

The study employed a qualitative case study design with a purposive sampling method in order to include schools working with companies in the framework of a collaborative improvement project. The present study aimed at examining principals experience and sensemaking of a school collaboration with private companies from the local community of the school, focusing on leadership and school improvement. In order to solve the problem in this study, a contextual depth is required. According to Stake (1995, p. 16) a case study allows it: "In qualitative case study, we seek greater understanding of the case, we want to appreciate the uniqueness and complexity, its embeddedness and interaction with its contexts."This is in line with Yin (2007), who mean case studies as a research strategy is based on wanting to explore an area in depth, focusing on how and why (Yin, 2007). The case in this study, ‘the quintan’(Stake 1995, 2006) was thebeyond schoolcollaborationbetween three schools and three mentor companies, and was pre-selected to study (Stake, 1995). This work is an “intrinsic case study” (Stake, 1995), which is typically undertaken to learn about a unique phenomenon, and this case is understood as a unique phenomenon. 

 

Data was collected over a period of three years (2012-2015) and mainly consisted of semi-structured individual interviews with the principals of the schools. Project meeting notes, field observations, field notes, and document analysis was also used in order to create a ‘thick description’ of the case. The 16 interviews were conducted in the beginning, middle and in the end of the collaboration, lasted about 50-70 minutes each and concerned questions about: school organizations, distribution of labour and job sharing, how the schools and the companies collaborates, and other external collaborations between the schools and the surrounding community. The nature of the interviews changed during the course of collaboration, from the focus on the school and the conditions for collaboration to the development of collaboration with the companies and, ultimately, on how the collaboration went and what it contributed to. All interviews were recorded and saved as separate digital audio files and then transcribed verbatim. The Atlas.ti 6.2 software tool was used to organise the interviews in the process of data analysis. Qualitative content analysis has been used for the analysis of this study and the collected empirical data was analysed using within-case analysis (Miles et al., 2014).

 

 

Conclusions, Expected Outcomes or Findings (Length up to 300 words)

The findings illuminate three areas of interest: (a) collaborative structure (b) collaborative culture, and (c) emerging professional learning communities. A core story was formulated based on the themes and categories in order to elucidate the principals’ experiences and sensemaking of the collaboration between schools and private companies. One concluding remark so far is that the collaboration has created awareness among the principals and also demonstrated the practical possibilities of school collaboration and working with the surrounding community more in general. The final conclusions of the study will be presented at the conference. Implications for further research will be considered. For European educational research, this is one essential matter as it can be seen as a contribution to valuable knowledge about key factors for principals and schools work with school improvement and in a Nordic context, for both practitioners and policy makers. 

 

   

 

 

References (up to 400 words)

Ainscow, M. (2016), “Collaboration as a strategy for promoting equity in education: possibilities and barriers”, Journal of Professional Capital and Community, Vol. 1 No. 2, pp. 159-172.

Björkman, C. (2008). Internal Capacities for School Improvement – Principals´ views in Swedish Secondary Schools. (Doctoral thesis, Umeå University).

Blossing, U. & Ekholm, M. (2008). A central school reform program in Sweden and the local response: Taking the long term view works. Urban Education 43(6): 624–652.

Bredeson, P. & Johansson, O. (2000). The school principal’s role in teacher professional development. Journal of In-Service Education 26(2): 385–389.

Chapman, C., Chestnutt, H., Friel, N., Hall, S. and Lowden, K. (2016), “Professional capital and collaborative inquiry networks for educational equity and improvement?”, Journal of Professional Capital and Community, Vol. 1 No. 3, pp. 178-197.

Cordingley, P. (2015), “The contribution of research to teachers’ professional learning and development”, Oxford Review of Education, Vol. 41 No. 2, pp. 234-252. 

Hargreaves, A., & Fink, D. (2006). Sustainable Leadership. San Fransisco: Jossey-Bass.

Hargreaves, A. and Fullan, M. (2012), Professional Capital: Transforming Teaching in Every School, Teachers College Press, New York, NY.

Jarl, M. (2013). Rektors pedagogiska ledarskap i ljuset av skolans managementreformer. Pedagogisk Forskning i Sverige, 18(3-4), 197- 215. 

Lambert, L. (2007). Lasting leadership: Towards sustainable school improvement. Journal of Educational Change 8(4): 311–322. 

Larsson, P. (2004). Förändringens villkor. En studie av organisatoriskt lärande och förändring inom skolan. (Doctoral thesis). Stockholm: EFI, Ekonomiska forskningsinstitutet vid Handelshögskolan i Stockholm.

Leithwood, K., Day, C., Sammons, P., Harris, A., & Hopkins, D. (2006). Seven strong claims about successful school leadership. National College for School Leadership. 

Muijs, D., West, M., & Ainscow, M. (2010). Why network? Theoretical perspectives on networking, School Effectiveness and School Improvement, 21:1, 5-26.

Nordholm, Daniel (2015). Organising for school improvement at the middle tier: studies on temporary organisation. Diss. (sammanfattning) Göteborg : Göteborgs universitet, 2015

OECD (2015). Improving Schools in Sweden. An OECD perspective. Paris: OECD.

Stake, R. E. (2006). Multiple Case Study Analysis. New York, London: The Guilford Press.

Weick, K. E. (1995). Sensemaking in organizations. Thousand Oaks; CA: Sage. 

Weick, K. E. (2001). Making sense of the organization. Malden, MA: Blackwell. 

Wenger, E. (1998), Communities of Practice: Learning, Meaning, and Identity, Cambridge University Press, New York, NY. 

Yin, R. K. (2007). Fallstudier: design och genomförande. (P. Söderholm övers.). Malmö: Liber.

National Category
Pedagogy
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:miun:diva-34843 (URN)
Conference
Paper presented at the ECER 2018 - The European Conference of Educational Research: Inclusion and Exclusion, Resources for Educational Research?, Bolzano, Italy, 3-7 September, 2018.
Available from: 2018-10-31 Created: 2018-10-31 Last updated: 2018-11-12Bibliographically approved
Sahlin, S., Ince, A. & Þórólfsson, M. (2018). Teacher Professional Learning As A Response To Issues Of Teacher Retention And Recruitment: Perspectives From Iceland, Sweden And England. In: : . Paper presented at Paper presented in a symposium at the ECER 2018 - The European Conference of Educational Research: Inclusion and Exclusion, Resources for Educational Research?, Bolzano, Italy, 3-7 September, 2018..
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Teacher Professional Learning As A Response To Issues Of Teacher Retention And Recruitment: Perspectives From Iceland, Sweden And England
2018 (English)Conference paper, Oral presentation with published abstract (Refereed)
National Category
Pedagogy
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:miun:diva-34844 (URN)
Conference
Paper presented in a symposium at the ECER 2018 - The European Conference of Educational Research: Inclusion and Exclusion, Resources for Educational Research?, Bolzano, Italy, 3-7 September, 2018.
Available from: 2018-10-31 Created: 2018-10-31 Last updated: 2018-11-05Bibliographically approved
Sahlin, S. (2017). Collaborative partnerships and school leadership to enhance internal capacity building in schools – theoretical considerations. In: : . Paper presented at 30th ICSEI International Congress for School Effectiveness and Improvement, 7-10 Jan, 2017, Ottawa, Canada.
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Collaborative partnerships and school leadership to enhance internal capacity building in schools – theoretical considerations
2017 (English)Conference paper, Poster (with or without abstract) (Refereed)
National Category
Pedagogy
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:miun:diva-30252 (URN)
Conference
30th ICSEI International Congress for School Effectiveness and Improvement, 7-10 Jan, 2017, Ottawa, Canada
Available from: 2017-02-23 Created: 2017-02-23 Last updated: 2018-11-12Bibliographically approved
Sahlin, S. & Björkman, C. (2017). Principals leadership as an internal capacity for school improvement - principals and teachers views in three Swedish schools. In: : . Paper presented at 30th ICSEI International Congress for School Effectiveness and Improvement, Ottawa, Canada 7-10 Jan 2017.
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Principals leadership as an internal capacity for school improvement - principals and teachers views in three Swedish schools
2017 (English)Conference paper, Oral presentation with published abstract (Refereed)
National Category
Pedagogy
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:miun:diva-30250 (URN)
Conference
30th ICSEI International Congress for School Effectiveness and Improvement, Ottawa, Canada 7-10 Jan 2017
Available from: 2017-02-23 Created: 2017-02-23 Last updated: 2017-02-24Bibliographically approved
Sahlin, S. (2017). Principals leadership to enhance internal capacity building in schools through collaborative partnerships.. In: : . Paper presented at 30th ICSEI International Congress for School Effectiveness and Improvement, Ottawa, Canada 7-10 Jan 2017.
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Principals leadership to enhance internal capacity building in schools through collaborative partnerships.
2017 (English)Conference paper, Oral presentation with published abstract (Refereed)
National Category
Pedagogy
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:miun:diva-30249 (URN)
Conference
30th ICSEI International Congress for School Effectiveness and Improvement, Ottawa, Canada 7-10 Jan 2017
Available from: 2017-02-23 Created: 2017-02-23 Last updated: 2017-02-24Bibliographically approved
Ince, A. & Sahlin, S. (2017). Professional learning implications for Higher Education Institutions, schools and teachers from Masters level programmes in England and Sweden. In: : . Paper presented at ECER2017 – The European Conference of Educational Research: Reforming Education and the Imperative of Constant Change: Ambivalent roles of policy and educational research, Copenhagen, Denmark, 22-25 August 2017..
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Professional learning implications for Higher Education Institutions, schools and teachers from Masters level programmes in England and Sweden
2017 (English)Conference paper, Oral presentation with published abstract (Refereed)
Keywords
teacher professional learning, Masters programmes
National Category
Pedagogy Pedagogy
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:miun:diva-32246 (URN)
Conference
ECER2017 – The European Conference of Educational Research: Reforming Education and the Imperative of Constant Change: Ambivalent roles of policy and educational research, Copenhagen, Denmark, 22-25 August 2017.
Available from: 2017-12-05 Created: 2017-12-05 Last updated: 2017-12-20Bibliographically approved
Sahlin, S. (2016). School-University Collaboration – A Way To Build Internal Capacities for School Improvement? A Swedish Case Study. In: : . Paper presented at ECER 2016 "Leading Education: The Distinct Contributions of Educational Research and Researchers", Dublin, Irland, 22-26 August, 2016..
Open this publication in new window or tab >>School-University Collaboration – A Way To Build Internal Capacities for School Improvement? A Swedish Case Study
2016 (English)Conference paper, Oral presentation with published abstract (Refereed)
Keywords
school improvement; capacity building; internal capacities, school-university collaboration, collaborative approaches to school improvement
National Category
Pedagogy
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:miun:diva-29575 (URN)
Conference
ECER 2016 "Leading Education: The Distinct Contributions of Educational Research and Researchers", Dublin, Irland, 22-26 August, 2016.
Available from: 2016-12-14 Created: 2016-12-14 Last updated: 2016-12-16Bibliographically approved
Sahlin, S. (2015). Combining a thesis and an evaluation mission in a school development and research project - methodological considerations. In: : . Paper presented at NERA 43rd Congress, Marketisation and Differentiation in Education, Gothenburg, 4-6 March 2015.
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Combining a thesis and an evaluation mission in a school development and research project - methodological considerations
2015 (English)Conference paper, Oral presentation with published abstract (Refereed)
Keywords
school development, evaluation, methodology, case study design
National Category
Pedagogy
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:miun:diva-24399 (URN)
Conference
NERA 43rd Congress, Marketisation and Differentiation in Education, Gothenburg, 4-6 March 2015
Available from: 2015-02-19 Created: 2015-02-19 Last updated: 2015-05-18Bibliographically approved
Sahlin, S. (2015). Entrepreneurship as capacity building in three schools. In: : . Paper presented at EERA: ECER 2015 "Education and Transition. Contributions from Educational Research", Budapest Hungary.
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Entrepreneurship as capacity building in three schools
2015 (English)Conference paper, Oral presentation with published abstract (Refereed)
Keywords
school improvement, capacity building, internal capacities, entrepreneurship
National Category
Pedagogy
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:miun:diva-26352 (URN)
Conference
EERA: ECER 2015 "Education and Transition. Contributions from Educational Research", Budapest Hungary
Available from: 2015-12-02 Created: 2015-12-02 Last updated: 2015-12-07Bibliographically approved
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