stephanie chitpin
The Project:

Dr. Stephanie Chitpin developed a network called the Peer-to-Peer Network for School Principals (PPNSP) to assist in and advance principals’ knowledge and skills in the area of decision-making. The project aims to bring together principal members with the overall aim at answering the following questions:

- What are the political and social forces influencing principal decision-making processes and outcomes?

- What research evidence currently exists in the area of decision-making skills for school principals?

- How and on what basis do principals make decisions about school improvement?

- What decision-making practices do practitioners perceive as being the most effective?

- To what extent do principals’ decision-making practices demonstrate acceptance of distributed leadership practices?

The Concept – Moving Beyond a Community of Practice:

PPNSP is a broader concept of the Community of Practice in that in addition to the shared learning and interests of its members, it encourages the development of new relationships including researchers, practitioners, policy makers, and researchers involved in the professional development of school principals.

The peer-to-peer network concept is taken from a business model. Canadian Principal Learning Network (CPLN) is broader than the concept of community of practice in that in addition to the shared learning and interests of its members, it encourages the development of new relationships with peers and with academic researchers and policy makers involved in the professional development of school principals.

This decision making model was based on Popper’s philosophy of rationalism an innovative principal decision-making framework OKGF (a framework for principals’ decision-making) was used. The OKGF prompts participants to critically reflect on their beliefs and decision-making strategies, so that their solutions become bolder and sharper in empirical content.

The PPNSP became possible by forming a collaborative learning community with the Renfrew County Catholic District School Board. The development of the Canadian Principal Learning Network (CPLN) website was a substantial outcome and hallmark of success of the Knowledge Network for Applied Education Research (KNAER) project so far.

Developing A Network to Mobilize Knowledge:

This project developed, implemented, and continues to maintain a PPNSP that harnesses and mobilizes research expertise, builds on and strengthens collaboration, and links practice and policy with evidence based research. The network’s function and purpose is for the school principals to effectively connect to a network of researchers and peers where they could discuss/dialogue with each other on issues they are facing as well as accessing information/case studies/ documentation that significantly contribute to their decision-making process.

KMb strategies:

The PPNSP mobilized knowledge in five ways:
(1) A virtual infrastructure: a jointly produced website featuring pertinent problems and solutions that encouraged exchanges, sharing, collaboration, discussion, support, and access to resulting knowledge; an innovative model of reflective professional development.
(2) Online and on-site training sessions;
(3) Support and Involvement from Leading researchers;
(4) A two-day symposium: Canadian Principal Learning Network (CPLN) on School Principals’ Decision-Making Skills (all sessions were recorded and available in the website);
(5) Publication initiatives: an online newsletter, professional journals, website and wikis.

This project developed, implemented, and continues to maintain a PPNSP that harnesses and mobilizes research expertise, builds on and strengthens collaboration, and links practice and policy with evidence based research. The network’s function and purpose is for the school principals to effectively connect to a network of researchers and peers where they could discuss/dialogue with each other on issues they are facing as well as accessing information/case studies/documentation that significantly contribute to their decision-making process.

Moving Forward:

From these learnings and experiences, Dr. Stephanie Chitpin and Dr. Colin Evers forged a book, Decision-Making in Educational Leadership: Principles, Policies, and Practices.

Decision Making book cover

Book Overview: The increased focus on raising standards in education requires leaders to engage in complex decision making about teacher assessment, mandated accountability measures, and the collection and use of large amounts of data. Showcasing exemplary practices of school and district administrators, Decision Making in Educational Leadershipcovers issues concerning the role of emotion, ethical and legal ramifications, the use of data, and complexity in decision making. Chapter authors in this research-based volume explore what administrators and school leaders actually know about educational problems, how they draw upon and revise theories of action for responding to problems, and which theories are tenable in educational decision making. This important resource provides a broad and international perspective on effective models and methods of educational decision making and shares valuable knowledge about how theory can be translated into practice in a variety of school settings.

One of the great strengths of this edited book is that it reflects how different sorts of decisions can require different types of decision-making. That is, the book allows for the possibility that there is no one model that fits, for example: legal decisions, policy decisions, ethical decisions, data-rich decisions and so on. And even where some authors provide general decision-making models, the importance of situational context is considered vital.

Current Book Reviews:

"Both the content and processes of educational reform initiatives are the product of decisions. This text offered a wide ranging set of foundational perspectives about how those decisions are typically made and what educational leaders might do to improve them--a serious tool for the reflective leader." --Kenneth Leithwood, Emeritus Professor, University of Toronto

"In this time of significant educational change across the globe, Chitpin and Evers's volume provides critically important information on the complexity of decision making for today's educational leader. This book is essential reading for anyone interested in a fresh perspective on educational decision making." -- Amanda Datnow, Professor of Education, University of California, San Diego

"In this very readable text, Chitpin and Evers and their team of new and experienced scholars have contributed substantially to our understanding of the decision-making processes used by educational leaders. This book will be very useful to graduate students in educational leadership as they develop their research agendas, to their faculty advisors, to system leaders charged with the responsibility for developing professional development programs, and to school and school system leaders." -- John J. Stapleton, Dean Emeritus of Education, University of Manitoba

"Chitpin and Evers have assembled a volume that does a first-rate job of setting the foundation for thoughtful decision making in school settings. This book provides powerful practical insights for transforming schools into the kinds of places that use data wisely to inform leadership practice and classroom pedagogy." --Sharon D. Kruse, Academic Director and Professor of Educational Leadership, Washington State University Vancouver


To order a copy of the book please visit:

http://www.routledge.com/books/details/9780415843119/

Dr. Stephanie Chitpin,
Associate Professor of Curriculum Teaching and Evaluation, and Organizational Studies
Faculty of Education, University of Ottawa,
Ottawa, Canada
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Website: http://www.education.uottawa.ca/thefaculty/professors?lang=en&ref=detail_prof&id=100612