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Research and Evaluation

Our Approach

Using a range of methodological approaches and anchoring our work in appropriate conceptual tools, we engage in applied research that generates actionable and consequential findings for the field of education/educational leadership as well as for practitioners and policy makers.  

Current Research
EXAMINING ORGANIZATIONAL CAPACITY DEVELOPMENT FOR THE IMPROVEMENT OF K-8 MATHEMATICS INSTRUCTION AND STUDENT THROUGH PROJECT CASPIR
 

Funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and beginning Summer 2019, Cosner and an interdisciplinary team of UIC-researchers (CUEL, College of Education, Learning Sciences Research institute) are enacting and testing a multi-level (district, school) intervention designed to develop the kinds of organizational capacities of consequence for the improvement of mathematics teaching and student learning.


EXAMINING SCHOOL LEADER DEVELOPMENT IN EASTERN AND DEVELOPING GLOBAL CONTEXTS/INDIA
Funded by the Qatar Foundation beginning Spring 2019, Cosner is leading one of five research teams that are examining leadership development programs/approaches in five Eastern developing countries (India, South Africa, Morocco, Kenya, & Lebanon). The goal of this research is to learn about these educational contexts and existing development programs and to make recommendations that will inform international leadership development investments and policies, particularly for Eastern and developing countries. Members of this international research project convened in Paris in February 2019 to plan for this study.
Cosner traveled to Mumbai India in August 2019 for data collection associated with the India School Leadership Institute (ISLI).
 
 
Cross case analysis is occurring Fall 2019. In November 2019 and January 2020 Cosner will travel to Qatar and Morocco to present research findings and recommendations to inform international leadership development investments and policies.

INVESTIGATING THE CONTINUOUS IMPROVEMENT APPROACHES OF A “BIG CITY” CEO

Funded by the Fry and Crown Foundations and beginning Summer 2019, this study uses organizational learning and continuous improvement as tools to conceptually frame this study. Whalen is currently leading this investigation into the leadership practices associated with, impacts of, and challenges encountered from a “big city” Chief Executive Officer’s continuous improvement approach to system-level leadership.

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EXAMINING ASPIRING AND PRACTICING SCHOOL LEADER COACHING

Funded by the US Department of Education and the Fry Foundation and using tools, routines, and social networks, and learning processes as anchoring conceptual frames, Cosner, Whalen, and team are examining the design and impact of leadership coach tools, data systems, and routines on clinical experiences and on leadership coaching practices and outcomes.

First phase publications from this work include the following:

Cosner, S., Walker, L., Swanson J., Hebert, M., & Whalen, S. (2018). Examining the architecture of leadership coaching: Considering developmental affordances from multifarious structuring. Journal of Educational Administration, 56(3), 364-380.


EXAMINING EFFECTIVE PRINCIPLE PRACTICE

Funded by the Fry Foundation, Whalen is currently leading an investigation into the distributed leadership capacity development work of school leaders.


INVESTIGATING ACTIVIST SCHOOL LEADERSHIP IN A “BIG CITY” CONTEXT

Using activism and leadership for social justice as conceptual tools, Salisbury and team are examining the approaches of more activist oriented school leaders in a “big city” setting and the context factors that motivate and shape their action and approaches.

First phase publications from this work include the following:

Salisbury, J., Richard, M., & Cosner, S. (2019). Merging schools and communities: Engaging in activist leadership beyond your school walls. In J. Brooks, T. Watson, & A. Heffernan (Eds.), The school leadership survival guide: What to do when things go wrong, how to learn from mistakes, and why you should prepare for the worst. Charlotte, NC: Information Age Publishing.

 

Key Past Research and Evaluation
Examining Affordances of Active Learning Leader Development Designs

Funded by the US Department of Education and using situated learning theory, Cosner and team examined the situational learning resources harnessed through an active learning leader development design and identified authentic leadership considerations and actions that are enabled.

Cosner, S., De Voto, C., & Andry Rah’man, A. (2018). Harnessing the school context as a learning resource in school leader development. Journal of Research on Leadership Education, 13(3), 238-255.

 


Examining Aspiring and Practicing School Leader Coaching

Funded by the US Department of Education and the Fry Foundation and both situational learning and social network theories, Cosner and team examined the design and impact of leadership coach structuring on leadership coaching practices and outcomes.

Cosner, S., Walker, L., Swanson J., Hebert, M., & Whalen, S. (2018). Examining the architecture of leadership coaching: Considering developmental affordances from multifarious structuring. Journal of Educational Administration, 56(3), 364-380.

 


Examining Collaborative Data Practices by Teacher Teams and Leadership for Collaborative Data Practices

Funded by Chicago Community Trust, Cosner in collaboration with Susan Goldman (subject matter learning, instruction, assessment) and Taffy Rafael (literacy), examined grade-level collaborative data use and the administrative and teacher leadership supports of data use in urban elementary schools.

Cosner, S. (2011). Supporting the initiation and early development of evidence- based grade-level collaboration in urban elementary schools: Key roles and strategies of principals and literacy coordinators. Urban Education, 46(4), 786-827.

Cosner, S. (2011). Teacher learning, instructional considerations, and principal communication: Lessons from a longitudinal study of collaborative date use by teachers. Educational Management Administration & Leadership, 39(5), 568-589.

Cosner, S. (2012). Leading the on-going development of collaborative data practices: Advancing a schema for diagnosis and intervention. Leadership and Policy in Schools, 11(1), 26-65.

Cosner, S. (2014). Cultivating collaborative data practices as a schoolwide improvement strategy: A phase-based model of school Leadership supports. Journal of School Leadership, 24(4), 692-724.

Cosner, S., Walker, L., Swanson J., Hebert, M., & Whalen, S. (2018). Examining the architecture of leadership coaching: Considering developmental affordances from multifarious structuring. Journal of Educational Administration,56(3), 364-380.

 


Investigating Effective Principal Practices

With funding from Chicago’s Fry Foundation as well as the U.S. Department of Education, CUEL has sustained a program of case study and documentary research to inform the preparation of school leaders in Chicago and across the country.

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Evaluating the Ounce’s Professional Development Initiative

Beginning in fall 2011 CUEL conducted a three year evaluation of the Ounce of Prevention Fund’s new Professional Development Initiative (PDI), with funding from the US Department of Education’s Investing in Innovation (i3) Initiative (See Executive Summary). The project expanded our capacity to study education leadership in early childhood settings and led to a scale-up of PDI across Illinois.

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Research Dissemination

Center staff and faculty affiliates disseminate their work to peer-reviewed and scholarly outlets across a range of topics. Here is a listing of such publications from 2011 to 2019:

By year

By topic