A narrative inquiry into the experiences of a leadership group working towards collective efficacy in a regional faith-based school

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Schiele, Helen (2021) A narrative inquiry into the experiences of a leadership group working towards collective efficacy in a regional faith-based school. Other Degree thesis, Victoria University.


The narration of the inquiry is an actual account of a leadership’s way of knowing their world and their relationship to, and within it. Inviting current educational and self-nominated theories to be deconstructed and reconstructed via their internal contexts required for their educational partnerships. Highlighting how issues of power and spiritual representation are central in the pedagogical shift, from self to collective efficacy which informs the educational practices as seen within a faith-based regional school. The work framed within a narrative methodology combined with an insider researchers’ perspective, acknowledged, and built upon a coexisting working relationship with a school community. The work carried out over a two-year period was explored through a series of conversations. Stimulating debate, enabling reflection in action and a reflexive practice to be explored by the leadership group and the researcher as a boundary rider to the leadership’s thinking landscape. A landscape within the field text is one that centers and grounds the philosophical, ideological, and often emotional elements of the character’s working schemas within the narrative. The traditional role of the boundary rider, is one who moves between fence lines, checking for strength and validity of structure. Here too, I see the role of a boundary rider as one who will be moving between the field texts, the rich dialogue shared and within the studies texts. Each provide a differing landscape of ideas, often setting not only a theme but highlighting the core elements that bound and curtail the ideas and stories shared. These elements of focus were clearly annotated and prescribed in seeking and gaining Ethics Approval from Victoria University HRE-18-043. The work focused on four core aims (which will be seen as the purpose or the intention of the inquiry) or questions of the inquiry: 1. Research and theorise the modes of pedagogical practice within a faith-based school. 2. Through the data curated, to assist the development of understanding collective efficacy. 3. To theorise the role of an insider researcher within the inquiry. 4. Reference a semiotic approach, thus enabling the researcher to unpack the conceptual threads of religious dogma. Which in turn contributes to the human knowledge needed in supporting a development of an expert system. Which may be transferred to other cultural contexts and furthered aligned to the significance of education within a faith-based school. The work produced four themes, a set of ideas, that is further analysed within the theorised findings of the thesis. These were not seen as constituting an end point of the research, rather a continued discussion for the researched group. Focusing on collective leadership, the work noted the impacts and tensions for what would be coined as a ‘religious difficulty’ as evidence within the researched faith-based setting. The work explored these ideas and concepts through a reflexive narrative lens noting, value in the concept and that learning is facilitated by knowledgeable others. What shifted within the work is not just the importance of time but rather the naming of the lived tension between the religious institution and that of the idea and ideal of faith, framed within an educative lens. It is these values and emerging trends or tendencies or working inclinations, that became evident through the field texts curated, to gain a collective efficacious shift in how the researched school could move forward in its aspirational goals for excellence, be it purely academic or fully immersed within a holistic / spiritual curriculum. The work, in capturing the wonderings, and reflexive actions of the group, assisted a modality of systems thinking to be explored within the discussion chapter. Extending this thinking, constructed a dyadic mode of a re-imagined social semiotic artifacts, which is articulated as a symbolic key finding of the work.

Additional Information

Doctor of Education

Item type Thesis (Other Degree thesis)
URI https://vuir.vu.edu.au/id/eprint/42976
Subjects Current > FOR (2020) Classification > 3901 Curriculum and pedagogy
Current > FOR (2020) Classification > 3904 Specialist studies in education
Current > Division/Research > College of Arts and Education
Keywords religiously; spirituality; collective; efficacy; praxis; habitus; reflexivity; reflexive; semiotic; pedagogies; discourse; socio-cultural; narration; entropy; educational practice
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