Department chairs in teaching universities and community colleges are typically hired from the ranks of professors. Yet, leading an educational program might require a different skill set than teaching or coordinating a course. Our newest paper, recently presented at the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association, discusses the role of department chair as educational leader. Literature on transformational leadership, instructional leadership and leadership in post-secondary education, identified the following as important contributors to leading teaching and learning:
- Leading teaching excellence:
Considering individual instructors’ needs and contributing to improved teaching and learning through the provision and promotion of and participation in high quality, relevant teacher professional development and evaluation of teaching performance;
- Leading quality curriculum:
Defining and sharing the curriculum purpose, promoting external and internal collaboration with curriculum stakeholders, coordinating curriculum development activities;
- Leading an optimal student learning environment:
Effectively managing educational resources and program specific student guidance, instructions and regulations;
- Building and communicating a shared vision:
Including setting expectations and goals for teaching and learning;
- Assuring program quality:
Evaluating program success and implementing improvement where needed (through collecting information about graduate satisfaction, student graduation rates, student performance on provincial or national exams, student employment rates, employer satisfaction with graduate performance, etcetera).
The paper further explores how leaders in five departments from three institutes conceptualize and enact their role as educational leaders of their departments.