Developing Equity and Social Justice Leaders in Educational Leadership Preparation Programs: A Three-Manuscript Analysis of Program Practices, Faculty Pedagogy, and Conceptualizations of Social Justice Leadership

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Moraguez, Daniel, Education - School of Education and Human Development, University of Virginia
Dexter, Sara, ED-EDLF Department, University of Virginia

This dissertation is comprised of three manuscripts and presents a line of research aimed at contributing to the development of aspiring leaders’ social justice competences in hopes of improving the educational experiences of historically marginalized students in U.S. public schools.
The first manuscript examines educational leadership preparation program emphases, pedagogical approaches, and needs regarding equity and social justice competence development. This study elicited program coordinators’ perceptions on four key social justice competences and found they were optimistic about their capacity to develop aspiring leaders for effective practice in diverse contexts. Analysis of the data, however, revealed disparities between reported emphasis and pedagogies, suggesting the preparation may lack theoretical grounding and the transformative learning experiences capable of developing equity and social justice leadership competences. The study captured the contemporary preparation program landscape and provides a moment-in-time snapshot which will serve the field as a benchmark point for comparison in future research.
The second manuscript systematically reviewed the empirical research on social justice leadership to understand how the field of educational leadership defines and frames the disruptive leadership orientation. The literature search of peer-reviewed journals from 2010 to 2021 yielded 25 empirical research studies of relevance to the topic. Analysis of the literature identified precursors to social justice leadership, a better understanding of its applied definition, as well as insight into how leaders develop social justice leadership orientations. The findings include that the field “defines” social justice leadership as leadership that recognizes the unequal circumstances of marginalized groups in schools due to race, class, gender, disability, sexual orientation (and other historically and currently marginalized conditions), and acts to eliminate those inequalities by redistributing resources and fighting injustice for the ultimate aim of creating equitable schools and advancing human rights. The findings also reveal a coherent or commonly-held definition would only go so far in bringing the field closer to providing ideal support for social justice leadership competence development.
The third manuscript is a multi-case study of preparation program faculty that explores the relationship between faculty mindsets and instructional design to understand how equity and social justice learning experiences become manifest. The findings reveal a strong relationship between faculty equity and social justice commitments and their approaches to their courses. Faculty continuously make slight changes to activities to further align the course with their mindsets and utilize discourse, simulations, and case studies to complement a core group of assignments. The faculty in each case were influenced by their backgrounds and lived experiences in prioritizing what was most important and central to their commitments. In case one, that was observed in the ways he challenged dominant structures and centered students and scholars of color. In case two, that was observed in the ways she emphasized equity for all school stakeholders. In case three, that was observed in the ways he developed awareness of sociopolitical contexts and how those contexts would influence leadership decision making.

PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
leadership, social justice leadership, principals, principal preparation
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