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Individuals and Leadership in an Australian Secondary Science Department: A Qualitative Study

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Journal of Science Education and Technology Volume 16, Number 6, ISSN 1059-0145


In this article, we consider the complex and dynamic inter-relationships between individual science teachers, the social space of their work and their dispositions towards teacher leadership. Research into the representation of school science departments through individual science teachers is scarce. We explore the representations of four individual teachers to the assertions of teacher leadership proposed by Silva et al. (Teach Coll Rec, 102(4):779-804, 2000). These representations, expressed during regular science department meetings, occur in the social space of Bourdieu's "field" and are a reflection of the "game" of science education being played within the department. This departmentally centred space suggests an important implication when considering the relationship between subject departments and their schools. The development of an individual's representation of teacher leadership and the wider "field" of science education appears to shape the individual towards promoting their own sense of identity as a teacher of science, rather than as a teacher within a school. Our work suggests that for these individuals, the important "game" is science education, not school improvement. Consequently, the subject department may be a missing link between efforts to improve schools and current organizational practices.


Melville, W., Wallace, J. & Bartley, A. (2007). Individuals and Leadership in an Australian Secondary Science Department: A Qualitative Study. Journal of Science Education and Technology, 16(6), 463-472. Retrieved January 22, 2020 from .

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