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Using Concept Mapping to Capture Faith-Based School Leaders' Perspectives of Leadership

By: Published: 2017 | Product: SAGE Research Methods Cases Part 2
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This case study describes how concept mapping can enable researchers to uncover rich depictions of school leaders’ understandings and practices of educational leadership. Concept mapping has been described by William Trochim and Mary Kane as a technique that produces a visual picture or a map of individuals or a group’s ideas. Although the technique has been used to uncover individuals’ beliefs, it is seldom employed in qualitative studies on educational leadership. In this article, I explain my rationale for adopting concept mapping as a data collection tool as well as the considerations and processes for employing concept mapping in my research, which examined faith-based school leaders’ perspectives on educational leadership. In addition, I highlight what I have learned from using concept mapping and provide reflective questions and an activity that will assist researchers in applying this technique effectively to their research. This case study illustrates how this relatively underused data collection method has the potential to enhance the field’s breadth and depth of inquiry. More specifically, this case study should be instructive for researchers who are seeking to understand the day-to-day realities of school leaders’ work and the different contextual factors which impact their work. This is because of the way concept mapping provides participants with an opportunity to convey their perspectives of leadership visually, verbally, and in writing. Thus, by adopting this research method, a researcher could create a more comprehensive picture of a leader’s perspective than by just relying on interviews.

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