Principals’ and teaching research group leaders’ perceptions of teaching research group leaders’ engagement in curriculum leadership in Chinese secondary schools

Yiming SHAN

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Theses


The global trend of decentralisation in education empowers schools and teachers to have more autonomy in making instructional decisions. Influenced by the implementation of the new curriculum reform (NCR) and the three-level curriculum management policy in China, teachers supposedly have more authority in curriculum decision-making. Although many studies on curriculum leadership (CL) have been conducted, there is still a scant amount of studies focusing on understanding of teachers’ engagement in CL. This is especially the case in the Chinese setting. This research thus aims to explore principals’ and Teaching Research Group (TRG) leaders’ perceptions of TRG leaders’ engagement in CL and compare their perceptions to explore similarities and differences. TRG leaders are the backbone teachers chosen from the corpus of front-line teachers, therefore, it is critical to investigate their engagement in CL.

A qualitative research approach was deployed using interviews, observations, documents and field notes. Interviews were adopted as the main source of data to investigate how 10 principals and 20 TRG leaders understand TRG leaders’ engagement in CL in secondary schools in Taiyuan City, Shanxi Province, China. Content analysis was employed to analyse the data in Nvivo 10.

The findings are grouped into five major categories, namely, general understanding of CL; enacting CL at the organisational level; at the classroom level; at the social relationship level; and at the personal level. The study identified that the term CL is rather new to some principals and to most of the TRG leaders. In particular, findings show that TRG leaders’ autonomy in taking initiatives for curriculum matters is limited at all levels although they have been assumed to be taking the role of TRG leader. Importantly, this research developed a conceptual model of TRG leaders’ engagement in CL in the Chinese context which consisted of four dimensions: (1) framing/planning goals at the organisational level, (2) coordinating curriculum at the classroom level, (3) building relationships with stakeholders at the social relationship level, and (4) prompting individual development at the personal level. The findings of this research bring significant contributions to the theoretical knowledge base, to practice, and to policymaking. The development of a model serves to present a conceptual framework to explicate teachers’ involvement in CL in the context of Chinese secondary schools, thus broadening the knowledge base of teachers’ engagement in CL internationally and locally.

The findings of this research will assist researchers and principals in realising the challenges that TRG leaders encounter and propose the possible solutions in the Chinese context. Moreover, the findings will also provide implications for TRG leaders’ preparation. In addition, the research contributes to refining the initiatives of empowering teachers in curriculum decision-makings in curriculum reform. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Education
Awarding Institution
  • The Education University of Hong Kong
  • CHEN, Junjun 陳君君, Supervisor
  • WALKER, Allan David 汪雅量, Supervisor
Award date27 Aug 2017
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • Curriculum leadership
  • TRG leaders
  • Principals
  • Theses and Dissertations
  • Thesis (Ed.D.)--The Education University of Hong Kong, 2017.


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