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Leadership Development Framework

The approach utilised in this project links quality of performance to a person’s competence and then synthesises evidence to produce a developmental framework that can be linked to learning needs and appropriate professional development strategies.

A standards referenced framework links developmental learning and assessment to procedures for monitoring skill and competence levels. In many studies, the development of professional skills has been treated as a broad accumulation of discrete skills that lack an underlying developmental approach. Since the early 1980s however, the view has been adopted that such skills are acquired progressively, become increasingly sophisticated, and demand increasing amounts of ability. The notion of developmental stages has been proposed; for example, Dreyfus and Dreyfus (1986) proposed stages from novice to competent and expert. Sometimes it is argued that a focus on stages hides some of the important aspects of development but such criticisms make an assumption that the stages or levels are discrete steps without intra level variation. This is an incorrect interpretation. The levels in a standards referenced framework are based on the identification of thresholds along a continuum of increasing competence, and the transition from one level to another is defined by at times minute increments in competence.

An issue with stage development interpretations has been lack of attention to the identification of appropriate interventions at each level; to some extent this issue is associated with the assumption that levels defined by development imply confinement to level. To inform this issue, the work of Glaser, Rasch and Vygotsky is called upon. Vygotsky’s zone of proximal development (ZPD) is especially important as it can be identified in the context of a stage on a continuum of increasing competence proposed by Glaser as the framework for criterion referenced interpretation of development. The application of Rasch analysis enables the ZPD to be located. The ZPD is the distance between the actual developmental level and the outer potential level that could be achieved through guidance from others, or collaboration with more capable peers (Vygotsky, 1978). The ZPD defines a band of competence development that learners can navigate with the aid of a supportive context, which may include assistance from others. In this project this concept has important implications for mentoring among leaders and aspiring leaders.

This project takes a particular view of competence and its assessment. The interpretation of competence links quality of performance to a person’s capacity to perform a task. Leadership needs, appropriate developmental intervention strategies, and policy and planning decisions based on evidence, are embedded in a developmental framework. The framework can then be used to inform appropriate contributions to teaching and learning at any level.