Educational Administration, Leadership, and Research Faculty Publications


Original publication information:

Houchens, G. W., & Keedy, J. L. (2009). Theories of practice: Understanding the practice of educational leadership. Journal of Thought 44, 49-61.


Argyris and Schön (1974) first articulated the concept of theories of practice, and elements of the concept have become standard vocabulary in literature on organizational learning. Relatively few empirical studies, however, have explored the legitimacy of this concept for understanding how educators approach problems in their professional practice (Lipshitz, 2000). As accountability pressures for school improvement mount, the imperative for understanding effective school leadership behaviors makes the concept of theories of practice more appealing. The purpose of this article is to examine the structure of theories of practice as understood by Argyris and Schön and the implications for understanding the cognitive processes and behaviors that constitute effective instructional leadership in schools. The authors discuss a recent case study of successful school principals that mapped the principals’ theories of practice of instructional leadership. The study illustrates the usefulness of the theory of practice framework for both research and improving professional practice (Houchens, 2008).


Education | Educational Administration and Supervision | Educational Leadership