In this study, we followed a group of approximately 140 Head Teachers of schools for Basic Education in Rwanda. The Head teachers participated in a professional development trajectory on school leadership, and were randomly assigned to four experimental groups that received (A) training and coaching; (B) coaching only (C) training only or (D) no training or coaching at all. Next to the research question if professional development trajectories like these have impact the other question was which of the above described approaches is most cost-effective.
Head teachers have a crucial impact on the quality of education. Through influence on their staff, effective school leaders improve teaching and learning, and thus indirectly learning outcomes of pupils. The project is based on this ‘domino-effect’: the ‘first stones’ are being pushed in the sense that Sector Education Officers (SEO’s) and Head Teachers (HT’s) are familiarized with the latest theory on effective school leadership and SEO’s are trained to coach HT’s to become more effective School Leaders. The ultimate objective is to improve pupils’ learning achievement. Since the available time in this project was too short to expect results at the level of the last stone in the domino (at the level of pupils’ learning achievement), a number of indicators were formulated at the level of the other levels in the domino. Summarizing intermediate effects at the level of SEO’s, HT’s, Teachers and pupils were described and affiliated indicators were formulated. Furthermore per level the research methodologies are described and the outcomes of the distinct research were discussed and interpreted.
As was expected at the level of primary school pupils no evidence was found that the exam results of schools led by Head Teachers from experimental groups differ from the control group.
For pupils’ learning conceptions, although there were some significant differences found between the different experimental groups, those were difficult to interpret since there was little consistency in these differences. Pupils in schools with HT from group A are more in agreement with a development orientation and with external regulation than the other experimental groups and the control group D. Further research is needed to find out whether this combination of subscales is actually predicting higher learning achievements of pupils.