“Walking the talk”: The influence of an introduction to cognitive education on school leaders

  • Karen Collett
  • Lena Green
Keywords: cognitive development, cognitive education, community of enquiry pedagogy, curriculum leadership, experiential learning, leadership development


The current emphasis on curriculum leadership implies the need to update school leaders’ pedagogical knowledge. This paper will interest local and international readers because it highlights both essential content and the importance of the pedagogy employed to convey it. The study explored the initial effects of an introduction to Cognitive Education on the understandings of curriculum of school leaders engaged in post-graduate study. Using a qualitative research approach informed by a social constructivist paradigm, it accessed 29 participants’ perceptions of the course content and methodology. Data included participant observer field-notes, questionnaires, and focus group interviews. Data was thematically analysed and key themes identified using ‘content’ and ‘process’ of the short course as initial categories. Findings indicated that new knowledge regarding intellectual (cognitive) development was valued, as were active modelling of cognitive education strategies, engagement with one another as a social community of enquiry, and opportunities for reflection and practice. The process categories reflected several of the characteristics highlighted as important in the professional development and cognitive education literature. Discussion focuses on the importance of the active ‘teaching of thinking’ within the curriculum and on the urgent need to pay attention to how the curriculum is delivered at all levels of education, including the new Advanced Diploma for School Leadership and related leadership development courses.

Keywords: cognitive development; cognitive education; community of enquiry pedagogy; curriculum leadership; experiential learning; leadership development


Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 2076-3433
print ISSN: 0256-0100