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Truth-Seeking or Truth-Claiming? Leaders' Patterns of Social Problem Solving

Fri, April 8, 4:05 to 5:35pm, Convention Center, Level One, Room 149 A

Abstract

The quality of educational leaders’ social problem-solving has consequences for their relationships, effectiveness and the well-being of teachers and students. This paper draws on theories of discourse and interpersonal effectiveness to develop a process model of quality problem-solving, in which quality is indicated by the extent to which leaders publicly test, rather than assume, the validity of their beliefs about their problem. Analyses of 62 conversation transcripts revealed limited evidence that leaders explicitly tested their beliefs, especially beliefs about the problem’s cause. Instead, leaders typically assumed the validity of their causal reasoning and then offered or solicited ideas about how to solve the problem. These findings reveal a considerable mismatch between leaders’ democratic and truth-seeking aspirations and their actual practice.

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