Roots of Collaborative Inquiry and Generative Dialogue for Educational Leadership




The twin processes of collaborative inquiry and generative dialogue underpin two closely aligned and increasingly influential school leadership development programs, one in Alberta, Canada, and the other in New South Wales, Australia. This paper focuses primarily on the Australian program, the character of which has been strongly influenced by its Canadian predecessor. Of interest in the paper is the nature of the foundations of collaborative inquiry and generative dialogue, and the relationship of these processes to an expressed need for better leadership development in the Australian school sector. David Townsend and Pam Adams, who are principally responsible for generating a school leadership development model based on the use of both collaborative inquiry and generative dialogue, have sought to show how these two processes should function seamlessly, but there is more to be said about the nature of their relationship. This paper seeks to throw more light on the integral role played by generative dialogue in empowering collaborative inquiry in the context of school leadership development.

Keywords: generative dialogue, collaborative inquiry, school leadership, leadership development, educational leadership programs

Les processus jumeaux de l'enquête collaborative et du dialogue génératif sous-tendent deux programmes de développement du leadership scolaire étroitement alignés et de plus en plus influents, l'un en Alberta, au Canada, et l'autre en Nouvelle-Galles du Sud, en Australie. Cet article se concentre principalement sur le programme australien, dont le caractère a été fortement influencé par son prédécesseur canadien. Il s'intéresse à la nature des fondements de l'enquête collaborative et du dialogue génératif, ainsi qu'à la relation entre ces processus et le besoin exprimé d'un meilleur développement du leadership dans le secteur scolaire australien. David Townsend et Pam Adams, qui sont les principaux responsables de la création d'un modèle de développement du leadership scolaire basé sur l'utilisation de l'enquête collaborative et du dialogue génératif, ont cherché à montrer comment ces deux processus devraient fonctionner de manière transparente, mais il y a plus à dire sur la nature de leur relation. Cet article vise à mettre en lumière le rôle intégral joué par le dialogue génératif dans l'autonomisation de l'enquête collaborative dans le contexte du développement du leadership scolaire.

Mots clés : dialogue génératif, enquête collaborative, leadership scolaire, développement du leadership, programmes de leadership scolaire

Author Biographies

Robert James Smith, Southern Cross University

Dr Robert James Smith was a practicing teacher for over twenty years, mostly in Secondary schools, but also with experience in Primary as well as Technical education and in administration. This experience has been in regional areas of Australia, where he helped to establish a regional professional association for English teachers. As a Senior Lecturer at Southern Cross University, Australia, he has taken leadership in subject English, and in university-wide academic accreditation. Currently he is that university’s Inaugural Vice-Chancellor’s Fellow and is active in the professional development of the region’s school principals. 

Koralia Petta, Southern Cross University

Koralia Petta is a PhD student at School of Education at Southern Cross University, Australia. She has a multi-discipline background in Greece having been a teacher in Primary as well as an obstetric nurse/midwife. Her previous research was a comparative analysis in teachers’ perceptions and pedagogical practices concerning discipline, diversity and student’s evaluation. The main focus of her current PhD research study is to determine the ways and the extent to which NSW North Coast school leaders’ participation in a collaborative-inquiry and generative-dialogue process enhances their leadership development. 

Christos Markopoulos, Southern Cross University

Dr Christos Markopoulos has extensive experience in mathematics education for undergraduate and postgraduate education students in Europe (Greece) and in Australia. Currently a Senior Lecturer at School of Education, Southern Cross University, he has developed and taught Mathematical Content Knowledge for pre-service teachers. For the last five years, he has been involved in the North Coast Initiative for School Improvement. With his colleagues, he has been awarded the SCU Excellence in Community Engagement Award 2016. Moreover, Dr Christos Markopoulos was awarded the SCU Vice Chancellor’s Citation Award 2017 for Outstanding Contribution to Student Learning. 




How to Cite

Smith, R. J. ., Petta, K., & Markopoulos, C. (2021). Roots of Collaborative Inquiry and Generative Dialogue for Educational Leadership. Alberta Journal of Educational Research, 67(3), 273–282.