Secondary School Science Department Chairs Leading Successful Change


  • Julie Ann Gaubatz Hinsdale South High School
  • David C Ensminger Loyola University Chicago



Department Chair, Leadership, Change Management, Secondary School


A foundational understanding within education leadership literature is that education leaders are expected to guide reform efforts within school systems (e.g., Darling-Hammond, 2001; Evans, 1996; Fullan, 2001). This expectation mirrors organizational development literature that describes leaders as individuals who constructively institute change within their organizations (e.g., Northouse, 2004; Havelock & Zlotolow, 1995; Yukl & Lepsinger, 2005). Although leadership and change are portrayed as codependent and recursive phenomena within both educational and organizational development literature, no scholarship has linked change models with leadership theories (Herold, Fedor, Caldwell, & Liu, 2008). This article describes a multiple case study that explored the relationship between leadership behaviors and the change process through secondary school department chair stories of change. From the analysis of these stories of successful and unsuccessful change attempts, a clearer picture emerged that illustrates how leaders with little control over decisions implement change. Findings included distinct connections between CREATER change process stages (Havelock & Zlotolow, 1995) and specific leadership behaviors related to the Leadership Grid (Blake & McCanse, 1991; Yukl, Gordon, and Tabers, 2002), as well as change-leadership patterns that differentiate successful and unsuccessful change. Based on these findings, suggestions as to how education leaders should approach change attempts within their schools are discussed.

Author Biographies

Julie Ann Gaubatz, Hinsdale South High School

Science Department Chair

David C Ensminger, Loyola University Chicago

Assistant Professor of Teaching and Learning, School of Education




How to Cite

Gaubatz, J. A., & Ensminger, D. C. (2015). Secondary School Science Department Chairs Leading Successful Change. International Journal of Education Policy and Leadership, 10(6).