A Systemic Review: New Trends In Educational Supervision

The system of education is undergoing dramatic shifts. Globalization, emerging socioeconomic inequities, increased cultural diversity and other trends alter the balance of forces in education and call for the development of new advanced systems for effective education and learning. In this context, supervision becomes one of the critical yet underexplored factors of learning efficiency. Supervision is gaining prominence in research and practice, but it is a relatively new and dynamic concept. New trends in supervision could bring confidence to educators, teachers and supervisors. A systematic review of these trends is currently warranted. The purpose of this project is to highlight the most prevalent trends in educational supervision, their relative efficacy, and their implications for education, teaching and learning. The results of this systematic review can provide a framework for the future analysis of the problem.

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Introducing the Problem

Educational supervision is gaining prominence in educational research and practice. These trends in leadership and learning practice have their roots in the dramatic changes facing the system of education. On the one hand, leaders in educational institutions assume greater roles in promoting organizational efficiency and ensuring outstanding quality and consistency of the educational and learning processes (Alalfy, 2015). On the other hand, the dynamics and nature of the supervision practices in education change faster than anyone could expect (Al Nazer & Muhammad, 2013; Passi, 2016; Ugurlu, 2014). Contemporary researchers note a shift from control and micromanagement as the distinctive features of educational supervision in the past toward cooperation, collaboration, instruction, and needs assessment all for the purpose of more effective education and learning (Al Nazer & Muhammad, 2013; Passi, 2016; Ugurlu, 2014). New approaches to educational supervision also emerge (Hamilton & Carson, 2015; Johnson, Wesley, & Yerrick, 2016; Maxwell, 2013). However, no systematic analysis of new trends and practices in educational supervision has been conducted so far. As a result, professionals in education, leadership and supervision face a serious gap in knowledge and cannot adequately assess the current state of research to be able to translate it into practice.

The goal of this systematic review is to revisit and evaluate the key trends in educational supervision across diverse domains of practice that have become relevant in the past 5-7 years. This systematic review is designed to accomplish the following objectives:

(a) to review the latest findings in the field of educational supervision;

(b) to outline the most notable trends in educational supervision while considering their implications for the processes of education and learning;

(c) to evaluate the consistency and robustness of the research methods used to study educational supervision;

(d) to propose a new agenda for the study of educational supervision and the emerging trends.

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Why the Problem Is Important

The importance of the proposed review is justified by the need for researchers and instructional specialists to develop a more systemic understanding of the supervisory practices currently utilized in the system of education. This awareness of educational supervision will benefit teachers and education specialists, by (a) allowing them to review the practices and decisions of their colleagues and (b) guiding their decisions and practices in educational settings. However, this is not the only reason why the study is important.

This systematic review is a logical response to the existing inequities and irregularities in the teaching practices around the globe. This is particularly the issue of the developing world where lack of teacher discipline, lack of uniformity across teaching practices and poor financial support in education calls for implementing more robust and proven supervisory methods to facilitate the attainment of organizational and learning objectives (Kalule & Bouchamamma, 2014). As such, this systematic review can provide a knowledge bridge between the east and the west, as well as between the developed and developing countries.

Ultimately, as new models of educational supervision enter the theoretical and practice landscape, it is important to understand how effective they can be in meeting the fundamental goals of supervision in the system of education. Today’s researchers of educational supervision pursue either of the two distinct themes or threads (1) new alternative approaches to educational supervision such as paired or peer models (Gunduz & Akar, 2016; Heidorn & Jenkins, 2015), and (2) the growing popularity of advanced technologies used to facilitate supervisory processes and practices (Johnson et al., 2016). Both threads deserve attention. Moreover, they can be potentially integrated into new comprehensive models of educational supervision. However, without a systematic review of the current literature, researchers and practitioners cannot reasonably evaluate the existing gaps in research and knowledge and develop relevant strategies for closing these gaps.

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Relevant Scholarship and Gap in Research

As mentioned previously, the current state of research provides rich evidence of the new trends and developments in educational supervision. However, the biggest issue with this research is that it is poorly organized, being scattered across themes, topics and subjects and confusing professionals in education who want to refine their supervising practices. Still, one can readily outline the key trends in educational supervision and practices, which can also inform the development of new philosophies and models in practice.

The current research into educational supervision can be divided into two broad categories. The first category is devoted to the analysis of the shifting philosophies and approaches to educational supervision. A notable feature of this research is that it incorporates studies from different countries and continents. It would be fair to say that the latest studies of educational supervision are cross-cultural. For instance, Alalfy (2015) focused on the study of educational supervision practices in Egyptian secondary schools. The results confirmed the relevance of new supervising practices, as the environment for education and learning continues to change (Alalfy, 2015). Like Alalfy (2015), Al Nazer and Mohammad (2013) studied educational supervision but in a different setting secondary schools in Amman, Jordan. Again, changes in the environment for education were noted (Al Nazer & Mohammad, 2013). Here researchers often discuss new supervisory practices and functions of educational supervisors. For instance, Passi (2016) cites mentorship as a distinctive feature of modern educational supervision. A new trend is incorporating pastoral guidance into supervising (Maxwell, 2013; Passi, 2016). One of the strongest aspects of this research is that it features numerous empirical studies, but the data and knowledge provided require further reorganization, analysis and systematization. For example, researchers analyzed the effectiveness of peer supervision or paired supervision in educational contexts (Gunduz & Akar, 2016; Heidorn & Jenkins, 2015).

The second category is devoted to the analysis of advanced technologies and their relevance in the context of educational supervision. One of such studies was carried out by Johnson et al. (2016), who tested the efficacy of tablets in student teaching supervision. Again, types of technologies tested in these studies can vary considerably. Consequently, a systematic review of literature is warranted. Such review and analysis will reveal possible inequities or irregularities in how different researchers approach the concept of educational supervision. Its results will be more informative than the results of a single study in identifying the latest trends in educational supervision.

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Some of these irregularities have already been noted. For instance, different researchers provide different definitions of educational supervision. Alalfy (2015) conceptualize it as educational and school leadership. For Al Nazer and Mohammad (2013), educational supervision is essentially about cooperating with teachers and instructors to help them realize their professional potentials Ugurlu (2014) goes further to identify an educational supervisor with a persona of an educational or instructional leader, presenting supervision as a process that promotes teacher motivation and improves the quality of curriculum and instruction.

By looking deeper into the latest studies, this systematic review will (a) determine the key characteristics of educational supervision and (b) offer an updated definition of the main supervisory practices. It will systematize and bring together multiple perspectives taken by researchers in this field of study. This systematic review will create a more holistic picture of the latest developments in educational supervision and their applicability across different contexts and settings. Given the emerging focus on effectiveness and efficiency as the most desired characteristics of the present and future educational institutions, the body of research on educational supervision can be quite extensive. However, its utility will also be determined by the ability and readiness of researchers to identify the most crucial information and organize it to present the most notable trends in educational supervision to readers.

Conclusion

The current state of research provides a deep insight into the nature of educational supervision in different systems and countries. However, the problem with this research is that it lacks systematization and is poorly organized. A systematic review of literature is an effective strategy for outlining the most prevalent trends and uncovering possible inconsistencies or irregularities in the latest studies. By organizing research around several core themes, this systematic review will inform the direction of future research efforts and practice developments in this field. It will also offer a new perspective on educational supervision in the 21st century, thus empowering researchers and practitioners to explore and analyze its dimensions more thoroughly.

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