Traditional Educational Leadership: Instructional Leadership Revolving Around Ralph Tyler’s Four Fundamental Questions

Traditional Educational Leadership: Instructional Leadership Revolving Around Ralph Tyler’s Four Fundamental Questions

Victor X. Wang (Florida Atlantic University, USA)
Copyright: © 2012 |Pages: 12
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61350-068-2.ch041
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This article addresses the traditional instructional leadership (characterized with Tyler’s four questions; teachers prescribe a curriculum; learners assume a submissive role of following instructors) in comparison with the andragogical or innovative instructional leadership. As more and more scholars cast their doubt on this particular instructional mode (traditional instructional leadership) especially when compared with the innovative instructional leadership, this article seeks to draw on traditional instructional leadership that revolves around Ralph Tyler’s model. In doing so, instructors and practitioners will see clearly what the traditional instructional leadership may bring to most education settings and above all, they may rely on a ready-made formula when planning curriculums, instruction, program planning, or evaluation. While traditional instructional leadership may have come under much criticism lately, there is much to learn from it.
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Educational leadership can be divided into two areas: administrative leadership and instructional leadership. Administrative leadership deals with leaders leading followers in a certain organization or institutions of learning whereas instructional leadership deals with teaching learners or helping learners learn in classroom settings. In actuality, scholars tend to focus more on instructional leadership than administrative leadership because the majority of educators, teachers, or trainers serve as classroom instructors or teachers in the virtual environment. A small number of educators are chosen as administrative leaders, such as university presidents, school principals, superintendents. Researchers spend years trying to discover the most effective forms of instructional leadership, and the answer changes with the context.

Researchers have been innovative, trying to determine what prescribed instructional leadership may lead to the desired learning outcomes, or student performance objectives as termed by some scholars and educators in some school settings. Indeed, teachers are classroom leaders. They are just like drivers of cars or busses. Learners are, in a way, passengers. They do not know where to go until their teachers tell them where to go. This is especially true when learners are traditional age students or children. Teachers provide the direction and structure regarding how learners can embark on their learning journeys. Teachers prescribe curriculums, and they know what ought to happen in their classroom settings, given their prescribed curriculum’s approval by experts in their field and stakeholders in their community. Teachers conform to their school’s mission and goals. They have a clear idea of what is expected of them based on a school’s mission and goals. Once a curriculum is prescribed, they will go about selecting the means for attaining the school’s mission and goals. Then, teachers select the specific instructional methods that will work for a particular class. Finally, teachers have the responsibility of choosing evaluation methods to evaluate student learning. Teachers are driving the bus; they know where they need to go and when they should arrive. However, the route the bus takes to arrive at the final destination is flexible, but the driver, or teacher, needs to assess which route is the best and why.

In recent years, this traditional model of the teacher as the bus driver has come under criticism. Some scholars argue that traditional instructional leadership may lead to docile learners, learners who are high in scores and low in abilities (Ross, 1992). In the Western Hemisphere, researchers focus on critical thinking skills or problem solving skills rather than on rote learning or how much learners can regurgitate information or knowledge (Mezirow, 1991, 2000). Some scholars focus on learners’ “cognitive metamorphosis” rather than on psychomotor skills when the majority of their learners are adult learners. Another movement is that scholars focus more on higher order thinking skills than on the lower order thinking skills based on Bloom’s Taxonomy (1956).

Regardless of the movements or debate regarding what instructional leadership may lead to the right learning outcomes, all instructional leadership leads to three kinds of educational objectives. In other words, instructional leadership is bound to change learners in three domains of educational objectives: cognitive domain, psychomotor domain and affective domain. In plain language, educators and teachers are concerned with whether their learners will be able to think, act, and feel differently at the end of their instruction in a classroom setting or in a virtual classroom environment (Wang, 2008). Clearly, being able to think, act, and feel differently by the end of a teacher’s instruction indicates that learners have achieved cognitive change not only through instruction by also via their own learning or efforts. As researchers and scholars focus on the aforementioned movements or debate focused around educational objectives, less attention has been paid to the differences between traditional instructional leadership and innovative instructional leadership. Because more attention has been given to innovative instructional leadership, such as higher order thinking skills (Wang & Farmer, 2008) or transformative learning, some instructors may not even know the theories behind traditional instructional leadership.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Curriculum: The aggregate of courses of study given in a school, college, university, etc. John Dewey defines curriculum as a continuous reconstruction, moving from the learner’s present experience out into that represented by the organized bodies of truth that we call studies… the various studies… are themselves experience—they are that of the race. Ralph Tyler defines it as all the learning experiences planned and directed by the school to attain its educational goals.

Taxonomy: The science or technique of classification. In this article, it refers to the most talked about Bloom’s Taxonomy, which contains six levels ranging from knowledge, comprehension, application, analysis, synthesis and evaluation. The six levels also represent both lower order thinking skills and higher order thinking skills. Bloom’s taxonomy has proved useful and helpful in curriculum and program development.

Affective Domain: Concerned with or arousing the emotions or affection. Affective domain refers to the area where learners seek to feel differently by the end of a lesson or a course.

Instructional Leadership: Has been described as the “process of social influence in which one person can enlist the aid and support of others in the accomplishment of a common task.” Definitions more inclusive of followers have also emerged. [REMOVED HYPERLINK FIELD]Leadership is ultimately about creating a way for people to contribute to making something extraordinary happen. Instructional leadership refers to what instructional leadership roles teachers can play in their classroom settings or in the virtual environment so that learners can achieve the desired learning outcomes. In general, it may refer to the whole process of teaching and learning. It is part of the so-called educational leadership, which includes also administrative leadership.

Psychomotor Domain: Of or pertaining to a response involving both motor and psychological components. Psychomotor domain refers to the area where learners seek to act differently by the end of a lesson or a course.

Cognitive Metamorphosis: A profound change in form from one stage to the next in the life history of an organism, as from the caterpillar to the pupa and from the pupa to the adult butterfly. Cognitive metamorphosis refers to such a profound change in human beings as a result of self-directed learning or teaching as initiated by others. And this kind of change does not mean psychomotor change. Change in one’s attitude may be involved in cognitive metamorphosis.

Ralph Tyler: (1902-1994) was an American educator who worked in the field of assessment and evaluation. He served on or advised a number of bodies that set guidelines for the expenditure of federal funds and influenced the underlying policy of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965. Tyler chaired the committee that eventually developed the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). He earned his PhD from the University of Chicago. His most influential books is perhaps titled Basic Principles of Curriculum and Instruction. Tyler emphasizes the fact that curriculum planning is a continuous cyclical process, involving constand replanning, redevelopment, and reappraisal. Substitution of such an integrated view of an instructional program for hit-or-miss judgment as the basis for curriculum development cannot but result in an increasingly effective curriculum.

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