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Carolyn J. Riehl

Professional Background

Educational Background

  • Ph.D., Teachers College, Columbia University
                Dissertation: Determinants of Student Discharge from High School: The Effects
                                     of Organizational Environment and Student Performance
  • M.A., New York University
  • Teacher Certification, University of Wisconsin-Madison
  • B.A., Valparaiso University (Indiana)

Scholarly Interests

Carolyn Riehl, Associate Professor of Sociology and Education Policy, focuses her teaching and research on leadership and organizational dynamics in education, policy and the management of instruction, and research design and methods.  Her scholarship reflects a broad concern for how practice, policy, theory, and research can inform each other to support both careful analysis and pragmatic innovation and reform in schools and school systems, especially in settings where students traditionally have been poorly served.  She situates her scholarship at the juncture between sociology of education and organizational and administrative studies.  The sociological perspective invites analysis of the dynamic relationships among individuals, social groups, organizations and institutions, and wider sociocultural contexts, with particular regard to issues of equity.  The administrative/organizational perspective addresses practical challenges in the design and administration of school programs and the interdependencies of organizational structure and culture, individual agency, and outcomes in schooling.  


Prof. Riehl has been a high-school English teacher, and has held faculty appointments at the University of Michigan, Eastern Michigan University, and the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.  She co-chaired an American Educational Research Association task force whose work culminated in the book A New Agenda for Research in Educational Leadership.  She has also served as chair of the Ethics Committee for the American Educational Research Association.  She serves as a faculty mentor for exemplary school principals in the Cahn Fellows Program at Teachers College and is affiliated with the TC Partnership Schools Consortium in Harlem. 


Her recent and current research projects include a field study of teachers’ instructional planning and use of student performance data in elementary schools (funded by the Spencer Foundation) and a study of civic collaborations for education reform, sometimes known as “collective impact” initiatives (funded by The Wallace Foundation). 

Selected Publications

Kliegman, Rachel, & Riehl, Carolyn. (2012). Playing doctor with education: Considerations in using medical rounds as a model for instructional rounds.  Journal of School Leadership, 22(5), 922-952.


Riehl, C.  (2012).  Edging in: Locating a focus on school-family-community partnerships within the scholarship of educational leadership.  In S. Auerbach (Ed.), School leadership for authentic family and community partnerships: Research perspectives for transforming practice (pgs. 10-28).  New York: Routledge.


Cooper, C. W., Riehl, C. J., & Hasan, L.  (2010).  Leading and learning with diverse families in schools: Critical epistemology amid communities of practice.  Journal of School Leadership, 20(6), 758-788.


Riehl, C. J.  (2008/2009).  The principal's role in creating inclusive schools for diverse students: A review of normative, empirical, and critical literature on the practice of educational administration.  Reprinted in Journal of Education, 189(1/2), 183-197.


Riehl, C.  (2007).  Research on educational leadership: Knowledge we need for the world we live in.  In F. W. English and G. C. Furman (Eds.), Research and educational leadership: Navigating the new National Research Council guidelines (pgs. 133-168).  Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield Publishers, Inc.


Riehl, C.  (2006, June-July).  Feeling better: A comparison of medical research and education research.  Educational Researcher, 35(5), 24-29.


Riehl, C.  (2005).  Educational leadership in policy contexts that strive for equity.  In N. Bascia, A. Cumming, A. Datnow, K. Leithwood, and D. Livingstone (Eds.), International Handbook of Educational Policy.  Dordrecht, The Netherlands: Kluwer Publishers.


Riehl, C., & Firestone, W.  (2005). What research methods should be used to study educational leadership?  In W. Firestone and C. Riehl (Eds.), A New Agenda for Research in Educational Leadership.  New York: Teachers College Press.


Riehl, C.  (2001).  Bridges to the future: The contributions of qualitative research to the sociology of education.  Sociology of Education, Extra Issue 2001, 115-134.


Riehl, C. J.  (2000).  The principal's role in creating inclusive schools for diverse students: A review of normative, empirical, and critical literature on the practice of educational administration.  Review of Educational Research, 70(1), 55-81.


Riehl, C., Pallas, A. M., & Natriello, G.  (1999).  Rites and wrongs: Institutional explanations for the student course scheduling process in urban high schools.  American Journal of Education, 107(2), 116-154..


Riehl, C.  (1999).  Labeling and letting go: An organizational analysis of how high school students are discharged as dropouts.  In A. M. Pallas (Ed.), Research in socialization and sociology of education, Vol. 12, (pp. 231-268).   Greenwich, CT: JAI Press.


Riehl, C.  (1998).  We gather together: Work, discourse, and constitutive social action in elementary school faculty meetings.  Educational Administration Quarterly, 34(1), 91-125.


Riehl, C., & Byrd, M.A.  (1997).  Gender differences among new recruits to school administration: Cautionary footnotes to an optimistic tale.  Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, 19(1), 45-64.


Riehl, C., & Sipple, J.W.  (1996).  Making the most of time and talent: The impact of secondary school organizational climates and teaching task environments on teacher commitment.  American Educational Research Journal, 33(4), 873-901.



active professional organizations

American Educational Research Association
American Sociological Association

Centers and Projects

The Cahn Fellows Program for Distinguished Public School Principals