2011 TC Research
Teachers College, Columbia University
Teachers College Columbia University

Research

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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

Selected Publications

biographical information

Dr. Carolyn Riehl's research reflects a broad concern for how schools can be organized and administered so that they are lively, humane, equitable, and productive settings for learning and accomplishment for both teachers and students, especially students who traditionally have been poorly served by schooling.

She situates her scholarship at the juncture between sociology of education and organizational and administrative studies, the fields in which she pursued graduate training. The sociological perspective addresses the dynamic interrelationships among individuals, social groups, organizations and institutions, and wider sociocultural contexts, with particular regard to issues of equity. The administrative/organizational perspective covers technical, interpretive, and critical approaches to the design and administration of school programs and structures and the intricacies of culture and meaning in schooling. These fields are complementary in their attention to educational practice and to the cultural and institutional foundations of that practice. They converge in questions about how to organize and administer schools. Yet their concerns, while overlapping, are not identical.

Sociological approaches to schooling explore the role of schools within society and their effects on individuals and groups, but almost never frame administration as an important aspect of the social order of the school. Administrative approaches focus on leadership and administrative practice, organizational dynamics, and the process of change, but rarely look at school organization and administration through wider interpretive perspectives on human action or social structure.

Her work tries to build bridges across these disciplines and to generate unifying approaches to the problems of knowledge and practice that they raise. Dr. Riehl's scholarship reflects different epistemological traditions, ranging from "soft positivism" to interpretive and critical studies; she finds something of value in each tradition. She utilizes both qualitative and quantitative methods in her empirical work. Her research has clustered around three general themes: studies of school organization; studies of the practice of school administration and leadership; and scholarship on research. An additional theme focusing on issues of diversity and equity stretches across all three clusters.

Centers and Projects

The Cahn Fellows Program for Distinguished Public School Principals
Website: http://www.cahnfellows.org