Date of Award


Document Type

Campus Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Education/Leadership in Urban Schools

First Advisor

Wenfan Yan

Second Advisor

Peter Kiang

Third Advisor

Phil D. Salvia


In the 21st century, education reform is becoming a tremendously important lever for ensuring competitiveness and prosperity in the age of globalization for every nation. Now China is a critical world leader and a strategically important partner country for the U.S. to understand well, however, there is not much research literature about educational leadership practice in China. This qualitative case study describes how a Chinese school principal successfully transformed her school, the data collected from interviews with school staff and the principal herself illustrates how she was able to motivate those working for her to achieve their common school goals and ultimately to make the school recognized as one of the best schools in China.

Two western leadership theories of Instructional Leadership and Transformational Leadership and the eastern Confucian values are applied as frameworks in this study. I have attempted to analyze this Chinese principals’ leadership style and reveal evidence of the functions and factors associated with effective instructional and transformational leaders. I also question how Confucianism, which is so engrained in Chinese culture, may have influenced this principal’s leadership practice and contributed to her success.

The findings show that two western leadership theories do accurately describe an effective Chinese school principal’s leadership practice in China,

There indeed are overlaps between the two western leadership theories and key Confucian Values. These findings show that successful principals may employ similar strategies to lead change and transform their schools in both US and China. Also these findings suggest that Instructional Leadership and Transformational Leadership theories should be emphasized more in principal professional development and training programs in both US and China; Confucian values of Ren, Jun Zi, Xiu Shen and Zhi Shan should be introduced into principal training and professional development programs in the US; and Chinese educators should revisit the deep meaning of Confucian values of Ren, Jun Zi, Xiu Shen and Zhi Shan for education leadership in China.


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