Designing and piloting a Leadership Daily Practice log: Using logs to study the practice of leadership

James P. Spillane, Anita Zuberi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


Purpose: This article aims to validate the Leadership Daily Practice (LDP) log, an instrument for conducting research on leadership in schools. Research Design: Using a combination of data sources-namely, a daily practice log, observations, and open-ended cognitive interviews-the authors evaluate the validity of the LDP log. Participants: Formal and informal leaders were asked to complete the LDP log for 2 weeks; observers shadowed a subsample of leaders in each school, 1 day per week. Analysis: Using the three sources of data, the authors analyzed interview responses (specifically, the participants' interpretations of the log); they matched log entries with observer recordings; and they compared (a) the characteristics of the social interactions that were entered into the log with (b) the overall sample of interactions that occurred while observers shadowed participants. Findings: The study shows that LDP log entries capture school leadership interactions as recorded by independent observers; it also demonstrates that study participants, with some exceptions, were not biased toward reporting certain types of interactions over others. Still, some log terminologies were problematic for participants, as was the limited sampling period of 2 weeks. Conclusions: The authors propose ways to (a) change the LDP log to reflect the concerns raised by participants in the cognitive interviews and (b) alter the sampling scheme to capture leadership around the school year. The LDP log is less costly and time-consuming than in-depth ethnographic studies, and it is an important tool for researchers who aim to collect data in schools, one that reaches beyond surveys.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)375-423
Number of pages49
JournalEducational Administration Quarterly
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 2009


  • Distributed leadership
  • Instructional leadership
  • Methodology
  • School leadership
  • School management

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Public Administration

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