Bringing clarity to the leadership of teaching and learning in higher education: a systematic review

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


Purpose. The study investigates the state of higher education (HE) leadership research after the intensified focus on teaching and learning in academia.
Design. We clarify the use of key concepts in English-medium empirical journal articles published between 2017 and 2021 by analysing 64 publications through qualitative content analysis.
Findings. The analysed papers on leadership of teaching and learning in HE activate a number of concepts, the commonest concepts being academic leadership, distributed leadership, educational leadership, transformational leadership, leadership, and transformative leadership. Even if the papers highlight partly overlapping aspects of leadership, the study finds a rationale for the use of several concepts in the HE context. Contrary to the expectation raised in earlier scholarship, no holistic framework evolves from within the recent research to reveal the contribution that leadership of teaching and learning makes to leadership in HE generally.
Originality. This research contributes to an enhanced understanding of the field of leadership in teaching and learning in HE in that it frames the concepts used in recent research and makes the differences, similarities and rationale between concepts visible.
Research limitations. Nearly 40 per cent of the analysed articles are from the USA, UK, Australia, and Canada, which leaves large areas of the world aside.
Research implications. The found geographical incoherence might be remediated and the research of leadership of teaching and learning in HE generally led forward by widening the cultural and situational diversity in the field.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Applied Research in Higher Education
Number of pages16
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 4 Jan 2023
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

Fields of Science

  • 516 Educational sciences
  • Academic leadership
  • Distributed leadership
  • Leadership
  • Educational leadership
  • Transformative leadership
  • Transformational leadership

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