David Spicer headshot

David Eddy Eddy Spicer

Unit: School of Education and Human Development
Department: School of Education and Human Development
Office location and address
Ruffner Hall 276
405 Emmet St S
Charlottesville, Virginia 22903
EdD., Harvard Graduate School of Education, 2006.
Ed.M., Boston University, 1984.
A.B., Harvard College, 1980.

I'm interested in the interorganizational dynamics of accountability and innovation in education, with particular attention to the connections among authority, leadership, professional practice, and organizational change. My current research looks at the role of middle-tier governance structures (e.g., districts, educational management organizations) in mediating policy and practice. These studies trace the influence of policy and governance on the framing of professional knowledge and the enactment of that knowledge in the everyday interactions that constitute professional work in schools. I have recently completed a study of the role of school governing bodies in the appraisal and performance management of head teachers funded by the UK Department for Education and a study of the dynamics of school improvement in newly-formed educational management organizations, funded by the British Educational Leadership, Management and Administration Society (BELMAS). I'm now conducting a systematic review of the organizational dynamics of school accountability in developing countries with colleagues at the Institute of Education, University of London, funded by the UK Department for International Development.

I have taught a wide variety of students, from teenagers in a rudimentary village secondary school in the Democratic Republic of the Congo to globally distributed networks of senior school leaders, engaged with carrying forward dramatic changes to teaching and learning in their well-resourced schools. My teaching has been inspired by several pedagogical approaches that fall under the broad umbrella of social constructivism and action learning.  A social constructivist frame highlights the importance of attention to participation structures within the class, introducing different ways of bringing students together in various combinations — pairs, small groups and the whole group; online and face-to-face — to collaborate in the activity of meaning making. Active engagement with subject matter thus provides the means for collective knowledge-building in class or online in ways that students will, if successful, be able to use without support as they begin to make sense of their own research and their own leadership and management practice. My teaching of research has emphasized advanced qualitative methods and research design, and I also enjoy teaching quantitative methods and mixed methods research design in ways that help anxious learners master essential concepts and skills.  I have taught and designed courses in educational leadership and school change at the master’s and doctoral levels. At the Curry School, I am currently teaching the master’s course, Leadership for Low-performing Schools, and will be teaching the Spring course on Professional Learning Communities.

Understanding the Impact and Consequences of multi-school Federations on Quality and Quantity in Three School System
Source: Institute of Education, University of London
February 21, 2017 – July 31, 2017
CU- Systematic Review of School Accountability Systems in Low- and Middle-Income Countries
Source: Institute of Education, University of London
August 01, 2014 – March 31, 2015
EDLF 7805: Cultivating Professional Capacity
Credits: 3
Through research based practices and theoretical framing, students learn to build schools' professional capacity through recruitment, interviewing, induction, professional development, evaluation, and compensation. The process is considered in school and policy contexts with attention to ethical and diversity considerations. Students develop actionable plans for employing, supporting, and retaining professional capacity as a leader.
EDLF 7807: Leadership Experiences, Applications & Development
Credits: 3
The role of principal is complex and demanding, but no other individual in a school is better positioned to impact student achievement and faculty morale. Students consider the school as an organization, and examine the routines and tools school leaders and teachers use to analyze and act on its management and climate, and then apply improvement science to identify effective and ineffective practices for a problem of practice in the specific area.
EDLF 7812: Leadership for Continuous Improvement
Credits: 3
This course provides educators with tools to initiate and sustain continuous improvement to promote all student's academic success and well-being. Drawing on improvement science, the course provides frameworks and protocols for understanding and leading systemic change in schools and school systems. Activities include authentic application of approaches used to support high-quality teaching and leading in P-12 school systems across the country.
EDLF 8382: Educational Inquiry for Practitioners
Credits: 3
Problems of practice through systematic inquiry are the focus of this course. We explore the intersection of theory and practice with emphasis on the design of thoughtful, ethical inquiry about educational problems of practice. There is a co-requisite (EDLF 5301: Academic Writing for Practitioners that is focused exclusively on academic writing to address problems of practice).
EDLF 8384: Lab of Practice of Qualitative Inquiry
Credits: 1
This Lab of Practice complements qualitative fieldwork methods in educational settings focusing specifically on observations, interviews, artifacts, and beginning data reduction and analysis that are the focus of EDLF 8383: Qualitative Inquiry. The Lab is an opportunity to engage in fieldwork on a very small scale allowing for practicing the major qualitative methods for generating qualitative data.
EDLF 8387: Practical Evaluation for Practitioners
Credits: 3
The intersection of evaluation theory and practice is focused on with an emphasis on the design of thoughtful, ethical evaluation inquiry about problems of practice (POPs) associated with educational programs. The course focuses specifically on developing the knowledge, skills, and understandings regarding evaluation and the collection of information to make judgments about an education initiative or program.
EDLF 8500: Special Topics
Credits: 1–6
Special topics in education leadership, foundations and policy.
EDLF 8825: Developing High-performance Organizations
Credits: 3
Developing High-performance Organizations is a doctoral-level course for ExSEL students and others interested in understanding how organizations evolve, develop, improve, and decline. Students examine case studies, research on efforts to improve organizational performance, and methods for studying organizations over extended periods of time.
EDLF 8826: Leadership for Equity and Improvement
Credits: 3
The course offers a practice-focused, evidence-based, and critical examination of equity-oriented improvement in educational settings. Students explore equity issues from stakeholders' points of view and draw on principles and approaches of improvement science to develop working theories of change. Critical reviews of existing research and in-class working sessions provide the foundation for students' investigation of an improvement project.
EDLF 9991: Ed.D. Research
Credits: 1–12
Ed.D. Research conducted under the guidance of capstone committee. 12 hours required for graduation. Permission of Instructor required.
EDLF 9993: Independent Study
Credits: 1–12
Under close faculty guidance, students work on an area of interest not covered by the curriculum. A plan of study must be signed by the faculty sponsor and filed in the student's permanent file in the Office of Student Affairs. Prerequisite: Instructor permission.
EDLF 9998: Doctoral Research Apprenticeship
Credits: 3–12
Designed to give doctoral students experience conducting research in professional settings appropriate to their disciplines. Prerequisites: Advisor Permission Required.
EDLF 9999: Doctoral Dissertation
Credits: 3–12
Doctoral Dissertation Research completed under the guidance of dissertation committee. 12 hours is required for graduation. Permission of instructor required.