My former career was in K-12 education as a school leader in Cairo, Egypt, where my discoveries about effective educational leadership were based on practice and trial and error, rather than on empirical evidence. My experience as a scholar has opened my eyes and my mind to the world of research, and to the positive contributions it could add to enhance school leadership. I believe that an effective school leader positively impacts school culture and consequently student engagement, learning, and achievement. This belief led me to focus my research on leadership preparation and specifically the preparation of socially just and culturally competent educational leaders. My research agenda can be viewed as part of the more encompassing endeavor of developing effective educational leaders (Figure 1).

Barakat, 2014; Building on Murphy’s framework for school administration, 2002

My main research focus is cultural competence within different contexts: cultural competence of educational leaders, elements predicting cultural competence and cultural competence measurement and evaluation. My research on “preparing culturally competent educational leaders” examines the correlation between the cultural competence of educational leaders and other personal and professional variables. An initial part of my research endeavor was the development and validation of the Cultural Competence for Educational Leaders [CCEL] Survey, an instrument which I specifically designed for the educational leadership context. My research agenda also includes examining elements of preparation programs which positively affect cultural competence of educational leaders. Other research interests include studying issues of “identity”, “marginalization” and self-perception.