Dr Katina Pollock

Associate Professor

Co-Director, Knowledge Network for Applied Education Research, Secretariat

Director, Western's Centre for Education Leadership


My career in education began as a public school teacher. As a practitioner, I taught Mathematics and Science in Nova Scotia, CA; Newfoundland and Labrador, CA; and Essex, England. My research explores the intersection of power, access, and engagement in relation to work and learning in the field of education. My motivation for this line of inquiry stems from my work experiences in education and belief that systemic inequities and differences can prevent individuals and groups from accessing and engaging in both work and learning opportunities.

You can also follow me on Twitter

Expertise Areas


The Intensification of Secondary School Principals' Work (2016-2021)

Funded by: The Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC)

School principals' work is intensifying, threatening principal recruitment, retention, and job performance. This is particularly true for secondary school principals who have to work with high workload, inadequate resources, and an increasing number of government regulations. The intensity and complexity are also manifested in the work of principals in Ontario and British Columbia where the contexts of their work share more in common than other regions of Canada. This five-year study aims to provide an in-depth examination of secondary school principals' work intensification in both provinces, and to understand why work intensification is emerging in the secondary principal workforce, how this work intensification is manifesting itself, and how principals are acting in response to the resulting challenges. The mixed methods study involves focus groups and 50 exploratory interviews at the first stage. Findings from the interviews, focus groups, and relevant literature will be used to create an online survey to solicit secondary school principal perceptions for each jurisdiction in a larger scale. Four follow-up case studies will be conducted, observing principals and documenting activities that contribute to their work intensification. This study will generate knowledge critical to principal training, recruitment, and professional development and build understanding from the education and labour fields to address issues in principals' work.

The Changing Nature of Vice-Principals' Work (2015-June 2017)

Funded by: The Ontario Principals' Council

The study is in response to the call to extend the study on principals' work to that of vice-principals' work. With the ultimate goal of providing a more accurate picture of contemporary vice-principals' work, this study explores what vice-principals do and the motives behind their actions. The study examines how vice-principals approach their work, record how vice-principals spend their time, explore the motives and external factors influencing their actions and behaviors, and describe the challenges and possibilities their work presents to them. Data collection methods will include focus groups and a large-scale online survey. The survey consists of 12 sections: how you spend your time, duties and responsibilities, accountability and external influences, challenges and possibilities, work and life balance, well-being and job satisfaction, supports, the Ontario Leadership Framework, professional development, partnerships, about yourself, and about your school. It is anticipated that the online survey will take approximately 45 minutes to complete and will be launched in Winter 2016.

Suspension/Expulsion Program Evaluation (2015-2016)

Funded by: Safe Schools Unit/Ontario Ministry of Education

The evaluation study is designed to better understand suspension and expulsion program implementation and determine the effectiveness or impact of programming and prevention activities. The evaluation also seeks to gather general information from a selection of boards regarding suspension/expulsion and includes a review of the services provided through the related annual funding through the Ontario Grants for Student Needs (GSN).

The formative evaluation design will be conducted over two phases and incorporates both qualitative and quantitative research methods. Phase one involves conducting a literature review and inter-jurisdictional scan as well as an online survey of all teachers and paraprofessional staff (e.g., social workers, child and youth workers, psychologists, attendance counselors and educational assistants) directly involved in suspension and expulsion programming or prevention activities (interjurisdictional scan available below). Phase one of this study also includes an integration of statistical analyses conducted internally by the Ministry of Education. It is anticipated that phase one of the evaluation will occur from August 2015 to June 2016.

Phase two of this study will be conducted with a sample of eight school boards across Ontario. To achieve an accurate representation of suspension and expulsion policies and programs across Ontario, the phase two sample includes a mix of English, French, Catholic and Public school boards, as well as school boards located in different regions of the province. Data collection methods for phase two consist of document analyses, as well as interviews with directors and senior administrators, principals and vice-principals, students, and parents/guardians at each of the eight participating school boards in the sample. Phase two of this evaluation study is scheduled to be completed between October and November, 2016. The final report is scheduled to be submitted in February 2017.

This interjurisdictional scan provides an overview of the various suspension/expulsion policies, programs and reporting mechanisms in place across Canada's 13 provinces and territories. The inter jurisdictional scan also covers whether academic/non-academic support is offered to suspended/expelled students and, where available, details research/evaluation findings related to the various programmatic approaches. Data reported in this i nter jurisdictional scan was gathered from the organizational websites for each K-12 Ministry/Department of Education across Canada.

Policy Layer Enactment: New Terrains of Understanding (2015-2020)

Funded by: The Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC)

This SSHRC funded study explores the complexities of policy layer enactment in Ontario secondary schools. Findings shed new light on how policy is interpreted, prioritized and "done" in real-world contexts. Relatively few policy studies investigate the enactment of multiple policies at the same time despite criticisms that single-policy research fails to capture actors' holistic experiences in managing multiple, competing policy demands. Yet, understanding how the layers operate addresses essential questions about what occurs in schools. This research is a case study guided methodologically by established qualitative methods from policy sociology, and augmented with post-qualitative methods

The Contemporary Work of Secondary School Principals (2013-Present)

Funded by: The Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC)

This study builds on my previous research, except I narrow in on the work of secondary school principals examine how they understand and approach their work. This study employs a mixed-methods design. Currently 15 out of 30 secondary school principals have been interviewed and two case studies are in progress. The case studies consist of observations of two secondary school principals throughout a school year.

Findings: In progress

Specialist Teachers: A Review of the Literature (2015)

Funded by: The Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario (ETFO)

This literature review examines the connection between specialist teachers and student achievement, with a specific focus on teachers at the elementary school level and in the context of Ontario, Canada. Specialist teachers can be found in a wide range of subject areas, however, a fully encompassing definition of a specialist teacher remains somewhat elusive and must be considered in relation to factors such as formal qualifications, experience and local context. Overall, the literature on the subject remains rather limited, with few casual studies examining direct links between specialist teachers and student outcomes. However, the literature appears to support the claim that specialist teachers can positively impact student achievement and contribute to student success at the elementary level.

Findings: Full report available here

Principals’ Work in Contemporary Times (2011-2014)

Funded by: The Leadership Development and School Board Governance Branch, Ontario Ministry of Education & The Western Academic Development Fund

This study was designed to examine how principals approach their work, spend their time, and the motivation and forces that influence their choices. It also describes the challenges and possibilities inherent in the work of contemporary principals. This research was guided by both the Ontario Leadership Framework (OLF) and the concept of work. This inquiry included interviews and school-site observations. One- to two-hour interviews were conducted with 70 school principals who were employed in seven district school boards across southwestern Ontario. School-site observations encompassed three full work days with six principals in five different district school boards.

The Changing Nature of Principals’ Work (2012-2013)

Funded by: The Ontario Principals’ Council

This study examined the changing nature of principals’ work. It seeks to provide a more accurate picture of what principals do on a daily basis, and the challenges and possibilities inherent in their work. Data collection was carried out using a mixed methods design that included focus groups and an online survey. The online survey included 60 questions that touched on a number of aspects of principals’ work. A total of 1,821 OPC members responded to the survey when it was active for 26 days in October, 2013. In total, 1,423 surveys were available for analysis providing a response rate of 52.68%. The sample is largely consistent with that of the larger principal population in Ontario.

Occasional Teachers’ Access to Professional Learning (2010-2011)

Funded by: The Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario (ETFO)

The purpose of the study was to explore how occasional teachers engaged in professional learning. More specifically, it sought to examine the strategies occasional teachers used to participate in professional learning and the challenges occasional teachers experienced when attempting to engage in professional learning. This study employed mixed methods: 8 focus group sessions across the province of Ontario and an online survey. 440 survey links were requested and sent out to potential participants; 371 surveys were actually completed.

In The News

AM980 Interview (Listen here beginning at 51:00)

AMI Interview (Listen here beginning at 14:00)

London Free Press- Principals bogged down by paperwork

Western study finds majority of principals don't feel supported

New UCEA Center for the International Study of School Leadership

Recent Publications

Special Journal Issues Edited:

Pollock, K. (2016, December). The Changing Nature of School Principals’ Work: An International Perspective. International Studies in Educational Administration 44 (3).

Pollock, K. (2016, October). The Changing Nature of School Principals’ Work: An International Perspective. International Studies in Educational Administration 44 (2).

Pollock, K., & Murakami, E. (2014, June). School Leadership: Opportunities for Comparative Inquiry. Canadian and International Education. (42) 2.

Pollock, K., & Ryan, J. (2013, May). Canadian Cases in Educational Leadership and Policy. Canadian Journal for Educational Administration and Policy. (Online).

Recent Works:

Carr-Harris, S., Bairos, K., Campbell, C., & Pollok, K. (2018). Developing a knowledge mobilization network across education systems: Mobilizing knowledge in the Ontario education system, Education - knowledge networks. In Barwick, M.A. (Ed.), The knowledge translations professional certificate (KTPC) casebook: Building KT friendly organizations in healthcare and beyond (pp. 38-45). The Hospital for Sick Children: Toronto, Ontario. Retrieved from: https://www.sickkids.ca/Learning/AbouttheInstitute/Programs/Knowledge-Translation/Resources/Resources.html

Wang, F., Pollock, K., & Hauseman, C. (2018). School Principals’ Job Satisfaction: The Effects of Work Intensification.  Canadian Journal of Educational Administration and Policy, (185), 73-90.

Pollock, K. & Hauseman, D. C. (2018). The use of e-mail and principals’ work: A double-edged sword. Leadership and Policy in Schools.

Pollock, K. (2017, September). Healthy Principals, Healthy Schools: Supporting Principals’ Well-being. EdCan Magazine.

Leithwood, K., Sun, J., & Pollock, K. (Eds.). (2017). How School Leaders Contribute to Student Success. Gewerbestrassse, Switzerland: Springer

Hauseman, D.C., Pollock, K. & Wang, F. (2017) Inconvenient, but Essential: Impact and Influence of School-community Involvement on Principals' Work and Workload.School Community Journal, 27(1), 83-106.

Campbell, C., Pollock,K., Briscoe, P., Carr-Harris, S. & Tuters, S. (2017) Developing a knowledge network for applied education research to mobilise evidence in and for educational practice, Educational Research, 59(2), 209-227. DOI: 10.1080/00131881.2017.1310364

Briscoe, P., & Pollock, K. (Spring, 2017). Principals Perception of Difference and Diversity in their Student Body. CAP Journal, 10-14.

Pollock, K. Wang, F., Hauseman, C. (2017). Complexity and Volume: An Inquiry into Factors That Drive Principals’ Work. In Leithwood. Sun, J., Pollock, K (Eds), How School Leaders Contribute to Student Success: The Four Paths Framework Dordrecht, NL:Springer.

Pollock, K. (2016). Principals’ Work in Ontario, Canada: Changing Demographics, Advancements in Informational Communication Technology and Health and well-being. International Journal for Educational Administration 44(3), 55-74.

Pollock, K., Hauseman, D.C. (2016). Observational research on school principals: To time or not or not to time (pp. 88-107). In L. Ling & P. Ling (Eds.), Paradigms and Methods in Educational Research. Hershey, PA: IGI Global.

Briscoe, P., Pollock, K., Campbell, C. & Carr-Harris, Shasta. (2015). Finding the sweet spot: Network structures and processes for increased knowledge mobilization. Brock Education Journal, 25(1), 20-34.

Pollock, K., Murakami, E., & Swapp, D. H. (2015). The work of school leaders: North American similarities, local differences. International Studies in Educational Administration, 43(2), 5-20. http://www.cceam.org/fileadmin/user_upload/ISEA_MEM/ISEA43.2.pdf

Winton, S., & Pollock, K. (2015). How can educational leaders contend with the political aspects of their role? (pp. 261-266). In D. Griffiths & J. Portelli (Eds.), Key Questions for Educational Leaders. Burlington, Ontario, Canada: Word & Deeds and Edphil Books.

Pollock, K., & Winton, S. (2015). Juggling multiple accountability systems: how three principals manage these tensions in Ontario, Canada. Educational Assessment, Evaluation and Accountability, 28(4), doi:10.1007/s11092-015-9224-7.

Pollock, K. (2015). The new "new teacher" (pp. 91-112). In N. Maynes & B.E. Hatt (Eds.) The Complexity of Hiring, Supporting, and Retaining New Teachers in Canada (pp. 91-112). Canadian Association for Teacher Education/Association canadienne pour la formation a l'enseignement.

Pollock, K., Wang, F., & Hauseman, D.C. (2015). Complexity and volume: An inquiry into factors that drive principals' work. Societies, 5(2), 537-565. doi:10.3390/soc5020537

Winton, S., & Pollock, K. (2015). Meanings of success and successful leadership in Ontario, Canada, in neo-liberal times. Journal of Educational Administration and History, 48(1), 19-34. doi:10.1080/00220620.2015.1040378

Pollock, K., & Murakami, E. (Guest Editors). (2014, June). School Leadership: Opportunities for Comparative Inquiry. Canadian and International Education, Special Issue (42)2.

Murakami, E., Törnsén, M., & Pollock, K. (2014). Expectations for the preparation of school principals in three jurisdictions: Sweden, Ontario, and Texas. Canadian and International Education, 42(2), 1-17.

Livingstone, D., Pollock, K., & Raykov, M. (2016). Glass ceilings and time binds: Women managers’ mobility limits in a ‘knowledge economy’. Critical Sociology, 42(1), 145-166. doi:10.1177/0896920514532663.

Pollock, K. (2013). Administrator and teachers' perceptions of school success in a publicly-funded Catholic school in Ontario, Canada. Catholic Education: A Journal of Inquiry and Practice, 16(2), 313-338.

Pollock, K., Lopez, A., & Joshee, R. (2013). Disrupting myths of poverty in the face of resistance. Special Issue of the Journal of Cases in Educational Administration, 16(2), 11-19. doi:10.1177/1555458913487031

Winton, S., & Pollock, K. (2013). Preparing politically savvy principals in Ontario, Canada. Journal of Education Administration, 51(1), 40-54. doi:10.1108/09578231311291422

Pollock, K. (2012). Access, Engagement, and Community Connections. Teaching and Learning, 7(2), 1-­15.

Winton, S., & Pollock, K. (2011). Teaching policy by collaborating across borders. Academic Exchange Quarterly, 15(4), 143 - 148.

Pollock, K. (2006). Policy as outcome: Inequities generated from unintended policy outcomes.Canadian and International Education, 35(2), 35-47.

For a complete list of publications, see the CV.(PDF, .43 MB)

Teaching and Supervision

CPED 9688 - Special Topics in Educational Leadership: Aims of Educational Leadership

9600 - Ontario Educational Policy in a Global Context

9507 - Graduate Seminar in School Leadership

9678 - Diverse Traditions: Approaches to Educational Research

5499 - Occasional Teaching

5002 - Social Foundations of Education




The Knowledge Network for Applied Education Research (KNAER)

Centre for Leadership and Diversity

The International Successful School Principalship Project (ISSPP)

Research Brokering in Education


The Replacements - Non-permanent Teachers

Occasional Teachers' Access to Professional Learning