Dr. Matthew Shirrell
Dr. Matthew Shirrell
Associate Professor, Educational Leadership and Administration
School: Graduate School of Education and Human Development
Department: Educational Leadership, Cross-Disciplinary
Matthew Shirrell is an Associate Professor of Educational Leadership and Administration in the Graduate School of Education and Human Development at George Washington University. His research explores the relationships between policy, the social and organizational characteristics of schools and school systems, and learning, improvement, and teacher retention.
Much of Dr. Shirrell’s current work uses interviews and social network analysis to understand teachers’ and school leaders’ advice and information seeking about instruction, including the factors that predict both seeking and being sought out for advice; how advice seeking and giving change throughout teachers’ and school leaders’ careers; and the impacts of policy changes on who teachers and school leaders talk to about their work. For 2020-21, he was awarded a National Academy of Education/Spencer Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship for his study of National Board-certified teachers’ roles in their colleagues learning and improvement, focusing particularly on how colleagues’ perceptions of the knowledge and expertise of Board certified teachers shapes the leadership of Board-certified teachers in their schools.
Dr. Shirrell’s work has also focused at the organizational level, exploring the roles that partnerships with outside research organizations play in school district learning and improvement. Dr. Shirrell has served as co-principal investigator for a longitudinal comparative case study of two research alliances that partnered with large urban districts. In this work, Dr. Shirrell and his colleagues have explored the ways that research alliances support district learning and improvement, and the roles of organizational design and shifting conceptions of legitimacy in supporting and hindering these organizations’ work to build district learning and improvement.
Dr. Shirrell’s work has also examined the impacts of federal, state, and local policies on school working conditions and the retention of teachers and school leaders. This work has explored a variety of areas, including the effects of No Child Left Behind’s subgroup-specific accountability on teacher turnover, attrition, and teaching assignments; the role of school working conditions in shaping student teachers’ career plans; and new principals’ efforts to build their teachers’ trust and commitment when they take over highly pressured, low-performing schools.
Dr. Shirrell’s work has been funded by the National Academy of Education/Spencer Foundation, the William T. Grant Foundation, the Walton Family Foundation, the Chan/Zuckerberg Initiative, the American Educational Research Association, and the Albert Shanker Institute. Dr. Shirrell earned a Ph.D. in Human Development and Social Policy from Northwestern University, a M.S. in Early Childhood Education from Erikson Institute, and a B.A. in English from Grinnell College. Prior to joining the faculty of George Washington University, Dr. Shirrell was a post-doctoral fellow with the Distributed Leadership Study at the School of Education and Social Policy at Northwestern University.