Faculty of Education, Social Sciences and Law

School of Education

Contact Details

Professor Linda Evans

Professor of Leadership and Professional Learning

I am the academic lead in the field of educational leadership and management, and leader of the Learning, Leadership & Policy academic team.

Educated at Stand Grammar School for Girls (in Whitefield, Manchester) I became an academic in 1990 after a 15-year career as a primary school teacher. Before coming to Leeds I worked at the University of Warwick. I enjoy European travel and learning foreign languages, and as a French student many years ago spent a period of study at the University of Dijon in Burgundy (now l'Université de Bourgogne). More recently, I lived in France in 2011 as visiting professor at the Institut français de l'éducation in Lyon. I remain a fluent French speaker and I speak reasonably fluent German. In my leisure time I enjoy the theatre and visiting historical sites. I am a fan of the website, Onehundredthousand words, and I am a lifelong Manchester United supporter.


  • Teacher's certificate (with distinction), University of Manchester
  • Diploma in Mathematical Education
  • B.Ed (hons.) class I, Lancaster University
  • MA in Education, Lancaster University
  • PhD, University of Warwick
  • Diplôme Approfondi de Langue Française (DALF) level C1

Research Interests

My substantive research interests lie in the broad field of professional working life, including professionalism, professional learning and development, and professional work cultures. I have carried out empirical studies of teachers' and academics' working lives, including factors influencing their morale, job satisfaction and motivation. I have researched what academics, university teachers and researchers think of the quality of academic leadership that they receive from professorial colleagues, and I then followed up that study with one of professorial academic leadership from the perspectives of professors themselves, and a third study that examines the preparation and development of university professors. Most recently I worked on a study of academic journal editors' professionalism. I am currently leading a study of strategic change in higher education, focused on promoting innovative teaching and learning approaches that draw heavily on digital resources. I enjoy developing theory and theoretical perspectives that are not context-specific, such as conceptual analyses and theoretical models. 

I have a strong interest in educational leadership and management (in particular, the much-neglected perspective of 'the led'). Much of my recent research has been located in the context of higher education, but I am equally interested in issues related to working life in the compulsory education sector. I am particularly interested in researcher development and the development of research cultures and research capacity.

My latest book, Academic Identities in Higher Education: the Changing European Landscape, edited with Jon Nixon, will be published in 2015.

My list of publications may be accessed by the link on the left of this page, or on my Google Scholar profile.

Recent and current funded research projects

Leading professors: examining the perspectives of the led in relation to professorial leadership - funded by the Leadership Foundation for Higher Education (with co-investigators Professor Steve Rayner from Oxford Brookes University and Dr Matt Homer, University of Leeds) 2011-12.

Professorial academic leadership in turbulent times: the professoriate's perspective - funded by the Leadership Foundation for Higher Education (with co-investigators Dr Justine Mercer from the University of Warwick and Dr Matt Homer, University of Leeds) March 2012- February 2013

'Leadership preparation and development for UK-based university professors' - funded by the British Educational Leadership, Management and Administration Society (BELMAS) September 2012-August 2013

Academic journal editors' professionalism: perceptions of power, proficiency and personal agendas - funded by the Society for Research into Higher Education, (with co-investigator, Dr Matt Homer) May 2013-April 2014

'The purpose of professors: professionalism, pressures and performance' - a stimulus paper commissioned by the Leadership Foundation for Higher Education, 2012-13

Improving student learning outcomes through strategic change - funded by the Leadership Foundation for Higher Education, 2014-15 (with co-investigator, Professor Neil Morris)

Editorial responsibilites

I am an associate editor of Educational Management, Adminstration and Leadership.

Recent and forthcoming speaking invitations


I currently teach on the MA in International Educational Management and am responsible for one of its modules: Developing Staff for Institutional Improvement. I am the programme leader for the MA Education (general).

PhD Supervision

I can offer postgraduate research supervision in the following areas, in which I have researched and published widely:

  • morale, job satisfaction and motivation
  • professional development
  • professionalisation and professionalism
  • educational leadership and management
  • teaching and learning in higher education
  • academic practice and working life in the higher education sector
  • qualitative research methodology
  • researcher development
  • research cultures in HE

Current research students

  • JIANG, Fang
  • LODHI, Ahmad
  • MALAR, Uma

Key Publications


  • Evans L (2002) Reflective Practice in Educational Research: developing advanced skills. London: Continuum.

  • Evans L (1998) Teacher Morale, Job Satisfaction and Motivation. London: Paul Chapman/Sage.

Journal Articles

  • Evans L (2014) “A changing role for university professors? Professorial academic leadership as it is perceived by ‘the led’”, British Educational Research Journal.

    Repository URL [eprints.whiterose.ac.uk]

    This article examines the academic leadership role of university professors in the UK (a grade title which in that national context generally refers only to the most distinguished, senior academics, who equate to the North American full professor). Drawing on theoretical interpretations of professionalism and applying these to professors, it analyses selected preliminary findings from a funded study that explored the nature of professorial academic leadership by gathering data from academics, teachers and researchers who are not themselves professors and who thus constitute ‘the led’. The findings revealed an unclearly defined professorial academic leadership role that seems to reflect expectations that professors should be all things to all people, and within which three key features of professorial practice were highlighted: distinction, knowledge, and relationality. The article considers the extent to which this represents a changed or changing role for professors in the UK, and concludes that the notion of the UK-based professor – in the singular – is very elusive.

  • Evans L (2014) “Leadership for professional development and learning: enhancing our understanding of how teachers develop”, Cambridge Journal of Education. 44.2: 179-198.

    Repository URL [eprints.whiterose.ac.uk]

    The educational research community has made great strides in clarifying and enhancing our understanding of professional development and how it occurs. Yet in relation to one question - how do people develop professionally? – this knowledge base falls short, for while much research has been directed at addressing the question, findings have tended to lack the specificity that offers the kind of meaningful elucidation that may usefully inform professional development-focused leadership policy and practice. In particular, the micro-level cognitive process of professional development – what occurs inside an individual’s head in order for her/him to experience a single professional development ‘episode’ - remains under-examined in educational research. This article is intended as a contribution towards addressing this short-fall. It presents the author’s conceptual analyses of professionalism and professional development – revealing the multidimensional componential structure of each – and examines how understanding of this multidimensionality may help school leaders promote and facilitate professional development.

  • Evans L (2014) “What is effective research leadership? A research-informed perspective”, Higher Education Research and Development. 33.1: 46-58.

    Repository URL [eprints.whiterose.ac.uk]

    Drawing upon findings from a UK-based funded study of academic leadership provided by (full) professors, this article focuses on research leadership as perceived by those on the receiving end of it. Research leadership is defined as the influence of one or more people on the research-related behaviour, attitudes or intellectual capacity of others. Three specific features of professorial research leadership are identified and examined: influence that enhances people’s capacity: to make appropriate choices, to achieve requisite standards, and to effect processes within research activity. The author’s conceptual model of researcher development is presented as an indicator of research leadership and its multi-dimensionality.

  • Evans L; Homer MS; Rayner SG (2013) “Professors as academic leaders: the perspectives of 'the led'”, Educational Management Administration & Leadership. 41.5: 674-689.

    Most research and scholarship in the field of educational leadership and management seems focused on leaders and managers and their perspectives, while the perspective of an entire constituency - ‘the led’ - is generally overlooked and neglected. This article contributes towards redressing this imbalance. Located within the context of the higher education sector, it presents findings from one phase of a funded study whose purpose was to examine what non-professorial academics, researchers and teachers employed in British universities think of the academic leadership provided by their professorial colleagues. From data generated by over 1200 questionnaire responses, a wide range of views emerged on what professors should be doing in order to fulfil their leadership roles, and how effectively they are doing it. A key finding was that, whilst most respondents agreed that professors should be providing academic leadership to junior colleague - typically, as mentors or advisors - more than half of the sample reported that they were not receiving the help and advice that they wanted or needed.

  • Evans L (2013) “The professional status of educational research: professionalism and developmentalism in 21st century working life”, British Journal of Educational Studies. 61.4: 471-490.

    ‘How helpful and how necessary is it for at least some of us to see ourselves as professional educational researchers?’ asked Donald McIntyre in his 1996 presidential address to the British Educational Research Association (McIntyre, 1997, p. 127). Still pertinent to consideration of the direction in which the British educational research community ought to focus its development, this question is revisited through examination of whether or not educational research is a profession. Located within a sociological framework, the paper first examines some of the earliest work that established the sociology of professions as a field of study. It then compares this with recent work in the field, before considering whether or not – against the various criteria for professional status that these studies identify - educational research(ing) may be categorised as a profession. Using Noordegraaf’s (2007) three categories, the case is examined for considering educational research(ing) a ‘pure’, a ‘hybrid’ or a ‘situated’ profession. The conclusion is that it represents none of these, but that, within the context of 21st century working life, this is less important than the need for educational research to embrace a culture of developmentalism.

  • Evans L; Cosnefroy L (2013) “The dawn of a new academic professionalism in the French academy? Academics facing the challenges of change”, Studies in Higher Education. 38.8: 1201-1221.

    Using as an analytical framework Evans’s (2011) conceptualisation of professionalism, this article examines the implications for academic professionalism in the French higher education sector of reforms and significant changes that have evolved over the last few decades, including: the Investissements d’Avenir programme, the Loi de programme pour la recherche, the Loi liberté et responsabilité des universités, increasing massification, and the drive to boost undergraduate student retention. Drawing upon comparative cases of parallel changes to higher education in other national contexts, and identifying changes to academic professionalism in relation to Evans’s three components (behavioural, attitudinal and intellectual), and eleven dimensions, of professionalism, the authors sketch out the ‘shape’ and outline the nature of a new academic professionalism that they believe has been set in motion and that they envisage evolving in France.

  • Evans L (2012) “Leadership for researcher development: What research leaders need to know and understand”, Educational Management, Administration and Leadership. 40.4: 423-435.

    Research leadership, a much neglected area of educational leadership and management, is disadvantaged by having an underdeveloped and inadequate knowledge base. This article represents a contribution to this knowledge base through a conceptual analysis. It presents as propositional knowledge an original theoretical model of the componential structure of researcher development, as interpreted and defined stipulatively by the author. Three key components are identified: behavioural development; attitudinal development; and intellectual development. Each of these is further deconstructed to reveal its sub-components, of which 11 in total are identified, including: processual change; perceptual change; analytical change; and comprehensive change. Drawing upon examples of qualitative data found in the literature, the author demonstrates the model’s potential as an analytical framework for enhancing our understanding of what researcher development is and how it occurs. This, she argues, represents knowledge that is invaluable to university-based research leaders. In particular, it is important that research leaders recognize the width, multidimensionality and complexity of researcher development: that it is much more than changing observable behaviour and increasing productivity and output; it also involves changing viewpoints, mindsets and perceptions and increasing intellectual capacity.

  • Evans L (2011) “The ‘shape’ of teacher professionalism in England: professional standards, performance management, professional development, and the changes proposed in the 2010 White Paper”, British Educational Research Journal. 37.5: 851-870.

    Teacher professionalism in England may be considered to have been shaped by the set of professional standards, and the accompanying statutory performance management system, introduced by the Labour government in 2007. More recently the coalition government’s 2010 White Paper, The Importance of Teaching, announced reforms that will potentially re-shape teacher professionalism. In this article I examine the ‘shape’ of teacher professionalism in England, as defined by the professional standards. I reveal it to be a lop-sided shape, indicating a professionalism that focuses predominantly on teachers’ behaviour, rather than on their attitudes and their intellectuality. Presenting my conceptual analysis of professionalism, and examination of its link with professional development, I consider whether—and to what extent—teacher professionalism may in fact be shaped by government-imposed reform. I conclude that ‘enacted’ professionalism may be quite different from ‘demanded’ professionalism, and shaping professionalism involves a complex and indecipherable process that is better understood by examining the process whereby individuals develop professionally.

  • Evans L (2008) “Professionalism, professionality and the development of education professionals”, BRIT J EDUC STUD. 56.1: 20-38.

    Repository URL [eprints.whiterose.ac.uk]

© Copyright Leeds 2015