Javiera Marfan

I am a Chilean sociologist with a master’s degree in public policy and management, now in my final year as a PhD student in Education at Cambridge. I have worked in both educational research and policymaking in Chile, focused on school leadership, policy implementation and school improvement. My doctoral research focuses on the Chilean system of education quality assurance, considered as a case of hybrid reform in which a broad set of educational goals interacts with policy mechanisms based on high stakes accountability. I am analysing this reform’s enactment process in Chilean primary schools with the aim of contributing to a better understanding of the educational goals that prevail as a result of the reform, as well as the role that the policy, school staff and organisational context play in shaping it.

Before coming to Cambridge, I studied my undergraduate degree in sociology and then a master’s in public policy and management. My professional life has always been related to education research and policy, with a focus on school leadership, school improvement and policy implementation analysis. After ten years of working in Chile, I decided moving to Cambridge to pursue my PhD in Education, supported by the Cambridge Trust and ANID-Chile.

I am now in my final year of the doctoral process. My doctoral research focuses on analysing a case of Education reform hybridisation, provided by the Chilean System of Education Quality Assurance, in which a broad understanding of education’s goals coexists with a high-stakes accountability system based on students’ results as measured by standardised tests. My research attempts to identify how schools solve the eventual contradiction between these interacting policy goals and accountability mechanisms, which reflect two different approaches to the idea of the purpose of Education in society. I aim to identify what is the enacted version of this hybrid reform, in terms of the goals that school prioritise, and to what extent those implementation decisions are motivated by aspects of the policy and by schools staff’s sense-making process. 

Operationally, I am using educational change theories to observe the policy as it is put into practice. That means that, while my research questions are motivated by educational sociology and policy sociology, the conceptual frameworks that I am using to approach their answers are influenced by psychology-based perspectives, such as sense-making and cultural-historical activity theory (CHAT). Methodologically I am doing embedded case studies in four urban primary schools in Santiago, Chile, in which I am doing interviews to school leaders and teachers, as well as observation of staff meetings and school document analysis.


  • Weinsten, J., Peña, J., Marfán, J. & Raczynski, D. (2019). Chapter 12 Building Teachers’ Trust in Principals and Colleagues: A Study of Critical Incidents in Chilean Schools. In: Emotion Management and Feelings in Teaching and Educational LeadershipA Cultural Perspective, edited by Oplatka, I. & Arar, K. (2019), 237-256. Emeral Publishing.
  • Marfán, J. & Pascual, J. (2017). Comparative study of school principals’ leadership practices: Lessons for Chile from a cross-country analysis. Educational Management, Administration & Leadership, 46 (2), 279-300. doi:10.1108/978-1-78756-010-920191018. SAGE
  • Weinstein, J., Marfán, J. & Horn, A. Chile (2016). School leadership challenged by double accountability towards schools. Educational Accountability: international perspectives on challenges and possibilities for school leadership. Edited by Easley, J. & Tulowitzki, P., 2016. 54-72. Routledge.
  • Cox, C., De Padua, E., Meckes, L., Weinstein, J., Muñoz, G. &  Marfán, J. (2013). Learning Standards, Teaching Standards and Standards for School Principals. A comparative study. OECD.
  • Marfán, J., Muñoz, G. & Weinstein, J. (2012). Liderazgo directivo y prácticas docentes: Evidencia a partir del caso chileno. Organización y Gestión Educativa. Revista del Fórum Europeo de Administradores de la Educación N° XCV-Year XX
  • Weinstein, J., Muñoz, G. & Marfán, J. (2012). La direction pédagogique des chefs d’établessiment, un defi à relever. Le cas du Chili. Revue Internationale D’Éducation. Le metier e chef d’établissiment. SEVRES N°60 81-92
  • Weinstein, J., Muñoz, G, & Marfán, J. (2012) Liderar bajo presión: las estrategias gestionadas por los directores de escuela para alcanzar los resultados comprometidos. ¿Qué sabemos sobre los Directores de Escuela en Chile? Edited by Weinstein, J. & Muñoz, G. (2012). CEPPE.
  • Weinstein, J., Marfán, J. y Muñoz, G. (2012) ¿Colegas y jefes?: La visión de los docentes sobre el liderazgo directivo en Chile. ¿Qué sabemos sobre los Directores de Escuela en Chile? Edited by Weinstein, J. & Muñoz, G. (2012). CEPPE.
  • Muñoz, G. y Marfán, J. (2011) Competencias y Formación para un Liderazgo Efectivo en Chile. Revista Pensamiento Educativo, 48 (1) 63-80
  • Horn, A., Marfán, J. (2010). Relación entre Liderazgo Educativo y Desempeño Escolar: Revisión de la Investigación en Chile. Revista Psicoperspectivas, 9(2), 82-104.
  • Weinstein, J., Muñoz, G., Concha, C., Garay, S., Horn, A., Marfán, J., Uribe, M. y Volante, P. (2009). Prácticas de liderazgo directivo y resultados de aprendizaje. Hacia conceptos capaces de guiar la investigación empírica. Revista Iberoamericana sobre Calidad, Eficacia y Cambio en Educación, 7(3), 20-33. 

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