Karen Beard

Headshot of Karen Beard

Associate Professor, Department of Educational Studies
Program Chair, Department of Educational Studies

Program Areas:

  • Educational Administration
  • Educational Policy

(614) 688-1384

Personal Website


Karen Stansberry Beard, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor of Educational Administration and an Educational Policy affiliate. She is President-Elect of the University Council of Educational Administration (https://www.ucea.org/governance.php). At OSU, Karen teaches Positive Psychology in Educational Administration, The Social and Political Contexts of Education, Ethics, and School and Community Relations.


  • PhD, Educational Administration, The Ohio State University, 2008
  • MA, Educational Administration, The Ohio State University, 1989
  • BS, Elementary Education, K-8, The Ohio State University, 1983

Research Interests

Research Summary

Karen Stansberry Beard’s research focuses on educational administration and leadership development with the intentional exploration of positive psychology and related constructs (e.g., flow PERMA(H) and academic optimism) relative to organizational leadership. She explores the impact of positive psychology on teaching and learning, as well as the implementation of policy supportive of cross-cultural understanding and reducing gaps in achievement. African-American and Latinx student achievement and civil rights legislation are central to her interests. These foci undergird her publications as well as her presentation activities across the United States and internationally.

Dr. Beard’s overall goal of advancing equity in quality-of-life outcomes continues to be realized through three lines of inquiry. Her dissertation introduced Positive Psychology into the field, where she is the first known scholar to introduce flow theory into Educational Administration and Leadership. Central to this line of inquiry is the examination of the usefulness of positive psychology when addressing political and social challenges in educational policy implementation for the well-being of students, teachers, administrators, and communities. Karen has been recognized nationally for cutting edge research this line has generated. Karen has received multiple teaching and research accolades as she pursues “best practices” and predictors of effective organizational leadership and conditions supportive of teacher and student well-being. She is one of the first scholars to introduce Positive Psychology into the work of educational administration and policy implementation and the first known scholar to introduce flow theory into the Educational Administration literature.


Selected Publications

  1. Beard, K. S., Shortt, M. Xie, K. (2024). The Emergence and Escalation of Online Racial Discrimination in Digital Spaces: A Systematic Review.  Review of Educational Research. OnlineFirst - https://doi.org/10.3102/00346543231217459
  2. Stewart, N. D., Beard, K. S., & Kim, M. (2023). Using Quantitative Critical Race Methodology to Explore Teachers’ Perceived Beliefs. Educational PolicyEducational Policy https://doi.org/10.1177/08959048231174879
  3. Zhan, X., Anthony, A. B., Goddard, R., & Beard, K. S. (2023). Development, factor structure, and reliability of the Shared Instructional Leadership Scale in public secondary schools. Educational Management Administration & Leadership, 51(1), 75-94.
  4. Beard, K. S. (2022). When Day Comes We Ask Ourselves, Where Can We find Light in This Never-Ending Shade?: An Introduction to Time for Change. Education and Urban Society. https://doi.org/10.1177/00131245221107230
  5. Bachman, H.F., Daniel, T.K., Beard, K.S. (2022). Do the Societal Benefits from Ability Grouping in Schools Outweigh the Potential Discriminatory Effect?: A Review of IntegrateNYC. West Education Law Reporter.
  6. Beard, K. S., Vakil, J.B., Chao, T., Hilty, C. (2021). Time for Change: Understanding Teacher Social-Emotional Learning Supports for Anti-Racism and Student Well-Being During COVID-19, and Beyond. Education and Urban Society. https://doi.org/10.1177/00131245211062527 
  7. Beard, K. S., Thompson, S. I. (2021). Breaking Barriers: District and School Administrators Engaging Family, and Community as a Key Determinant of Student Success. Urban Education. https://doi.org/10.1177/0042085920987284 
  8. Watkins, S., Anthony, A. A., Beard, K. S. (2020). Principals’ Sensemaking of Leading Under Accountability and Innovation Policies. Leadership and Policy in Schools.  https://doi.org/10.1080/15700763.2020.1734207 
  9. Beard, K. S. (2019). Getting on track: Aligning the achievement gap conversation with ethical educational practice. International Journal of Leadership in Education, 22(1), 30-54. https://doi.org/10.1080/13603124.2018.1503821 
  10. Beard, K. S., Gates, S. (2019). Providing a passport to the future for foster youth: A case for educational leadership and policy. Journal of Cases in Educational Leadership, 22(1), 3-14. https://doi.org/10.1177/1555458918782334 
  11. Beard, K. S. (2018). Toward a theory of Engaged School Leadership: Positive psychology and principal candidates’ sense of engagement and their preparedness to lead engagement. The Psychology of Educational Leadership Special Edition of The Journal of School Leadership 28(6), 742-771. https://doi.org/10.1080/13603124.2018.1503821
  12. Beard, K. S. (2018). Standing in the gap: Theory and practice impacting educational opportunity and achievement gaps. Urban Education, 53(5), 668-696.  https://doi.org/10.1177/0042085915613553. 
  13. Beard, K. S., Adeeko, O. (2018). Charter School Authorization: A New Gateway to Excellence and Equity. Journal of Transformative Leadership and Policy Studies, 7(1), 15-26.  https://doi.org/10.36851/jtlps.v7i1.495  
  14. Beard, K. S., Arnold, N. W., Douglas, T. (2018). Special Issue Introduction: The Psychology of Educational Leadership. Journal of School Leadership 28(6), 712-117. https://doi.org/10.1177/105268461802800601
  15. Beard K. S. (2017). Promises kept or opportunities lost: A wicked problem in educational leadership. Journal of Cases in Educational Leadership, 20(3), 86-103.  https://doi.org/10.1177/1555458916685749. 
  16. Beard, K. S. (2015). Theoretically Speaking: An Interview with Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi on Flow Theory Development and Its Usefulness in Addressing Contemporary Challenges in Education. Educational Psychology Review, 27(2), 353-364. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10648-014-9291-1 
  17. Beard, K. S. (2013). Character in action: A case of authentic educational leadership that advanced equity and excellence. Journal of School Leadership, 23(6), 1015-1046.  https://doi.org/10.1177/105268461302300605 
  18. Beard, K. S. (2012). Making the case for the outlier: Researcher reflections of an African-American female deputy superintendent who decided to close the achievement gap. International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education, 25(1), 57-71.  https://doi.org/10.1080/09518398.2011.647724 
  19. Beard, K. S., Hoy, W.K. (2010). The nature, meaning, and measure of teacher flow in elementary schools: A test of rival hypotheses. Educational Administration Quarterly, 46(3), 426-458.  https://doi.org/10.1177/0013161X10375294 
  20. Beard, K. S., Hoy, W. K., & Woolfolk Hoy, A. (2010). Academic optimism of individual teachers: Confirming a new construct. Teaching and Teacher Education, 26(5), 1136-1144.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tate.2010.02.003 
  21. Beard, K. S., Brown, K.M. (2008). ‘Trusting schools to meet the academic needs of African American students?’ Suburban mothers’ perspectives. The International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education, 21(5), 471-485.  https://doi.org/10.1080/09518390802297763