Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

School Leaders and Networks: Understanding Principal Peer Dialogue as a Resource for Professional Learning
by Farag-Davis, S. Ayesha, Ph.D., Lesley University, 2013, 199; 3602609
Abstract (Summary)

Because their role is highly complex, school principals require ongoing professional learning to lead effectively and respond to the challenges inherent to school leadership. Networking among principals is frequently identified as a valuable source of professional learning for school leaders. Nevertheless, existing literature applies the term to a wide variety of principal relationships and affiliations, and there is little research that examines networking among principals and its effects upon their skills, knowledge, and convictions. This qualitative study, based on phenomenological research methods, investigates how networking promotes experienced principals’ professional growth through an exploration of what principals report about the nature, characteristics, and benefits of peer dialogue. Participants identified through purposeful selection included twenty-one practicing elementary or middle school principals from Maine and Massachusetts with at least five years experience who indicated that dialogue with role-alike peers is useful to them in their practice. Data were collected through focus group sessions, individual interviews, participant responses to a writing prompt, and work artifacts.

Participants in this study report that their practice is most influenced through interactions with peers characterized by high levels of trust. Findings indicate that peer learning networks provide instructive and affective support through dialogue that promotes principals’ development within three domains: leadership inventory, leadership judgment, and leadership integrity. Moreover, while peer learning networks can be a resource for principals’ learning, the manner in which they engage in dialogue may have consequences for whether they experience transformative learning that makes them more able to address adaptive challenges in their schools. Principals’ accounts suggest that superintendents are well situated to create conditions principals need to develop their skills, knowledge, and attitudes to effectively lead. Additional research is recommended to further explore peer dialogue processes as well as the factors that enhance or impede the development of school leaders’ adaptive capacity through participation in peer learning networks.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Naso, Paul
Commitee: Conley, Judith, Middleton, Michael
School: Lesley University
Department: School of Education
School Location: United States -- Massachusetts
Source: DAI-A 75/03(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Educational leadership, School administration
Keywords: Dialogue, Leadership, Learning, Networks, Peer dialogue, Principals, Professional development
Publication Number: 3602609
ISBN: 978-1-303-55689-0
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