Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Superintendent use of Twitter: Learning, leading and leveraging through social media
by Roth, Michael Q., Ed.D., University of Pennsylvania, 2016, 187; 10241847
Abstract (Summary)

Technological advancements in society demand that students learn in contexts that take advantage of the vast availability of information, tools, and connectivity. Although research has focused on the development of Personal Learning Networks (PLNs) to inform and support teachers and principals within these evolving environments (Barkley, 2012; Carpenter & Krutka, 2014; Sinanis, 2015; Visser, Evering & Barrett, 2004), there is a lack of formal learning opportunities for leadership to support this transformation. Further, limited empirical research exists to substantiate claims that school district leaders who use social media for PLN purposes learn about, share, and enact leadership to support organizational transformation.

To help fill this gap in the knowledge base, this study employed a four-stage mixed-method research study to investigate United States public school superintendents use of Twitter for learning, leading, and leveraging improvement. Stage one established the population of United States superintendents with Twitter accounts. Stage two drew a random sample from the population to analyze representative Twitter patterns. Stage three focused on coding randomly sampled tweets of 100 superintendents for content aligned to the conceptual framework of learning, leading and leveraging through Twitter. Coding results framed stage four, which presented case studies of a purposeful sample of superintendents to identify motivations, purposes and influence on leadership enactment through Twitter use.

The study results showed that approximately 17% of U.S. superintendents have Twitter accounts. The Twitter-using superintendents reflect the gender breakdown of American superintendents, but Midwestern superintendents are overrepresented. Superintendents use Twitter predominantly for professional reasons with tweet content demonstrating a higher inclination toward leveraging influence than learning or leading. Superintendents purposefully use Twitter in ways they believe enhances their leadership by providing transparency to their work and district accomplishments. Through connections with others, superintendents use Twitter to inspire and communicate a vision for purposeful change; advocate for funding and policy; and model effective technology use through PLNs to enhance learning and collegial relationships. Additionally, Twitter enhanced off-line interactions and provided connection with students, offering professional wisdom about their experiences within school systems. The study provides insights of how social media contributes to digital leadership within school districts.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Supovitz, Jonathan A.
Commitee: Stornaiuolo, Amy, Ziegenfuss, Randy M.
School: University of Pennsylvania
Department: Educational and Organizational Leadership
School Location: United States -- Pennsylvania
Source: DAI-A 78/05(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Educational leadership, School administration, Educational technology
Keywords: Personal learning networks, School superintendents, Social media, Twitter, United States
Publication Number: 10241847
ISBN: 978-1-369-46887-8
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