Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Instructional Leadership: How Principals Conceptualize Their Roles as School Leaders
by Cooper, Caryn D., Ed.D., University of Pennsylvania, 2017, 145; 10284315
Abstract (Summary)

Several research studies in education have shown there is a strong correlation between K-12 school principals, instructional leadership, and student achievement (Liethwood, Seashore-Louis, Anderson, & Wahlstrom, 2004; Waters, Marzano, & McNulty, 2003). Research has further revealed that, second only to the classroom teacher, principals have a tremendous impact on student learning outcomes (Davis, Darling-Hammond, LaPointe, & Meyerson, 2005). While researchers vary in defining the level of impact, most agree that principals have an indirect impact on student achievement, and extant studies have recognized that principals are critical to student learning. Yet, prior studies provide little insight into how principals contextualize their roles.

The primary objective of this study was to understand how early-career principals conceptualized their roles as leaders in schools, as well as the leadership practices used by four elementary/middle school principals.

A secondary objective of the study was to understand how principals’ preparation, professional development, and other activities informed their conceptions and practices. The four principals in the study were asked about their preparation as well as any ongoing professional development they may have received.

Qualitative methods of in-depth interviewing, on-site visits, and artifact collection were used to collect data from the four principals. The findings from this study revealed that principals’ roles were complex. The findings further revealed that principals did not feel that they were prepared to carry out their roles as instructional leadership. A major contribution of this study was related to understanding a principal’s trajectory to school leadership and how they were prepared. Given the limitations expressed by the principals, it is necessary for districts, state education departments and principal preparation programs to further investigate and develop programs to strengthen principals’ school leadership. Further research is also needed in understanding how principals utilize their time, including building the capacity of teacher leaders and other stakeholders in the school.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Remillard, Janine
Commitee: Nabors Olah, Leslie, Waff, Diane
School: University of Pennsylvania
Department: Educational and Organizational Leadership
School Location: United States -- Pennsylvania
Source: DAI-A 79/01(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Educational leadership, Educational administration
Keywords: Conceptualize, Instructional leadership, Principals, Roles, School leaders
Publication Number: 10284315
ISBN: 978-0-355-21875-6
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