Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

iPrincipal: A Multiple Case Study on the Challenges and Leadership Practices of Virtual School Principals
by Gustafson, David C., Ed.D., University of La Verne, 2019, 140; 13814029
Abstract (Summary)

Purpose. The purpose of this qualitative multiple-case study was to explore the challenges facing virtual school principals and how these leaders navigate these challenges. This study explored the experiences, practices, beliefs, and opinions of virtual school principals as they confront these challenges and lead their innovative schools. Theoretical Foundation. The work of Kouzes and Posner’s (2012) 5 practices of exemplary leadership model and Bass’s (1985) transformational leadership theory served as a theoretical foundation for this study.

Methodology. This study utilized a qualitative multiple-case study research method. Data were collected through semistructured, one-on-one interviews with 12 public, private, and charter virtual school principals from across California.

Findings and Conclusions. Following the data collection and data analysis process, the findings from this study confirm the results from a 2015 study conducted by Richardson, LaFrance, and Beck; however, the findings in this study indicated some notable differences in ranking from the 2015 study. Six additional challenges were also uncovered in this study. The study identified 6 essential skills and 6 ways in which virtual principals overcome challenges. These themes included being open to new ideas, taking positive risks, staying flexible, empowering staff, communicating effectively, serving stakeholders. Other themes included being a visionary leader, taking positive risks, learning from mistakes, staying mission-focused, trusting their followers, and empowering others.

Recommendations. As virtual school options continue to evolve, so too will the challenges that leaders face. In order for leaders meet these challenges, leaders must possess a number of essential skills to overcome these challenges. Practitioners should engage in regular, meaningful professional development centered on honing these essential skills. School boards and district office staff also need to demonstrate a continued commitment to providing virtual school leaders the necessary resources to successfully operate these schools. Finally, university administrator preparation programs need to include exposure to online learning leadership and offer virtual school leadership certification.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Haque, Md.
Commitee: Rutherford, Gary, Wood, Marcus
School: University of La Verne
Department: Education
School Location: United States -- California
Source: DAI-A 80/08(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Source Type: DISSERTATION
Subjects: Educational leadership, Educational administration, Educational technology
Keywords: Alternative education, Kouzes and Posner, Leadership, Online learning, Principal, Virtual school
Publication Number: 13814029
ISBN: 9781392065860
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