Principal Professional Development: A Multiple Case Exploratory Study of District-Led Aspiring Principal Programs Through the Lens of Knowledge Management

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Principal Professional Development: A Multiple Case Exploratory Study of District-Led Aspiring Principal Programs Through the Lens of Knowledge Management

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Title: Principal Professional Development: A Multiple Case Exploratory Study of District-Led Aspiring Principal Programs Through the Lens of Knowledge Management
Author: Barnes, Frank Derek
Citation: Barnes, Frank Derek. 2015. Principal Professional Development: A Multiple Case Exploratory Study of District-Led Aspiring Principal Programs Through the Lens of Knowledge Management. Doctoral dissertation, Harvard Graduate School of Education.
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Abstract: Research establishes that a positive relationship exists between principal instructional leadership and student achievement (Brewer, 1993; Eberts and Stone, 1988; Hallinger and Heck, 1998; Leithwood, Seashore Louis, Anderson, and Wahlstrom, 2004). Likewise, research indicates that a principal’s ability to influence the purpose and goals of a school, its structure and social networks, its teachers’ commitment, instructional practices, and organizational culture produces statistically significant effects on student achievement (Hallenger and Heck, 1998). In short, school leadership matters. Unfortunately, we are facing a shortage of effective principals, forcing many district superintendents to sometimes settle and take what they can get when looking for principals (Farkas, Johnson, Duffett, Foleno and Foley, 2001). Confronted with a growing school leadership challenge, a number of urban school districts have developed their own principal training programs. Although several of these programs appear promising, it is unclear if school districts have been able to create principal preparation programs that focus on preparing instructional leaders and improve on traditional university-led programs, which are often critiqued as irrelevant and outdated.

This study takes an in-depth look at two district-led aspiring principal programs to determine if they overcame the problems that have plagued university-led programs. Specifically, I examine if the two programs developed a solid knowledge base, overcame causal ambiguity and provided a set of learning experiences that went beyond canonical practices. To perform this examination I conducted a multiple case exploratory study utilizing qualitative research methodology. I conducted my analysis using a unique analytic lens – knowledge management – framing the findings presented here through this lens.

This study finds that the programs examined had a solid knowledge base with an emphasis on instructional and community/shared leadership, providing descriptive knowledge (know-what) and procedural knowledge (know-how). However, both programs failed to create systematic, consistent access to causal knowledge (know-why). Data also revealed that despite the aforementioned shortcoming, both programs delivered on learning experiences that went beyond canonical practices. However, variability in program participants’ field experiences weakened claims that the programs studied provided experiences that mirrored the realities of practice consistently for all participants.
Terms of Use: This article is made available under the terms and conditions applicable to Other Posted Material, as set forth at http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:dash.current.terms-of-use#LAA
Citable link to this page: http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:16461046
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