Date of Award
Doctor of Education (EdD)
Department of Educational Administration and Foundations: College Student Personnel Administration
This study is designed to investigate the perceptions of elementary school principals in the state of Arkansas regarding what supports they need to be effective instructional leaders. Phase I of this mixed method study uses an online survey of 112 elementary school principals to better understand their descriptions of an effective instructional leader and the professional development supports they need. Phase II consists of personal interviews of 12 elementary school principals. The research revealed four overarching themes: Personal Attributes, Values Relationships, Leadership Skill Sets, and Meaningful Professional Development. Principals described effective leaders as visionaries, hospitable, empowering others, visible, good listeners, collaborators, ethical, and ones who improve instruction, manage people, data, and foster school improvement. The research data showed that adult learners learn through problem solving, mentoring, and in one-on-one coaching situations. They expressed a need for professional development that was applicable, used real-life situations, and was designed to improve their understanding of new concepts and ideas. Specifically, principals requested professional development on topics including progress monitoring, intervention strategies, improving achievement among at-risk students, time management, teacher evaluation systems, and new curricula. Principals requested more support from human resources, specifically, the hiring of additional assistant principals who could assist with managerial tasks related to discipline, evaluations for classified staff, bus duty, and special education compliance issues, thus allowing more time for principals to embrace their roles as instructional leaders and to internalize the impact of their efforts on student achievement. Participating principals suggested district administrators arrange more frequent opportunities for principals to visit other schools and to meet with principals in their districts to gain a unified understanding of new information. They suggested that district administrators provide professional development in more comfortable locations and in small group settings that incorporate time to evaluate the impact of different strategies on students’ academic performance. Finally, they desired professional development facilitated by high profile keynote speakers who are deemed as experts in their fields, as well as professional development that focuses on administrators’ skills sets, progress monitoring, and migrant students.
Geren, Lisa Lee, "Principals' Perceptions of Professional Development: Options That Support Effective Leadership" (2016). Theses and Dissertations. 615.