Principals' perceptions of the essential components of sustainable leadership and implications for succession planning at the elementary school level : A mixed methods research study
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The primary purpose of this study was to examine principals’ perceptions of the essential components of sustainable leadership at the elementary school level. The secondary focus was to examine principals’ perceptions of present succession-planning practices to see if there were implications for succession-planning. The challenges of providing sustainable leadership in a context of rapid change, globalization, advances in technology, and demands for more accountability warranted further investigation. Using pragmatism as a philosophical base the researcher determined that a Mixed Methods Research Methodology would provide the most fully informed answers to the research questions. A Sequential Exploratory Research Design was selected with a first phase that was primarily quantitative followed by a second phase that was qualitative. Methods employed in data collection were: development of a survey instrument and implementation of the survey in phase one and semi-structured interviews in phase two. The research was carried out in two urban school divisions and two randomly selected rural school divisions in Saskatchewan. A total of 50 principals from the four school divisions participated in the survey, 10 principals served on interpretive panels and 11 principals were interviewed. The analysis of phase one included a statistical analysis of the responses to the closed questions and theme analysis to the responses for the open-ended questions. This was followed by the use of interpretive panels in each school division to provide further insights into the analysis. Semi-structured interviews in phase two were transcribed and member checks were completed. Theme analysis was then conducted. A case study utilizing both quantitative and qualitative data was developed for each school division and a composite case study for all four school divisions. Joint display was used as a method to integrate data from the survey, the interpretive panels, and the interviews. This helped to establish the major findings of the study. A Kruskal Wallis Test revealed significant differences based on context, the principal’s years of administrative experience, the principal’s years of tenure as principal of this school, and the principal’s gender. Findings of this study suggested that principals value collaboration, shared leadership and alignment of school, division, and provincial goals. Principals believed teachers need more professional development in the area of data management, updated criteria for formal leadership positions need to be established and communicated, principals could benefit by formal mentorship, principals want more input regarding what professional development they will be offered and steps could be taken to encourage principals to remain in their position as principals. Due to the small size of the sample the findings of this study need to be interpreted with caution. However, the four school divisions involved in the study can be guided by the findings of this study, as they work to strengthen sustainable leadership and to provide supportive succession-planning practices. This study can also serve as a guide for future research in the area of sustainable leadership and/or succession planning. This future research may include further refinement of the survey instrument.
DegreeDoctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
CommitteePrytula, Michelle; Renihan, Patrick; Claypool, Tim
Copyright DateDecember 2011
Leadership for learning
Elementary school principal