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Sensemaking during the induction phase of socialization of a neophyte principal : a researcher's reflections

Date

1999-01-01

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Type

Degree Level

Doctoral

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to provide a phenomenological, postmodern description of the induction phase of socialization as experienced by a neophyte principal and a researcher within a rural context. The research involved two actors: one secondary school principal as the co-researcher and myself in the bifurcated role of primary researcher and participant observer in an anticipatory induction mode. From the perspective of the co-researcher, the central phenomenon explored was: 'What sensemaking did the neophyte principal develop to enable him to function in the educational organization'? With the phenomenological perspective of experiencing the social world through one's own lens, my own sensemaking provided the culminating, over-riding, issue-oriented questions: ' What sensemaking did I develop in the context of the principal's experiences, and what outcroppings and ideas fascinated me in terms of the principal's experiences'? Within the forty transcribed separate activities were informal interviews as well as verbatim accounts of the neophyte principal's interactions with students, staff, fellow administrators, trustees, and the community in a variety of meetings and situations. After reflecting upon the verbatim transcripts and his own induction experiences, the co-researcher wrote of his own sensemaking perspective. Four main themes emerged: image management as a prime induction motivator, the identification of and/or influence of significant others, the identification of and/or influence of significant events, and the neophyte principal as role proactive or reactive. Three aspects of induction became manifest: first, the co-researcher identified those with whom he came in contact as either positive or negative referents. Second, he assigned or reassigned valency to those referents as he moved through his induction experience. Third, knowledge of the task environment was a substantial factor in how the neophyte principal approached his role. In terms of sensemaking, it appeared that the principal was proactive in the use of image-building through charisma and consideration of others in his movement from outsider to insider, rather than through use of professional autonomy and task-orientation. Four points became apparent in the research process: One, the degree of centrality is of importance in each individual's sensemaking of the phenomena and ultimately to sensemaking description. Two, immediacy of reflection of the phenomena is essential to quality of analysis; that is, immediacy is imperative for optimum reflective sagacity. The quality of analysis is driven by depth of reflection. Three, this type of study is too risky to be undertaken as a graduate student in pursuit of degree designation, in teams of the possibility of co-researcher withdrawal from the study. Four, the possibility of ethical repercussions exists as a result of the sensemaking. (Abstract shortened by UMI.)

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Degree

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Department

Educational Administration

Program

Educational Administration

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