Examining changes in role conceptualization in aspiring principals

Christopher W McGinley, University of Pennsylvania


The purpose of this research is to better understand how aspiring principals conceptualize the role of school leadership as schools and school districts are forced to confront and address the demands of accountability. Understanding this information may contribute to a better understanding of how to prepare new principals for their role and how to support novice principals in their work. Research on the impact of NCLB accountability measures on leadership and instructional practice is emerging. Much of the available research looks at expanding roles of the federal and state education policy and the impact on practice. Much of the literature on accountability is tied to broader issues of school reform or school reform models. The relationship between accountability programs and the acceleration of school reform has been established in several studies. The need to develop a more qualified pool of applicants for positions of school leadership is motivating the design of the Highly Qualified Principal (HQP) Institute at Delaware County Intermediate Unit. The literature serves two related but distinct purposes: the design of the HQP program, and an understanding of the factors influencing role conceptualization. In the literature review I examine: (1) issues that are contributing to the shortage of qualified applicants for school leadership positions; (2) the contributions and limitations of university based licensure programs; (3) the impact of accountability on the complex nature of school leadership; (4) emerging definitions of instructional leadership and; (5) factors influencing role socialization. A qualitative methodology is consistent with the design of the preparation program. The program's exact content is socially constructed by the participants and program leadership. The flexibility inherent in qualitative methodologies is consistent with the constructivist approach of program design. The notion of role conceptualization is based on an interpretive constructivist approach to understanding how individuals come to understand the role of principal through the lens of their beliefs and experiences. The outcome of this study will be used to inform future iterations of the HQP Institute and may be used to support program expansion to other locations.

Subject Area

School administration|Special education

Recommended Citation

McGinley, Christopher W, "Examining changes in role conceptualization in aspiring principals" (2008). Dissertations available from ProQuest. AAI3310484.