Educational leadership and the perceptions of principals and vice principals in Manitoba on their professional development

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Young, Dorothy Y.
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The purpose of this mixed methods study was to determine from public school principals and vice principals in Manitoba their perceptions of the quality of the professional development in which they have participated during their careers, with a focus on the purposes for which they engage in professional development, their perceptions of its effectiveness, and how it has contributed to their development as educational leaders. These experiences were compared by the independent variables of gender, context (rural, urban or northern), position (principal or vice principal) and type of school (early, middle or senior years). This research included both a voluntary online questionnaire completed by 78 school-based administrators (8.2% of the population surveyed) and fifteen interviews, representative samples of the population. Conceptually, this thesis draws upon the work of Thomas Guskey’s (2002, 2003a) four criteria for effective professional development of teachers and applies them to administrators: a) having as its ultimate goal improving student outcomes; b) importance of context in the design and implementation of the intended learning; c) the utilization of research- based content and decision making; and d) the need for constant evaluation of professional development opportunities. The findings of the study show that school-based administrators generally believe that the professional development opportunities available to them have been effective in developing their leadership capacity. However, the study found that professional development activities are rarely evaluated, and that the purpose of student learning comes second to that of administrative management, which may be a reflection of the current accountability climate and the recent turnovers of administrators across the province. Ultimately, the study did not find that all four criteria must be in place at all times for administrators to conclude that professional development activities are effective as defined by the individuals. The findings also suggest that administrators tend to value most highly those professional development opportunities that are individualized and/or localized and supported by the school or school division. Finally, administrators remain divided on their view about mandatory certification of administrators; however, they are in agreement that the criteria for certification should be revised to include standards of professional practice.
educational administration, education, professional development, principals, vice principals, leadership, certification, administration