Manitoba principals' perceived changes to their knowledge, skills, dispositions, and practices after partaking in leadership education, and the effects of these changes on student outcomes: an exploratory study

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Allsopp, Connie D. M.
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Does leadership education matter? The purpose of this study was to examine principals’ perceived understandings of the relationships between their participation in leadership education to improvements in student outcomes as the result of their changes in knowledge, skills, and dispositions, and leadership practices. Ten principals were asked to discuss their leadership education experiences in either a master’s degree of education (MEd) with specialization in educational administration or a nondegree professional development (PD) certification program. Manitoba, a Canadian province, has a school leaders’ certification program that requires candidates to possess teaching certificates, have teaching and leadership experience, and meet certain academic requirements. The latter criterion can be achieved through an MEd, a PhD in educational leadership, a series of PD programs, or a combination approved by the ministry of education. Leithwood and Levin’s (2008) model was used as the conceptual framework and in constructing the interview protocol. The protocol also considered insights from Hoyle and Torres’s (2008) habits of scholarship; Robinson and Timperley’s (2007) and Downey, Steffy, English, Frase, and Poston’s (2004) leadership practices; and Manitoba Education, Citizenship, and Youth’s (2006) student outcomes. Participants were interviewed by telephone for 60 to 90 minutes. Member checking confirmed the accuracy of their transcriptions. The principals, who represented schools that spanned Kindergarten to Grade 12, included five men and five women from different regions, and these principals generally had 10 to 20 years of teaching experience and had served as administrators for 5 to 10 years. The 7 MEd graduates reported 5 to 11 changes to practice, and the 3 nondegree PD graduates reported 8 to 9 changes to practice, with a common practice being the provision of educational direction. Principals also reported a shift from top-down leadership to shared leadership and their need to find a new role within learning communities through leadership education. Generally, principals perceived that their changes in leadership practices had a positive effect on student engagement, participation, and achievement. Leithwood and Levin’s (2008) conceptual framework served as a good model for conducting a study on leadership education. This study confirmed that leadership education matters.
Leadership Education, Education, Student Outcomes, Certification, Leadership Practices, Professional Development, Principals, Educational Administration