Date of Award

Spring 2020

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Educational Foundations & Leadership


Educational Leadership

Committee Director

Karen L. Sanzo

Committee Member

William Owings

Committee Member

John Baaki


The purpose of this study is to investigate how principals learn to be technology leaders by examining the different ways principals learn and exploring the skills principals perceive are needed. The study also examines what principals do differently to develop a successful technology integration (or not). Using the critical incident method, 18 principals were interviewed from across the state. The in-depth interviews were transcribed for all participants interviewed and then analyzed using coding and theming with the aid of memos. From this, three predominant categories emerged: learning, skills, and challenges.

The findings from the study reveal that principals learn primarily through three different methods, with the most important one being professional development. Professional development is through face-to-face or online learning using their professional learning networks to guide them in developing the needed knowledge. The principals also learn by talking with others and learning on their own. The three areas the principals use to learn are their experiences, initiative, and reflection, which align with the common areas found in adult learning. The skills principals use to be technology leaders were found to be consistent with the skills described in the ISTE framework for educational leaders. Furthermore, principals face certain challenges while trying to be technology leaders and to integrate technology. Lastly, principals distinguished what they did differently for a technology integration to be successful (or not).

The study concludes that principals can learn to be technology leaders, by using the right tools and by developing the necessary skills to be successful. The findings revealed the need for professional development on technological tools to be purposeful and fit the different needs of principals and teachers. For a technology integration to be successful, the professional development should not be a one-time meeting, but ongoing in order to provide continuous support and guidance for principals and teachers. Also, districts should make principals aware of the skills listed by ISTE for principals to be technology leaders. For some, knowing the skills needed will help them transform into technology leaders, allowing them to guide teachers to understand what they need to do in the classroom to be successful.


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