Date of Award

Spring 2021

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Educational Foundations & Leadership


Educational Leadership

Committee Director

Karen Sanzo

Committee Member

Joanna Garner

Committee Member

Rachel White


Secondary school administrators play a vital role as instructional leaders, specifically those that are aimed at improving students’ learning of science content (Hill & Grossman, 2013). Unfortunately, administrators rarely have a background in science (Halverson et al., 2011). Little is known about an administrator's knowledge of science practices and their ability to support science instruction at the secondary level. The purpose of this mixed-methods study was to explore the relationship between the structure and focus of an administrator’s instructional roles and their capacity to foster quality science support and instruction for teachers and students. Administrators' perceptions of effective support actions were captured from Q-Methodology sorts, a post-sort questionnaire, and focus group interviews, which are part of the InQuiry research method. Questionnaire responses and interviews were also used to explore what administrators noticed during a science lesson and the type of feedback and support they would provide a teacher. Three distinct administrator perspectives emerged from the data collected in this study: Effective Encouragers; R.E.C. (Relationships, Encouragement and Curriculum) League; and Eye in the Sky. Findings were consistent with previous research about instructional leadership and science practices. Participants valued positive teacher-student relationships and high expectations for all students, but how they went about supporting teachers was very different. There is a need for developing the capacity of administrators to effectively support teachers in their implementation of the science practices reflected in current reform efforts.


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