Date of Award

Spring 2017

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Educational Foundations & Leadership

Committee Director

Jay P. Scribner

Committee Member

Karen Sanzo

Committee Member

Thomas Bean


Excellent school leadership is undeniably linked to improved student achievement. Due to the impact administrators have on school and student success, it is critical that current and aspiring principals receive high-quality training and support. Superior principal preparation programs and ongoing training opportunities are fundamental to fulfilling the need and improving student outcomes nationwide. A phenomenological case study approach was used to explore the factors contributing to the success of public school principals and examine from the practitioners’ perspective how they learned their craft. Adult learning theory is situated within the context of social constructivism, and used to critically examine the learning of three elementary school principal’s. Multiple interviews and observations were conducted for each participant, and the transcriptions of those events comprise the database. Qualitative data analysis procedures revealed that successful principal craft is dependent upon their knowledge of teaching and learning, understanding of emotional intelligence and the principal’s ability to communicate effectively. Data also revealed that having a passion for student success, a determined spirit, and an approachable personality were also major contributors to principal success. The data also highlighted the value of socially constructed adult learning through job-embedded workplace training and peer interactions. Findings from the study contribute to the knowledge base surrounding principal preparation, continuing education and successful principal craft within context. The study also contributes to our understanding of adult learning and further solidifies the positive and substantial impact of workplace learning on principal practice.


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