Degree Name

EdD (Doctor of Education)


Educational Leadership

Date of Award

May 1998


The goal of this study was to develop insights into the experiences and opinions held common by individuals holding principalship endorsement in Tennessee, yet not working as a principal. The purpose of the study was to isolate phenomena common to these individuals at any point before, during, or after completing a program of principalship preparation, and further, to develop theory that would serve to describe these phenomena. The qualitative research method was used. An interview guide was developed using a review of related literature and further augmented by comments made during the interview process. Fourteen subjects were interviewed, representing all three grand divisions of the state. Transcripts of these interviews were produced and analyzed. Conclusions of the study converged on three general areas. In the time frame preceding initial enrollment in a principal preparation program, subjects noted the importance of one or more individuals who enrolled along with them. Many subjects also reflected on formal or informal support groups that evolved during the time they were in graduate school. Other factors affecting the subject's decision to enroll in a program include financial considerations and the physical proximity of the program to their own locale. Subjects participating in this study professed little desire to become a school administrator at the time of enrollment and even less desire at the time of the study. Theory developed about preparation programs themselves hold that students are largely self-selected, they are universally dissatisfied with the scope and quantity of practical experiences offered, and that they are more likely to remember and identify with individual instructors than with a program or graduate department in general. Curiously, the subjects in this study largely agreed on the need for long term, meaningful internship experiences during a principal preparation program, yet felt that if it had been a requirement in the program they completed, they could not have participated. In developing theory to describe the experiences of individuals after completion of a principal preparation program, it was found that little effort was exerted toward obtaining a school principalship. Generally, the subjects in this study viewed promotion to a principalship in terms of promotion within the school at which they taught.

Document Type

Dissertation - Open Access