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Degree Name

EdD (Doctor of Education)


Educational Leadership

Date of Award


Committee Chair or Co-Chairs

James Lampley

Committee Members

Cecil Blankenship, Bill Flora, Virginia Foley


Principals with effective leadership practices may positively impact the success in schools. Although the topic of leadership has been researched extensively, more research may be beneficial in determining how leadership practices may develop or change over the course of the career of a school principal. This study was designed to determine if the leadership practices of principals have changed over time and what factors may have influenced this change within their leadership practices. A qualitative research method with a grounded theory design was used in this study. After obtaining permission from several school districts in East Tennessee, the 11 participants were recruited through emails and phone calls. Interviews were semistructured with questions crafted to encourage discussion on the topic. After each participant was interviewed, the transcripts were coded to determine themes. After analysis of the coding, common themes emerged. Most participants reported that on-the-job experiences, previous roles in leadership, and a network of colleagues were the factors that influenced changes in their leadership practices. These findings supported research that found leadership practices evolved over time. Research also supported the common theme that experience is more of an influencer on leadership practices than content classes from principal preparation programs. The study may be useful for universities that offer principal preparation programs in planning more authentic experiences. Further research may be needed to determine the amount of time needed in authentic experiences to best prepare future principals.

Document Type

Dissertation - restricted


Copyright by the authors.