Date of Conferral



Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)




Mary Hallums


A lack of knowledge about the usefulness of a field experience component within the associate principal preparation program for assistant principals drove this study. The purpose of this qualitative study was to describe the beliefs of system leaders and past participants regarding the usefulness of the field experience component and to examine archival end-of-course survey data from past participants. Constructivism and adult learning theory constituted the conceptual framework. Twelve leaders who were participants or administrators of the program within a large mid-Atlantic school district in the United States were participants. Qualitative data sources included interviews and archival data from the associate principal preparation program. A combination of descriptive and in vivo coding was used to support interpretive analysis. Results indicated the most useful components of the principal preparation program were the experiential nature of the program, opportunity for reflective thinking for participants, benefits of mentoring throughout the field experience, and empowerment felt by participants as they practiced skills learned during the field experience in their first year as principals. Recommendations based on these findings included a lengthened field experience and greater focus on the criteria used to match aspiring principals with mentor principals. Participants also noted fiscal and human capital resources were needed. A related recommendation could be to extend the field experience over 2 years to provide opportunities for associate principals to participate in experiences in the beginning and end of the school year in addition to the middle of the school year experiences provided. This research could provide support for districts interested in assessing the usefulness of their principal preparation programs.