Date of Conferral







Christina Dawson


Practices for supporting school change have not been implemented consistently in K-12 schools in the United States. Researchers have not studied the needs of K-12 principals who fail to implement these practices, and barriers or supports to implementation have not been identified. The purpose of this sequential explanatory mixed methodology study was to understand K-12 principals' perceptions of the supports and barriers related to their abilities to implement the practices of challenging the process, inspiring a shared vision, enabling others to act, modeling the way, and encouraging the heart. Seven public school principals and 29 teachers in their schools completed Kouzes and Posner's Leadership Practices Inventory and indicated that the principals implemented all of the practices to some degree. Reflective journals and individual interviews helped discern the principals' perceptions of the supports and barriers to implementation of the practices. Analysis using a combination of a priori and open coding showed that internal variables, such as relationships, and external variables, such as central office support, influenced the implementation of leadership practices. The ability to foster relationships was a top support to inspiring a shared vision while a lack of central office support was a barrier. Relationships and culture were the top two supports for challenging the process, and lack of central office support was a top barrier. Implications for positive social change include improving preparation programs for school leaders, enhancing professional development programs for working principals, and informing school reform. School culture, educational beliefs, and practices can be changed if supported by solid leadership, and ways to increase the capacity of principals were identified in this study.