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Sources of principals' understanding of school restructuring

Rose Ellis, Johnson & Wales University


This study identified sources of principals' understanding of school restructuring by investigating (a) how principals define restructuring, (b) learning experiences they prefer to use to develop their definition, and (c) the relationship among their definition of restructuring, the learning experiences they prefer to use to learn about restructuring, and demographic factors of school level, years of experience, and school location. Comments regarding preferences were also solicited. A systematic, random sample of 360 principals was selected from the population of principals listed in the Massachusetts Department of Education School Directory 1997–1998. This Directory listed 1,868 schools and principals in Massachusetts. Two hundred and two surveys provided a 56% return rate. The survey instrument, “The Principal and Restructuring,” was based on a typology of the restructuring research and on the professional development literature for principals. It was developed to answer five research questions. The national restructuring studies of Newmann and Wehlage (1995) informed this study. This quantitative study used descriptive statistics to analyze the two dependent variables of principals' definitions of restructuring and their preferences for learning about restructuring. The causal-comparative research method investigated the relationships between demographic variables and dependent variables. Analysis of variance (ANOVA) with a factorial design determined that there was no statistical difference between the dependent variables and the demographic factors. Findings indicated that principals' definitions of restructuring mirrored the research. Initiatives that addressed shared leadership, improved student learning, and quality teaching received higher means. Initiatives that included participatory school councils and community involvement had lower means. Learning experiences principals prefer to use to enhance their understanding of restructuring were determined to be informal, focused at the school site, and from familiar sources such as staff and colleagues. The solitary activity of reading professional journals and research articles had the highest mean for preferences and formal experiences such as mentoring, summer institutes, graduate courses, and advanced degree programs were ranked among the lowest means. The results of this study suggest that the principal's focus is building-based, informal, and private, whether sharing leadership or pursuing professional development.

Subject Area

Educational administration

Recommended Citation

Ellis, Rose, "Sources of principals' understanding of school restructuring" (1999). Dissertation & Theses Collection. AAI9999551.