Date of Award

Spring 2023

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Degree Name

Education, Ed.D.



First Advisor

Dr. Nicole Ralston

Second Advisor

Dr. Jacqueline Waggoner

Third Advisor

Dr. Bruce Weitzel

LC Subjects

Educational leadership; Transformational leadership


Principals must be transformational leaders. However, research has indicated that they face challenges with leading and managing change in their schools (Caposey, 2016; Marzano et al., 2005; Reyna, 2017; Salazar, 2007; Shoho & Barnett, 2010; Sincar, 2013; Spillane & Lee, 2013; Stevenson, 2008). Many researchers have emphasized the importance of understanding the change process for continuous school improvement (Alberta Teachers’ Association, 2014; Bennett, as cited in Hall & Hord, 2020; Burke, 1990; Darling-Hammond et al., 2007); Fullan, 2002, 2015; Fullan et al., 2005; Pont et al., 2008; Roy, 2005).

Research on effective leadership-preparation programs and professional development for school principals (Darling-Hammond, 2007; Huber, 2011; Orr & Orphanos, 2011) has left a gap in the inquiry regarding school principals’ knowledge of the change process; the concerns, barriers, and challenges or successes that they face in leading and managing change; and how this knowledge guides their leadership-preparation programs and professional development. Thus, support for school leaders might not offer the necessary learning to help principals lead and manage change effectively in their schools. Therefore, the aim of this study was to gain insight into and an understanding of principals’ knowledge, experience, and training in the change process and in leading and managing change.

The researcher used a descriptive research design for this study. A purposeful, criterion-based sampling of Alberta school principals yielded 77 participants who practiced in public and separate school authorities.

The researcher used quantitative and qualitative questioning. The qualitative component included a validated instrument consisting of 25 true-false questions from Burke et al.’s (2022) Leading and Managing Change Questionnaire. Seventeen openended questions on knowledge, experience, and training comprised the qualitative component.

The data-analysis process uncovered nine findings that have implications for professional development. The principals’ responses to the questions on their knowledge, experience, and training in the change process and in leading and managing change revealed six areas of review for professional development. Aspiring and practicing school leaders require intentionality in the contributors, design, delivery, interactions, content, and audience of their professional development.

Notably, educational institutions authorized in Alberta to deliver leadership standard certification, school authorities that deliver preparation programs for aspiring leaders and ongoing professional development for school leaders, and professional-development companies and organizations that also offer various professional development must be aware of school leaders’ need for knowledge of the change process in their role as principal. This knowledge can have implications for the success of school leaders when they implement change in their schools.


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