Date of Award


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Degree Name

Education, Ed.D.



First Advisor

Randy Wayne Heatherington

LC Subjects

School principals--Case studies--Canada; School principals--Training of; Adult learning--Research


Good principals are the foundation of good schools and are important to student achievement. The principalship is becoming more complex due to increased student diversity, changing family dynamics, an increased reliance on technology, economic conditions, accountability measures, and changing cultural factors. At the same time there is an increased demand for principals due to retirement rates and a decreased number of applicants for the role. The purpose of this instrumental case study utilizing a mixed methods approach, was to investigate the impact of a school division’s principal preparation programming on the reported self-efficacy of participants preparing for their first principalship in a large urban division. A survey was distributed electronically to potential participants, all of whom had completed a division’s Aspiring Principal Development Program (APDP) over a three-year period. Of 85 potential participants, a return rate of 79% provided a final N value of 67 participants Twelve survey participants were chosen to participate in two focus group interviews. The findings of the study were summarized in three themes related to the development of self-efficacy by aspiring principals: (1) leadership identity, (2) process and content: critical components, and (3) context.

These themes contain elements related to Bandura’s (1986) four sources of self-efficacy development and the tenants of Knowles’ (1972) Adult Learning Theory. This study informs the design of principal preparation programming to ensure that participants develop not only the skills and knowledge needed to be successful in the principalship, but the self-efficacy to put the skills and knowledge into practice.


Copyright for this work is retained by the author.