Brown, Crystal Lea (2013). What works? Principals’ perceptions of professional development. Doctoral dissertation (Educational Leadership), North Carolina State University.

Abstract: Principals play a pivotal role in the professional growth of teachers. In turn, teachers have a tremendous impact on student learning. This study seeks to understand the perceptions principals have of effective elements of professional development and their role in facilitating the professional development of teachers in order to impact student learning. Q-methodology was utilized to investigate the subjective opinions of public school administrators. Literature on professional development was reviewed and statements pertaining to effective elements of professional development were used to create a set of statements. Statements were printed on cards. Then, thirty-four public school principals and assistant principals sorted, in a forced distribution, the cards according to their beliefs about professional development. A post-sort survey was used to glean demographic and perceptual data. The Q-sorts were factor analyzed to reveal statistical correlations among the administrators. Focus group interviews for each factor were conducted in order to gain more insight about the administrators’ perceptions of professional development. Data analysis indicated three statistically significant factors: Sustained Over Time, Collaboration and Follow-Up, and Collaborate. Along with these factors, data emerged explaining how principals view their role in facilitating professional development for teachers. The findings of this study generate insights into professional development for teachers and provide policy makers, researchers, and practitioners information about this important topic.

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