Date of Award

2018-05-20

Degree Name

PhD Leadership Studies

Dissertation Committee

Lea Hubbard, PhD, Chairperson; Paula A. Cordeiro, EdD, Member; Heather Lattimer, EdD, Member

Keywords

feedback, principal, teacher, structure, culture, agency

Abstract

Federal and state mandates have placed an added pressure on teachers to demonstrate “effective” instructional practices. These mandates also affect the role of a principal, as an evaluator of “effective” instructional strategies, and as an instructional leader who continuously needs to build teacher capacity to satisfy these mandates. Accountability mandates promise to improve students’ academic performance but they have lacked professional development that would provide the support teachers and principals need to achieve success. Feedback is arguably a valuable mechanism to build teacher capacity and respond to accountability pressures, however, the implementation of feedback and its consequences for teacher’s professional growth is not well understood.

In general, research on efforts to improve educational outcomes show that structural, cultural and agentive factors, in interaction, influence educational outcomes. Using this theoretical frame, this study examines the factors that support or challenge the feedback that occurs between principals and teachers in an educational context.

To understand feedback processes, a qualitative comparative case study was conducted at two school sites in a southern Californian district. To gather multiple perspectives on the implementation of feedback at each school, two principals and eight teachers were interviewed. The findings of this study suggest that principals’ beliefs regarding feedback, prioritization and strategies used by the principal increase teachers’ willingness to use feedback to improve their teaching. Teachers see the perceived benefits when: they have trust in their principal, feedback is tied to a planned goal, there is a clear understanding of the feedback process, and teachers have a growth mindset. Additionally, the findings suggest that context has an influence on feedback.

Furthermore, the findings demonstrate that when teachers and principals do not define feedback as professional development, there are implications for practice, although more research is warranted in this area.

This study deepens our understanding of what makes and does not make the implementation of feedback at a school site successful and exposes the factors that influence teachers’ willingness to receive feedback from their principals. It offers significant implications for principals and policy makers who seek to enact strategies that can build teacher capacity.

Document Type

Dissertation: Open Access

Department

Leadership Studies

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