Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Public Affairs and Administration

First Advisor

Dr. Peter Kobrak

Second Advisor

Dr. Cynthia Mader

Third Advisor

Dr. W endy Wintermute


The main purpose of this study was to identify the set of key skills and dispositions needed by secondary school assistant principals to function as effective disciplinarians. A secondary purpose of this study was to explore the perceptions of males and females concerning this topic. This was accomplished by exploring the perceptions of experts and practitioners, both male and female, concerning their ideas on the skills and dispositions needed by assistant principals at the secondary level to be successful disciplinarians.

This study used two methods of data collection, the Delphi Method of collecting information and focus groups. A panel of experts thus rank-ordered the setof key skills and dispositions deemed essential to assistant principals during the discipline process. This ranked list of skills and dispositions was then used as an introductory activity in two focus groups of current assistant principals, one male and one female.

Based on the results of this study, the skills and dispositions identified to be most needed by assistant principals to be successful disciplinarians are skills to be fair while establishing a positive school climate. Also identified as most needed are the dispositions to be honest, trustworthy, straightforward and ethical. Being an effective communicator is also identified as an essential skill.

A frustration expressed by practitioners was the unique issues surrounding the discipline requirements of students with special needs. For example, a needfor assistant principals to possess greater knowledge of classroom management and also of specific groups of students, such as students with special needs, was identified. An additional frustration was expressed concerning the lack of knowledge and ability teachers possess in maintaining classroom control and managing discipline issues.

Overall, both male and female practitioners and experts in the field of education agreed upon the skills and dispositions needed for assistant principals to be successful disciplinarians. However, assistant principals felt that the full variety of skills they bring to the position is not appreciated. Rather than be considered only as disciplinarians, practitioners felt that they should be viewed as educational leaders with discipline seen as only a part of their responsibilities.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access