Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Educational Leadership, Research and Technology

First Advisor

Dr. Joseph Kretovics

Second Advisor

Dr. Patricia Reeves

Third Advisor

Dr. William Armaline


principal leadership, participatory action research, leadership coaching, high school leadership, principal


Unlike the principalship of yesteryear, today’s principals are under great pressure to improve academic achievement for all students. Recent literature describes the need for principals to become instructional leaders whereby they can lead change and improve student achievement. However, a lack of quality principal preparation programs and a shortage of effective principals exist. Thus, principals are often unprepared or underprepared for their role. The purpose of this participatory action research study (PAR) was to follow the process of how one high school principal made sense of and integrated research-based leadership behaviors into his practice to lead the redesign of his school to improve student achievement while using a leadership coach. The Balanced Leadership Framework (Waters, Marzano, & McNulty, 2003) was utilized to study research-based leadership behaviors. In this case, I as a researcher served as the leadership coach as well. The PAR methodology allowed the high school principal and me to co-construct, analyze and interpret the process that he went through to effect change in his daily practice. As a result of our nine month study, there were several important findings that resulted in cognitive and behavior growth and changes for both the principal and me. We found that there were several practices that were essential to changing thinking and behavior: (1) a strong and trusting coaching relationship, (2) unrelenting reflection, and (3) honest and probing professional dialogue. We were successful in making sense of the framework leadership behaviors in the context of the principal’s school and were also successful in translating several of the behaviors into daily practice.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access