Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Roth, Gene L.

Degree Name

Ed.D. (Doctor of Education)

Legacy Department

Department of Counseling, Adult and Higher Education


School principals--Training of; School principals--In-service training


The study of principals as learners is important because the landscape of public education is changing. Schools are becoming more diverse and the demands on schools more varied and complex. The role of the principal is increasingly ambiguous, complex, and varied. Principals must adapt and develop their professional practice. Effective principals learn from experience to meet the shifting expectations of the role and the needs of the school. Multiple learning experiences help principals become more proficient in their jobs. Initial certification, induction into the role, continuing professional education, and learning from experiences are means to the development of expertise. This study provided a rich description of how principals learn from on-the-job experiences through reflective practices and how reflection can develop expertise. This study was concerned with school principals as learners and how principals can learn from experiences. Principals develop expertise through reflecting on their practice. The study examined how principals learn from experience, how principals monitor their understanding and practice, how principals integrate new understandings into practice, and how principals reframe their understandings based on experience. The conceptual framework for this study included the literature on the development of expertise, reflective practice, and cognition. Literature on principal preparation, induction, and continuing education are included. Reflective practice as a means to learn from experience and develop professional expertise are addressed in depth. The research methods for this study are grounded in phenomenology. Phenomenological research methods focus on the meaning of lived experience of principals. The results provide a rich description of how school principals learn from experiences situated in practice through reflection. The essences of the experiences of how principals learn from experiences in practice are the ability to learn from experiences through reflective meaning construction, the principal's ability to regulate learning and practice, and the ability to exercise professional judgment in practice. The participants described the ability to reflect on practice and regulate learning and performance. The phenomena as experienced by the principals in this study form a model of professional expertise in the principalship.


Includes bibliographical references (pages [236]-244).


x, 263 pages




Northern Illinois University

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