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Catholic High School Principals Situated in Alberta Micro-Markets Open Access


Other title
school choice
high school principals
school competition
philosophical hermeneutics
catholic educational leadership
school markets
enrolment management
school marketing
Type of item
Degree grantor
University of Alberta
Author or creator
Davies, Troy A.
Supervisor and department
Spencer, Brenda (Educational Policy Studies)
Examining committee member and department
Da Costa, Jose (Educational Policy Studies)
Newton, Paul (Educational Policy Studies)
Spencer, Brenda (Educational Policy Studies)
Ellis, Julia (Elementary Education)
Peters, Frank (Educational Policy Studies)
McDonough, Graham (External - UVic: Curriculum & Instruction)
Department of Educational Policy Studies
Educational Administration and Leadership
Date accepted
Graduation date
Doctor of Philosophy
Degree level
Some small communities in Alberta have a publicly-funded Catholic high school. The existence of more than one high school in a community and the ability to choose one’s school leads to the development of an educational market in which local high schools compete for students. The presence of this educational market has implications for how Catholic high school principals in these small communities do their job and understand the principalship. This interpretive inquiry used methodologies and conceptual tools influenced by philosophical hermeneutics to explore how Catholic high school principals in small Alberta communities understand and make sense of their role as enrolment managers within the marketized conditions in which they are situated. Semi-structured individual interviews were completed with five principals from different communities across the province. Findings derived from the conversations with participants led the researcher to developing three themes. First, principals perceived themselves as the guardians of the Catholic identity of the school and sought to ensure that in their local market the option they provided to students was an authentically Catholic one. Second, principals understood their role as being the lead salesperson for the school as they attempted to manage their enrolments and market-share. Third, principals felt they had a responsibility to create a wealth of opportunities for students that would be comparable to, or exceed, what was being offered at other schools in the market. The study concludes with a discussion of the implications the research may have for theory and practice as well as a discussion on how the understanding of the researcher changed as a result of completing the study.
Permission is hereby granted to the University of Alberta Libraries to reproduce single copies of this thesis and to lend or sell such copies for private, scholarly or scientific research purposes only. Where the thesis is converted to, or otherwise made available in digital form, the University of Alberta will advise potential users of the thesis of these terms. The author reserves all other publication and other rights in association with the copyright in the thesis and, except as herein before provided, neither the thesis nor any substantial portion thereof may be printed or otherwise reproduced in any material form whatsoever without the author's prior written permission.
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