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A Case of Leadership Development Open Access


Other title
school improvement
leadership development
Alberta Initiative for School Improvement
Type of item
Degree grantor
University of Alberta
Author or creator
Mayer, Donna F
Supervisor and department
Foster, Rosemary (Educational Policy Studies)
Examining committee member and department
Newton, Paul (Educational Policy Studies)
Thomas, Gregory (Secondary Education)
Bosetti, Lynn (University of British Columbia, Faculty of Education)
Da Costa, Jose (Educational Policy Studies)
Peters, Frank (Educational Policy Studies)
Department of Educational Policy Studies
Educational Administration and Leadership
Date accepted
Graduation date
Doctor of Philosophy
Degree level
Abstract The purpose of my doctoral research was to address the question, “How have school improvement strategies been instrumental in school and school system leadership development?” Several authors have indicated that the strength of school leadership is second only to classroom teaching as an influence on student learning and achievement (Leithwood, Louis, Anderson, &Wahlstrom, 2004; Levin, 2008; Pont, Nusche, & Moorman, 2009). However, also reported in the literature is the notion that education is faced with a situation where it may be increasingly difficult to find enough talented and qualified people to fill leadership vacancies (Alberta Education, 2010; Levin, 2008; OECD, 2008). My intention in conducting this research was to make an original contribution to the understanding of leadership development and hence the literature, through an investigation of the province-wide, government-funded Alberta Initiative for School Improvent(AISI) which had been in place since 1999 and received national and international attention as evidenced in the writing of scholars (Hargreaves, Crocker, Davis, Sahlberg, Sumara, & Shirley, 2009; Levin, 2010; Whelan, 2009). Within the case-study methodology, and using purposeful sampling, 19 participants from across Alberta were interviewed over three months so as to explore multiple experiences and perspectives. These participants experienced leadership in a variety of ways that had not been available to them prior to the inception of AISI. Interview data were supported by document review for historical information as well as my researcher’s journal that provided both chronological documentation and my personal reflections throughout the research. Data analysis and interpretations of how AISI leaders believed various actions, events and experiences prepared them to fulfill formal leadership roles resulted in the construction of three major themes: Developing Skills, Expanding Understanding of the Work Context, and Transitioning to Action. Based on research findings, this study concludes with implications and recommendations for theory along with policy and practice directed at institutions that develop teachers, at school systems and at schools, as well as possibilities for further research relative to school and school system leadership development.
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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