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Making Meaning of Trust in the Organizational Setting of a School Open Access


Other title
Type of item
Degree grantor
University of Alberta
Author or creator
deGoeij, Konsctancija
Supervisor and department
Foster, Rosemary (Education Policy Studies)
Examining committee member and department
Adams, Catherine (Secondary Education)
Peters, Frank (Education Policy Studies)
Sherman, Ann (External from the University of New Brunswick)
Wimmer, Randolph (Education Policy Studies)
Newton, Paul (Education Policy Studies)
Department of Educational Policy Studies
Educational Administration and Leadership
Date accepted
Graduation date
Doctor of Philosophy
Degree level
Recognizing that teachers are both leaders in their classrooms and colleagues in the school setting, this study focuses on the interplay of trust in the interpersonal professional relationships of teachers with their principals from the perspective of teachers. The rationale for the examination of trust is based on the assumption that trust is a key element in all human relationships and is often taken for granted because it is usually not thought about until trust fails to exist. The literature review revealed what is already known about trust, helped identify issues that merited exploration including the importance of trust, provided a solid theoretical foundation that informed the study’s methodology, and enabled me to rationalize my phenomenological approach research design. In order to come to a deeper understanding of a teacher’s experience of trust and what happens when the everyday flow of lived experience takes on a particular significance it was necessary for me to access teachers’ subjective realities. Using an Interpretive Phenomenological Analysis approach (IPA) based on the work of Smith, Flowers, and Larkin (2009), interviews were conducted using stratified purposeful sampling with 16 Alberta teachers, with varying experience levels and diverse career backgrounds. The data was organized as clusters or patterns that emerged through my interpretation of the participants’ experiences. By interrogating the meaning of the various clusters, subordinate themes were determined which expressed the essence of these clusters which then were compared and contrasted and encapsulated in superordinate themes. In previous research, trust has traditionally been considered as a monolithic variable characterized by experiences through relationships within a school (Bryk & Schneider, 2002, 2003; Kochanek, 2005). However, this study reveals that trust is best understood in a combination of two ways. First, trust is a process of holding certain perceptions and anticipation of the reliability of the other party, and secondly, trust is a product of accumulated opportunities for interaction between teachers and the principal. The findings of this study supported the viewpoint that trust in the principal was influenced by specific behaviours of the principal.
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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