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Decision Making and the Superintendency

  • Author / Creator
    Hetherington, Randy W
  • Abstract Public education in Alberta is undergoing substantive change and there is renewed interest in how school superintendents make decisions. My inquiry came from a practitioner’s perspective looking into superintendent’s decision-making processes. Eight serving school superintendents were interviewed to determine the influences on their decision-making around governance, human resource and accountability issues. I sought insights to inform superintendent practice in the province and uncover further questions for study. The research question used to identify the expectations, influences and understandings of public school superintendents regarding decision-making within their respective school jurisdictions was: What factors impact decisions related to jurisdiction governance, human resource management and accountability in the superintendency? A multiple case-study model was utilized to review responses from the purposive sample. The sample was balanced for gender and geographic and demographic diversity. Transcripts, government documents and research journals were utilized in the analysis as understandings were revealed and explanations built in response to the research question. The effect of time, role identification, relationship building, capacity building, and community expectations were identified as common factors affecting the decisions of school superintendents. Roles and responsibilities within school jurisdictions and whether an authoritative or participative approach to decision-making was utilized varied across genders and jurisdiction size and location. Perceived self-efficacy of superintendents in their role and perceived organizational efficacy of school jurisdictions in the public education system emerged as influences on the process. Superintendents indicated a clear preference for processes rendering decisions from understanding rather than decisions designed to compel understanding. Responses from superintendents in this study indicated they valued a collaborative approach to decision-making and a desire to transform decision-making from a process focused on individual roles and responsibilities to one supporting broader stakeholder values. Participants sought decisions that ultimately met the academic, social and emotional needs of the students. Changes to the landscape of public education in Alberta created by a new Education Act (2012) and the evolving expectations of society will require superintendents to make critical decisions in the months to come. The findings of this study support them in that work.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    2014-06
  • Type of Item
    Thesis
  • Degree
    Doctor of Education
  • DOI
    https://doi.org/10.7939/R38W3876S
  • License
    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.
  • Language
    English
  • Institution
    University of Alberta
  • Degree level
    Doctoral
  • Department
    • Department of Educational Policy Studies
  • Specialization
    • Educational Administration and Leadership
  • Supervisor / co-supervisor and their department(s)
    • Dr. Rosemary Foster (Educational Policy Studies)
  • Examining committee members and their departments
    • Dr. Jim Brandon (External - University of Calgary)
    • Dr. Olenka Bilash (Secondary Education)
    • Dr. Paul Newton (Educational Policy Studies)
    • Dr. Frank Peters (Educational Policy Studies)
    • Dr. Heather Kanuka (Educational Policy Studies)