Publication Date


Type of Culminating Activity


Degree Title

Doctor of Education in Curriculum and Instruction


Curriculum, Instruction, and Foundational Studies

Major Advisor

Kathleen Budge


The role of the school principal has radically changed over the past half century. Many colleges of education are trying to develop alternative approaches to not only meet the needs of the adult learners who enroll in educational leadership preparation programs, but also to equip future school leaders with strategies for meeting the expectations set forth by the implementation and accountability of the No Child Left Behind legislation.

The purpose of this study is to investigate whether a difference, if any, exists between individuals who graduated from the Boise State University (BSU) nontraditional educational leadership preparation program and a sample from across the nation. This mixed-method comparative case study will examine the following two research questions: (1) How effective are graduates of a non-traditional educational leadership preparation program (BSU) currently working as school principals/vice-principals compared to a national sample? And, (2) how, if at all, do these graduates/practicing principals perceive this non-traditional preparation program (BSU) to have contributed to their effectiveness?

Quantitative data results from the Vanderbilt Assessment of Leadership in Education (VAL-EDTM) survey were used to provide a summary of the school principals’, teachers’, and immediate supervisors’ perceptions of the principals’ leadership effectiveness (and leadership behaviors) and were used to provide a comparison to a national sample.

Qualitative data was also collected from semi-structured interviews with the BSU school principals to determine strengths and weaknesses of BSU’s educational leadership preparation program with a particular focus on which aspects of the program they felt made them effective.

Results from the VAL-EDTM survey showed significant differences between BSU’s graduates’ overall effectiveness scores compared to a sample within the United States. Emerging themes from graduates’ interviews regarding the BSU Masters of Education in Educational Leadership (MEd Leadership Preparation) program included thinking differently, being people oriented, and connecting theory to practice. These three themes were developed by BSU MEd Leadership Preparation faculty working on problem-based learning scenarios, developing a trusting cohort structure, and utilizing practicing school administrators in various class discussions. Areas of improvement for the program consist of developing a network for post-graduates to draw upon and a stronger focus on school law.