AuthorSt. Germain, Lorraine
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractThis study investigated how the tacit knowledge of novice and expert principals was demonstrated in problem-solving situations. Participant profiles were developed and contrasted using the transformational leadership dimensions identified by Leithwood (Leithwood and Steinbach, 1993, 1995). A phenomenological approach was selected as the primary theoretical perspective. The qualitative methodology employed the protocol developed by Nestor-Baker (2002), along with a comparative method of interpreting the data (Patton, 2002). Three expert and three novice principals were each interviewed twice to determine how they used their tacit knowledge within self-identified, problem-solving incidents. Results were analyzed by horizonalizing the data and identifying those portions of the interview that formed the essence, or the invariant constituents of the experience (Moustakas, 1994, p. 121). The invariant constituents were clustered into leadership dimensions and individual textural-structural descriptions were generated for the participants. Experts possessed a greater accumulation of tacit knowledge than did novices. Experts tended to maintain a calmer approach, to see long-term ramifications immediately, and to have a better sense of timing for problem-solving. Experts demonstrated greater if-then thinking, had a better understanding of interpersonal relationships, employed Model II (Arygris and Schon, 1974) thinking, and used context more effectively than did novices. Experts used tacit knowledge more inclusively in contexts that required an understanding of the effects of social class than did novices. Novices used Model I thinking, tended to become emotionally affected by problems, delayed problem-solving, and experienced a disconnect between intellectually reflecting upon problems and reaching appropriate, timely, solutions. The identification of leadership dimensions by participants was found to be inconsistent. Expert secondary principals tended to think and act upon identifying and articulating a vision and fostering group goals. The secondary novice principal focused most upon providing individual support. The elementary school expert principal emphasized identifying and articulating a vision and providing individual support. The elementary novice principals focused most upon fostering the acceptance of group goals. The researcher concluded that experience alone does not signify expertise. The accumulation of tacit knowledge, along with experience, results in expert school principal leadership.
Degree ProgramGraduate College