Date of Award

Summer 8-25-2019

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

PHD - Doctor of Philosophy

Department

Education

First Advisor

John H. Ciesluk

Second Advisor

Nancy Roberts

Third Advisor

Susan Etheredge

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to explore the principal’s role in expanding multicultural understandings in predominantly White, rural, middle school grades. A review of the literature provided information on three areas: (a) benefits of expanding multicultural understandings, (b) implementing multicultural understandings, and (c) school leaders’ role. The literature did not include information to address a prevalent problem in Massachusetts: Principals of rural, predominantly White schools with middle grades typically do not consider expanding multicultural understandings a priority. This explanatory sequential mixed methods study used a closed-response survey and in-depth interviews with principals across Massachusetts. The survey was sent to 167 principals, 17 of whom completed it. Ten of those survey-respondents agreed to participate in an in-depth follow-up interview. Both instruments addressed three guiding research questions: (a) To what degree do principals consider it a priority to expand multicultural understandings in predominantly White, rural, middle school grades? (b) What do principals report they are doing to expand multicultural understandings in predominantly White, rural, middle school grades? (c) What do principals report are factors and conditions that inhibit and support their efforts to expand multicultural understandings in predominantly White, rural, middle school grades? There were six key findings. Guiding Research Question One led to two findings: (a) a school-wide theme of “acceptance-for-all” may not be effective, and (b) it is effective for principals to have direct control over their personal multicultural understandings. Guiding Research Question Two uncovered two findings: (a) principal goals that match school goals promote multiculturalism and (b) principals expressed a desire to more effectively help guide and support teachers in expanding multicultural understandings. Finally, the third guiding research question produced two findings: (a) specific aspects of school culture influence the expansion of multicultural understandings, and (b) flexible subject-areas support principals fostering multicultural work. These findings led to theoretical and practical implications and recommendations that have the potential to benefit the practice and experiences of administrators, teachers, educational licensure programs, school stakeholders, and middle grade students. Future research could gain more background information on the schools where the principals work, use a larger sample size, collect data from strictly stand-alone middle schools, solicit teacher/student perspectives, or employ a different research method.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Language

English

Number of Pages

197

Available for download on Tuesday, October 31, 2023

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