Date of Award

Spring 3-31-2020

Document Type


Degree Name

PHD - Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Stephen Gould

Second Advisor

Lorraine Greenfield

Third Advisor

Caryn McCrohon



While it is widely accepted among education scholars that constructivist instructional approaches improve student learning, there is little evidence to suggest that school leaders and teachers are actively supporting or regularly incorporating such approaches in their practice. The purpose of this qualitative study was to examine the perceptions of elementary school principals regarding their role in promoting constructivist approaches to teaching and learning. A phenomenological approach was selected in order to develop a complete and accurate understanding of the participants’ feelings and experiences around supporting and implementing constructivist approaches in their schools. Specifically, the study explored the extent to which elementary school principals considered constructivism critical in improving teaching and learning, how they assisted teachers in implementing constructivist practices, and what factors and conditions promoted or inhibited their efforts. Sixteen elementary school principals in Massachusetts answered surveys and 12 out the 16 participated in interviews. The study revealed that principals believed constructivism has a profound influence on the critical thinking and problem-solving skills of students and that principals developed teachers’ capacity to implement constructivist approaches. The study also found that barriers existed in implementing constructivist practices at the district level and that creative scheduling allowed adequate planning time and increased opportunities for constructivist approaches. These findings suggest that, despite impediments that prevent its full implementation, constructivist teaching and learning is important to elementary school principals.

Keywords: constructivism, constructivist approaches, principals, teaching, student learning, perceptions, promote/promoting

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Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.



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