Department of Educational Administration


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A DISSERTATION Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Doctor of Education, Major: Educational Administration, Under the Supervision of Professors Larry Dlugosh and Jody Isernhagen. Lincoln, Nebraska: October, 2012

Copyright (c) 2012 Bradley D. Sullivan


The purpose of this case study was to develop an understanding of the elementary principal’s perceived role in creating and sustaining a collaborative workplace environment within their school. Collaboration among education professionals, when used effectively, is one strategy that has demonstrated improvement of instruction and student learning. As such, in this context the role of the principal becomes more complex and challenging. This study examined the perception of the elementary principal’s role regarding the establishment and perpetuation of a collaborative workplace environment for teachers that is focused on improving student learning within their buildings.

In-depth interviews were conducted with 12 elementary principals working in a suburban public school district in Nebraska. This study revealed several perceived roles when it came to creating and sustaining a collaborative workplace for teachers: creating and sharing of a vision, modeling and using collaboration to make decisions at an administrative level, facilitating vertical team collaboration, creating an environment with a high level of trust, serving as a guide and coach for teachers in the collaborative process, addressing negative and challenging personalities that interfere with the collaborative process, considering the impact of generational differences among teachers, encouraging open communication amongst staff, systematizing a building specific process for data collection and collaboration meetings, establishing building-wide data teams, evaluating if changes are needed to increase collaboration, hiring only people willing to collaborate, and creating a culture where collaboration is the expectation.

Advisors: Larry L. Dlugosh and Jody C. Isernhagen