Educational Administration, Department of


Date of this Version

Spring 3-2014


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 Professor Jody Isernhagen. Lincoln, Nebraska: March, 2014

Copyright (c) 2014 Jeff Daniel Arrington


Common Core standards and 21st century instruction are topics at the forefront of current educational literature (Greenstein, 2012; Long, 2012; Sheninger & Larkin, 2012; Wilson, 2006). Though Common Core standards may provide a foundation for the literacy and numeracy that has been identified in preparation for college and career, even Common Core agrees that this preparation and readiness is complex and more than the standards address. “The reality is that students must develop a complex skill set that prepares them for both the rigor of college and the demands of the workplace” (Greenstein, 2012). Twenty-first century skills have been described as those needed skills.

District instructional leaders must know about and be able to lead teachers in developing 21st century classrooms and practices. There is a set of knowledge that district instructional leaders must know in order to guide teachers in creating a classroom founded in 21st century technology and job skills (Amy Garrett, Hughes, & McLeod, 2005; Maurer & Davidson, 1998; McLeod & Lehmann, 2012). By specifically identifying what district instructional leaders know about leading teachers in creating 21st century classrooms within their schools, the knowledge and skills they need in order to be a district instructional leader in 21st century education, but don’t have, may be determined. The purpose of this study was to identify what district instructional leaders know and what they need to do in order to lead teachers in creating 21st century classrooms within their schools.

The results of this study indicated that district instructional leaders had general knowledge about leading teachers in creating 21st century classrooms, but lack knowledge of digital age learning in relation to instructional leadership. Based on these results, the researcher recommends that competencies be developed and immediate training provided in this area, as well as opportunities to engage with students, teachers, and other district instructional leaders in the use of digital tools for the purpose of building a cultural understanding and global awareness.

Advisor: Jody C. Isernhagen