Department of Educational Administration


Document Type


Date of this Version



Published in Educational Management Administration & Leadership 2020, Vol. 48(2), pp 353–378.

DOI: 10.1177/1741143218802596


Copyright © 2018 Taeyeon Kim. Published by SAGE Publications. Used by permission.


In this study, I explore how school principals experience transformative learning in relation to leadership development and how these experiences influence their leadership practices and perceptions. Transformative learning is critical for school leaders because it can lead to meaningful learning that qualitatively changes their leadership practices. Assuming that personally significant incidents are important for transformative learning, I analyzed qualitative data collected from 12 school principals in the United States. Analysis revealed that with these transformative learning experiences, school principals established strong foundations of leadership assumptions and strategies by changing and expanding their views of themselves and others. My findings suggest that education for principal leadership development should provide opportunities to explore multiple dimensions of learning, how relationships and school contexts influence leadership decision making, and how principals perceive themselves as leaders. This study contributes to a more dynamic understanding of how school leaders make actual change in their leadership practices.