Doctor of Public Affairs and Administration
Department: School of Public Affairs and Administration
Title: Examination of the Skills and Dispositions
Needed for Assistant Principals to be Effective Disciplinarians
Dr. Peter Kobrak, Chair
Dr. Cynthia Mader
Dr. Wendy Wintermute
July 9, 2003, 3:30 p.m.-5:30 p.m.
SPAA Conference Rm.-Walwood-2nd floor
The main purpose of this study was to identify
the set of key skills and dispositions needed by secondary school assistant
principals to function as effective disciplinarians. A secondary purpose
of this study was to explore the perceptions of males and females concerning
this topic. This was accomplished by exploring the perceptions of experts
and practitioners, both male and female, concerning their ideas on
The skills and dispositions needed by assistant principals at the secondary
level to be successful disciplinarians.
This study used two methods of data collection, the Delphi Method of
collecting information and focus groups. A panel of experts thus rank-ordered
the set of key skills and dispositions deemed essential to assistant
principals during the discipline process. This ranked list of skills
and dispositions was then used as an introductory activity in two focus
groups of current assistant principals, one male and one female.
Based on the results of this study, the skills and dispositions identified
to be most needed by assistant principals to be successful disciplinarians
are skills to be fair while establishing a positive school climate.
Also identified as most needed are the dispositions to be honest, trustworthy,
straightforward and ethical. Being an effective communicator is also
identified as an essential skill.
A frustration expressed by practitioners was the unique issues surrounding
the discipline requirements of students with special needs. For example,
a need for assistant principals to possess greater knowledge of classroom
management and also of specific groups of students, such as students
with special needs, was identified.
Overall, both male and female practitioners and experts in the field
of education agreed upon the skills and dispositions needed for assistant
principals to be successful disciplinarians. However, assistant principals
felt that the full variety of skills they bring to the position is not
appreciated. Rather than be considered only as disciplinarians, practitioners
felt that they should be viewed as educational leaders with discipline
seen as only a part of their responsibilities.
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