Date of Award

Spring 5-12-2017

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Educational Policy Studies

First Advisor

Sheryl Cowart Moss, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Yinying Wang, Ed.D.

Third Advisor

Glenn Pethel, Ed.D.


Principal supervisors are responsible for developing and enhancing the instructional leadership capacity of the principals they support. With this responsibility in mind, the primary purpose of this qualitative study was to examine the influence of professional learning for principal supervisors on their instructional leadership capacity. Sociocultural learning theory framed this case-oriented comparative study that sought to examine how principal supervisors learn and how school districts make the learning possible. Similarities and differences of individuals were explored. Qualitative data was gathered from documents, questionnaires, interviews, and observations of principal supervisors, as well as from questionnaires given to principals in the participating district. The district included in the study was located in the Southeastern United States and was chosen through purposeful sampling. Using the Vygotsky Space model, the nature of professional learning for principal supervisors was examined.

Evidence of individual and collective learning was coded through four iterative phases: (a) appropriation, (b) transformation, (c) publication, and (d) conventionalization. Qualitative analysis of the coded data helped identify themes and uncover potential relationships between professional learning for principal supervisors and the principal supervisors’ ability to support and develop principals. Findings from the study speak to the need for specifically designed programs for principal supervisors. The findings highlighted similarities between the knowledge and skills both principal supervisors and principals believed were needed to better support principals. The outcomes described in the findings also pointed to a need for principal supervisors to engage in learning experiences that are both public and private and encourage growth for the individual and across the team of principal supervisors.