Campus Location

Dallas Campus (Online)

Date of Award


Document Type



Educational Leadership

Degree Name

Doctor of Education

Committee Chair or Primary Advisor

Timothy B. Jones

Second Committee Member or Secondary Advisor

Leah Wickersham-Fish

Third Committee Member or Committee Reader

Katherine Yeager


The researcher explored perceptions of the research-practice gap in education, the process through which central actors make decisions related to teacher retention and development, and the organizational conditions that promote and impede research-engagement in this qualitative study. The researcher limited the study to the role of the campus principal and used purposive sampling to select participants from 3 diverse districts in the state of Texas. Because there may be discrepancies between leaders’ perceptions and behaviors, the researcher conducted interview sessions with principals and principal supervisors and conducted observation sessions in principals’ natural work environments. The study results showed that good intentions, a willing disposition, access to research, and an open stance toward research evidence do little to narrow the divide between research and practice. The researcher concluded the distance between research and practice in education is not due not to attitudinal factors, but organizational structure. To facilitate research-engagement, the researcher recommended that organizational leaders (a) reimagine how and where principals work, (b) situate principals around transformational work, (c) build principals’ capacity to make better decisions at work, and (d) stabilize and reinforce the impact of innovative work.

Keywords: decision-making, organizational context, research engagement, systems approach, teacher development, teacher retention

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.