Campus Location

Dallas Campus (Online)

Date of Award


Document Type



Educational Leadership

Degree Name

Doctor of Education

Committee Chair or Primary Advisor

John Kellmayer

Second Committee Member or Secondary Advisor

Kyle Butler

Third Committee Member or Committee Reader

Leah Wickersham-Fish


Prevailing research on instructional leadership has primarily focused on school administration to fulfill this role. Growing accountability from state officials, increased departmentalization, and demands on administrations’ time and resources led to the need to study other avenues of leadership in secondary schools. In this qualitative case study, the researcher looked at the current perceptions and beliefs of administration, department chairs, and teachers concerning the department chair role. An understanding of department chairs’ instructional leadership capacity, distributed leadership in the school of study, and collective efficacy were investigated to determine the best ways to employ department chairs to support teacher development while impacting student performance. Interviews of administrators, department chairs, and teachers were solicited to provide their perceptions and beliefs regarding the position of department chair through the lens of instructional leadership. Similarities and differences were collected to develop descriptive themes designed to encompass department chair characteristics currently present in the school of study. The study findings indicated continuity in some aspects of the role of department chair while highlighting disparities between perceived and substantive characteristics. The major themes of collaboration, trust, traditional management, advocacy, mentorship, growth mindset, instruction, and distributed leadership were found throughout the participants’ responses. Perceptions and beliefs of how each group observed these themes regarding the research questions illustrated areas of inconsistencies for future analysis and study. As a consequence, a clearly defined job description and training program for the position of department chair and other lower-level positions such as professional learning community leads need to be considered to provide more opportunity for the role of departments to develop their instructional leadership capacity, to enhance teacher growth, and to increase student success.

iv Keywords: administrators, collective efficacy, department chairs, distributed leadership, instructional leadership

Creative Commons License

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



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