Principals' Perceptions of Leadership Practices that Lead to Academic Success in Suburban Schools: An Interpretive Qualitative Research Study

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D)


Educational Administration

Date of Award

Spring 2023


This interpretive qualitative study was designed to explore three middle school principals’ use of transformational leadership practices that improve students’ academic success outcomes. An interpretive qualitative research study seeks to view the world from participants’ perspectives—seeing the world through their eyes to inform the experiences and views operating in their lives (Merriam & Tisdell, 2016). In seeking to view principals’ perceptions of transformational leadership, a broad range of historical leadership and peer-reviewed research practices was highlighted. However, information on how transformational leadership, from a principal’s perception, affects their academic practices in suburban middle schools was limited. The historical perspective of the effective schools research (ESR) movement has proven to be a valid template for transformative change and improvement in schools today. Past and present studies about transformational leadership are captured in the evolving history, exploring the effect on student learning, school and community engagement, and culture. In addition, this scholarly research illuminates the leadership factors and domains of transformational leadership practices, focusing on principals’ perceptions through their experiences. This research was conducted using an interpretive qualitative design to address the central phenomenon of transformational leadership from principals’ perceptions of leadership practices that lead to academic success. For this interpretive qualitative design, the Zoom platform was used to conduct one-on-one interviews; transcribed notes, and audio recordings with three principals using semi-structured open-ended questions relating to their experiences and behavioral systems of leadership effectiveness in suburban middle schools were analyzed to develop findings and conclusions.


Julia W. Ballenger

Subject Categories

Education | Educational Administration and Supervision