Principal preparation program pedagogy and course delivery are critical to principal candidates' preparedness to lead. Research around online program delivery, however, is relatively sparse. This study examined the extent to which university-based educational leadership programs offered fully online (FOL) pathways to the principalship, as well as program geographic locations and institutional characteristics most associated with FOL offerings.
Data were collected through website reviews and coding checks, and then merged with national postsecondary data. Data were analyzed using descriptive statistics, classification tree analysis, and geographic information system (GIS) mapping.
Roughly 43 percent of all reviewed programs offered an FOL pathway to licensure, which suggests substantial growth in FOL offerings over the last 10 years. While a number of factors were deemed important, geographic characteristics were most associated with FOL status. GIS mapping further illustrated findings with a visual landscape of program FOL offerings.
This study considered only programs for which degrees or certificates could be earned without ever visiting campus in-person for classes. Hybrid programs were excluded from the analysis.
Findings make a clear call for more research into online principal preparation program design and course delivery.
This study provides the first overview of fully online university-based principal preparation programs in the United States while also offering a previously unavailable landscape of all programs specifically leading to licensure. It is also the only higher education study to map or investigate factors associated with FOL offerings and raises questions about prior FOL higher education research.
The authors would like to acknowledge Dr. Adam D. Nowak, Associate Professor of Economics at West Virginia University, for his contributions to this study.
Perrone, F., Rice, M., Anderson, E. and Budhwani, S. (2020), "Fully online principal preparation: prevalence, institutional characteristics, geography", Journal of Educational Administration, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print. https://doi.org/10.1108/JEA-05-2019-0088Download as .RIS
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