Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




Sandra Guzman Foster


Danielle Alsandor


Diane Fisher


Research Focus. In school systems, educational achievements of students and success of schools is often dependent on teachers and administrators charged with educating students, communicating with parents, along with translating and implementing a multitude of local, district, state, and federal policies (Halawah, 2005). However, recent decades have seen the highest turnover and lowest teacher satisfaction rates. As a result of teacher turnover and decline in teacher satisfaction, the National Association of State Boards of Education (NASBE, 2012), recommends that states address conditions that cause teachers to leave the profession.

One of the ways of enhancing teacher (and other employee) satisfaction within their work places is to create open communication climates that value contributions of all employees, promote open exchange of ideas, and create positive work environments (Gonzales, 2014). Local, state and national governing bodies encourage the enhancement of campus communication efforts as a way to increase teacher engagement, perception of school culture, and their right to have open and honest communication (Fagan-Smith, 2013).

While there is extensive literature on teacher dropout, issues of retention, and the negative impact of closed communication climates (Ahghar, 2008), there is little written on ways in which school leaders create open communication and engage with employees in sharing information and accomplishing organizational goals (Carr, 2007). The purpose of this qualitative study was to explore principals’ views and actions relating to open communication on K-12 campus environments of a large Texas public school district. This study examined meanings attached to open communication and how those meanings were translated into campus communication culture. By understanding communication from the principal’s perspective and by engaging in dialogue about the role of communication, the researcher has provided principal viewpoints that district leaders can utilize as they continue working toward school transformation and student achievement. By studying the perspectives and experiences of these school principals, the research has the potential to impact principal training programs, school district leaders, and campus management initiatives.

This qualitative study was guided by the following research questions:

* What are elementary school leaders’ perspectives about and experiences with communication and the development of open communication environments?

* How may school leaders’ perspectives about communication impact campus communication culture?

Research Methods. This study was conducted using a qualitative interpretive approach with qualitative methods for analysis. Walsham (1993) asserts that the purpose of the interpretive approach in information science is to produce an understanding of the context and the process whereby information science influences and is influenced by the context. This approach seeks to understand the meaning people assign to specific problems or social phenomena (Creswell,

2011). I selected a qualitative interpretive methodology for this study because I wanted to capture the perspectives of campus principals as shared through their personal accounts.

The primary participants were elementary school principals. Elementary school principals were selected as primary participants because they provide a larger participant pool, in comparison to middle school and high school principals. Through snowball and convenience sampling, I selected 10 elementary school administrators to participate in the interviews. Face-to-face interviewing was the primary tool used for data collection.

As described by Yin (2011), the analysis of qualitative data takes place in 5 phases. The phases include compiling the data, disassembling the data, reassembling the data, interpreting the data, and concluding the study. Data analysis methods were influenced by what participants marked as significant (Bloome, Carter, Christian, Otto, & Shuart-Faris, 2005) for understanding their views about campus communication and the development of communication environments and cultures. Data were obtained through recorded and transcribed interviews. The transcribed documents were imported into the NVIVO software system, where they were disassembled and reassembled. A thematic analysis occurred after the data had been organized and managed using NVIVO.

Research Results/Findings. Analysis revealed 5 key findings related to the following themes: (a) challenges related to the scope of the role, (b) having mentors, (c) principal’s leadership style impact on campus communication culture, (d) methods of communication, and (e) one-on-one communication topics.

Conclusions from Research. As a result of this research I recommend the following approaches to enhance the academic and professional development of public school elementary school principals: (1) collaboration among school districts and university administrator program faculty, (2) evaluation of university administrator program content and revision, (3) school district formal mentoring programs, (4) professional development related to the communication component for school principals.

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