Date of Award

12-2016

Culminating Project Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Educational Administration and Leadership, K-12: Ed.D.

Department

Educational Administration and Higher Education

College

School of Education

First Advisor

Frances Kayona

Second Advisor

John Eller

Third Advisor

Roger Worner

Fourth Advisor

Melissa Krull

Creative Commons License

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

Keywords and Subject Headings

Impact of Media Culture School Superintendents

Abstract

Abstract

School superintendents in the 21st century face a prolific media culture with widespread and easy public access to information. The internet allows instantaneous dissemination of information and news about educational issues (Kowalski, 2005). Because community members, staff, parents and students can quickly communicate using the internet and cell phones, modern day superintendents need to be adept in dealing with both internal and external communication (Kowalski, McCord, Peterson, Young & Ellerson, 2011). Internal stakeholder groups include school staff, parents and students. These communications also arise and originate from external stakeholder groups which include the information and social media networks, news media, community leaders, local and state political leaders, and higher education (Kowalski et. al., 2011; Lockhart, 2011).

The problem for the study was to analyze Minnesota school superintendents’ perceptions of the impact of intense media scrutiny and relations with communication media in general on their sense of influence, length of tenure and professional aspirations regarding their profession. In light of the rapid changes in communication technologies, school leaders are increasingly being subjected to more scrutiny regarding their decisions about school change and policy. At times this scrutiny becomes not only intense, but hostile and even threatening (Carr, 2013; Eaton & Sharp, 1996; Hawk & Martin, 2011; Metzger, 2003; Metzger, 1997). The study examines to what extent this news media environment impacts the role of the superintendent.

The study examines superintendent perceptions regarding their interactions and experiences with media culture using a questionnaire and selected interviews. Survey data was gathered from approximately [300] public school superintendents who are members of the Minnesota Association of School Administrators (MASA) professional organization. Three superintendents were invited to participate in a follow-up interview in order to glean additional perspectives and information regarding their interactions and experiences with media culture. Participants were asked to complete a 23-item survey in summer 2014 using Survey Monkey®. Data was analyzed using descriptive statistics for selected items and non-numerical language to analyze results from open-ended comments. Qualitative methods were used to analyze results from selected interviews. Results from the study may assist current and aspiring school superintendents to gain a deeper understanding of how information technology and the communication age impacts professional ambition and ability to carry out this role.

The research questions for the study were:

1. To what extent does the media culture affect the superintendent’s leadership success and perception of one’s ability to influence and impact the organization?

2. To what extent does the media culture impact the professional tenure (longevity) and career of school superintendents?

3. To what extent does the media culture affect the professional aspirations of school superintendent?

In the study, the impact of the media culture on the role of the superintendent was found to be distracting from job responsibilities. The results of the survey displayed that the slant or bias of news information and social media were strong factors that impacted professional tenure and job satisfaction.

Comments/Acknowledgements

Acknowledgements

I would like to acknowledge my Committee Chairperson, Dr. Frances Kayona, for her support, guidance and wisdom throughout the completion of my dissertation work. I would also like to thank my dissertation committee members Dr. John Eller, Dr. Roger Worner, and Dr. Melissa Krull for their patience and time in supporting me through this journey. Their enthusiasm when looking at research and data was inspiring.

I would like to thank my daughters, Natalie and Nicole, for their patience, love and understanding of my tenacious spirit. I hope that I have been an example of what it looks like to pursue their dreams.

I want to thank my very best friend, Mike, for believing in me and creating a loving and embracing space for me to believe in myself.

Lastly, I would like to thank my parents for their belief in my abilities and their financial support throughout the years with my graduate work. It is with a spirit of loving gratitude that I thank my parents for loving and guiding me to always do my best. They have truly instilled in me a spirit of humility and compassion for others.

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