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Strecker, Jonathan P., Private middle school principal perceptions on educational culture and student development. Doctor of Education (Education), August, 2016, Sam Houston State University, Huntsville, Texas.

Purpose The purpose of this phenomenological study was to explore how private middle school principals perceive and experience educational culture and student development. An in-depth study of private middle school principals’ perceptions and experiences on the characteristics essential to cultivating a successful educational environment and fostering individual student development was explored.
Methodology Using a phenomenological design by Moustakas’, private middle school principal participants were selected for individual personal interviews. Data were recorded, transcribed, analyzed, clustered, and synthesized. Themes were identified and recorded. Findings Ten themes emerged from the responses to the two research questions. Regarding Research Question 1: What are private middle school principals’ perceptions on educational culture and individual student development; the following six themes emerged: (a) mission driven approach, (b) core developments, (c) depth of development, (d) active, intentional learning, (e) diverse environment, and (f) constituency groups Regarding Research Question 2: What are the experiences of private middle school principals with building an educational culture that supports individual student development; the following four themes emerged: (a) traditional methodologies, (b) lack of teacher knowledge, (c) lack of diversity in community, and (d) schedule constraints.
The underlying characteristics regarding educational culture and student development were a school mission, individual student attributes, levels of learning, student engagement, environmental factors, and constituency groups. The reflections and writings of John Dewey, including the importance of intellectual, social, emotional, ethical, and physical development provided for an individual student attribute framework. Dewey’s basic factors of development are further enhanced when intentionally cultivated using Bloom’s Taxonomy of learning. Bloom’s levels of learning are successfully cultivated in classrooms that focus on active engagement. Diversity in an environment fosters a sense of school connectedness for a school’s constituency groups. In this dissertation study, I conclude a strong mission driven approach, based on a Deweyan framework, cultivated through Bloom’s taxonomy, in an actively-engaged diverse classrooms, supported by teachers, students, and parents, will enhance a school’s ability to foster student development and promote a successful educational environment.



KEY WORDS: Complexity Theory, Emotional Development, Ethical Development, Intellectual Development, Middle School, Physical Development, Social Development, and Social Identifiers.