The Leadership Role in Online Support Programs for Beginning Teachers
As distance learning opportunities foster a wide array for online mentoring, program administrators are in need of research supporting the successful development and management of such efforts. This qualitative research examined the leadership perspectives, skills, and strategies involved in developing and administering an online support program (also referred to as electronic mentoring) designed to help beginning teachers transition into the profession and improve their retention (National Commission on Teaching and America's Future, 2003). The population was comprised of all known programs established to date in the United States. Interviews were conducted of 28 program administrators representing 20 online programs for new teachers. Data were collected via interviews and triangulated with multiple artifacts. Consistent with practices by Strauss and Corbin (2007), data were analyzed using open, axial, and selective coding to identify, organize, and relate categories and themes. Through this analysis process, the core category, "The Leadership Role in Online Support Programs for Beginning Teachers," emerged and was based upon the interrelationships among five subcategories: (a) needs and benefits of participants, (b) program development, (c) professional development, (d) technology considerations, and (e) leadership strategies. The grounded theory resulting from these findings concluded that, successful administrators need to develop a detailed plan for online programs, weighing necessary program components including (a) an educationally diverse program team; (b) early establishment of program goals; (c) reliable methods of assessment of outcomes using constant formative evaluation; (d) a secure, reliable, non-evaluative environment; (e) training in effective online communications and relationship building; and (f) a value-added experience for participants. The leadership role of online support programs for beginning teachers requires administrators to have an in-depth understanding of the developmental needs of new teachers in concert with principles of adult learning theory and means of maximizing professional development. Of greater import than technology skills were the ability to effectively communicate online and manage in a collaborative, facilitative, ever-changing environment. Future studies should examine requirements for participants' online engagement, comparative technology for online support systems, roles adopted by facilitators, and methods of assessment of program effectiveness.
Advisor:Dr. Roberta D. Evans; Dr. William P. McCaw; Dr. Francee OReilly; Dr. L. Dean Sorenson; Dr. Sandra R. Williams
School:The University of Montana
School Location:USA - Montana
Source Type:Master's Thesis
Date of Publication:08/07/2008