Assessing the professional development needs of principals and leaders in preK--12 educational settings

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Instructional Design, Development and Evaluation


Joseph Shedd


Principals, Vice principals, Professional development, Needs assessment, School leadership, Leader development

Subject Categories

Education | Educational Administration and Supervision | Elementary and Middle and Secondary Education Administration | Instructional Media Design


This research examines the improvement of a Kaufman type needs assessment tool. The Kaufman needs assessment model was used as a foundation and a new type of survey needs assessment tool was developed and tested in a large northeastern urban school district using principals and vice principals within that district to determine the professional development needs and education priorities of those principals and vice principals. This research is a step toward creating and improving needs assessment tools for use in other school districts and settings. Improving on the needs assessment tools available prior to this research contributes to this area of scholarly writing and research and provides a new survey instrument and data analysis methods for other researchers to use not only in education settings but in other settings as well. A modified version of a Kaufman needs assessment is used to obtain information directly from participants regarding priority preferences for principal and leader professional development. From this needs assessment a list of professional development, skill enhancement, and education priorities is generated and given to the City School District (pseudonym) for its use in further developing a plan for providing professional development and funding the priority needs of education and skill enhancement for principals and leaders.

The research findings are relevant to needs assessment researchers, practitioners, and most principal groups and schools in the United States because issues City School District faces--such as a high poverty level, broad racial and ethnic diversity, multiethnicity, cultural pluralism, overcrowding of buildings, working with inclusive education, working with special needs students, and low financial funding per student--are seen in many schools.

Lastly, this research demonstrates that improvements can be made to the Kaufman model. A new tool now exists for instructional designers, researchers, professional development specialists, and trainers. This tool will assist with selecting, planning or ordering of professional development activities, and helps provide a way to determine proper funding priorities of these activities to have the greatest impact on professional development.


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