Education Doctorate

Year Approved


First Advisor

McDowell, Bob


The purpose of this study was to understand the role of the principal and the role of the change recipient in the organizational change process specific to the implementation of effective character education. The study utilized a constructivist grounded theory approach in conducting research and formulating a conclusion. Respondents included eight middle school principals from across the United States who led a National School of Character in the past three years. Transferability and credibility were enhanced through the participation of the researcher in a bracketing interview to identify potential biases, double coding by an outside analyst of the regular interviews, and checks with respondents regarding transcriptions and codes. The findings of this study suggests the organizational change process evolved differently in each of the eight schools and the change process did not follow a consistent linear pattern. Common practices were identified in the change process among the National Schools of Character in this study represented by themes. Themes were codes that occurred in at least six of the eight interviews. Themes included Principal Forming a Leadership Team; Principal Providing Opportunities for Teacher Voice in a Culture of Trust and Open Communication; Use of the 11 Principles Framework; Building Momentum/Changing Mindsets; Staff Contributing to the Identification of the Need or Rationale for Character Education; Staff Contributing to the Identification and Removal of Obstacles; and Staff Contributing to the Creation of the School’s Mission, Vision, Plans, Values, and Common Language and/or Common Expectations. This study focused on the perspective of middle school principals. Additional qualitative research should explore the experiences of staff members in the character education change process, the change process at various levels (elementary and high school), and keys to sustaining character education.

Degree Name

Education Doctorate

Document Type

Doctoral dissertation

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