UBC Faculty Research and Publications

Complexity and Volume: An Inquiry into Factors that Drive Principals’ Work Pollock, Katina; Wang, Fei; Hauseman, David Cameron


Background: The work of contemporary school principals is intensifying in terms of its complexity and volume. Many factors moderate and drive such work intensification. This study aims to understand what and how factors interact to complicate principals’ work. Methods: Focus groups and an online survey were used for data collection. Three focus group sessions with eight principals were conducted to help develop and refine the online survey. The survey covers 12 key areas in principals’ work and was distributed among the members of Ontario Principals’ Council. Descriptive statistics, correlation and factor analysis were conducted on survey results. Results: The study shows that there are many key areas that moderate principals’ work, such as administrative duties and responsibilities, jurisdictional policies, external influences, partnerships, and challenges and possibilities. School principals are experiencing increased expectations at work in terms of the number of tasks they are expected to undertake, the duration of time they are required to complete those tasks, and the many challenges they face at their work. Conclusions: Principals’ choice of leadership approaches and practices is subject to factors that exist within and beyond schools. Such factors moderate the way that principals carry out their work and limit their choices in exercising their professional autonomy.

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