Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Educational Leadership


Secondary school department chairs are content area specialists in their schools and are responsible for providing students with the most appropriate curricula. However, most secondary school department chairs have limited authority to institute change unilaterally (Gmelch, 1993; Hannay & Erb, 1999). To explore how these educational leaders navigate the change process within their departments, this study examined the change stories of six secondary school science department chairs who had led change attempts. In total, these department chairs shared six stories of successful change attempts and four unsuccessful change attempts. The topics of leadership and change were accessed through department chair interviews, document analysis, and a leadership inventory. Department chair leadership was analyzed with Blake and McCanse's (1991) Leadership Grid, and further explored using Yukl, Gordon, and Taber's (2002) detailed characterization of this grid. The change processes described in these department chair stories were analyzed using the frameworks provided by Ely's (1990) conditions of change, and Havelock and Zlotolow (1995) CREATER change stages model. In general, the findings of this study support Havelock and Zlotolow's CREATER model, as well as Ely's conditions of change, with dissatisfaction with the status quo emerging as the essential condition for successful change. This study connects these change process frameworks to specific leadership strategies and behaviors, and uses these connections to illuminate differences between successful and unsuccessful instances of change. These findings, along with other unanticipated findings emerging from department chair stories of change, such as the adverse influence of contentious resistors and the importance of team construction, add both to the literature on change and leadership and to the crucial point where these concepts intersect.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.