Career decision making of educational administrators and roles of educational administrator preparation programs
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Using expectancy theory as the foundation of the conceptual model, this study examined factors that influenced the career decisions of enrolled students and graduates of three educational administrator programs to apply for a preparation program; apply for an educational administrative position; and, accept a job offer. In addition, the study investigated if individuals' expectancies changed over time, as well as the role of educational administrator preparation programs in their career decision-making. A mixed methods research approach utilizing both survey and interviews in a two-stage data gathering process was employed. The findings indicate that individuals' attraction to administration come from a confluence of factors. They aspire to go into administration in order to fulfill their goals, to broaden their knowledge base and for personal growth and professional development. The perceptions that people have regarding their ability to perform a leadership role has a significant influence on their decision making. However, many people turn to their school administrators, rather than use their own expectancies, as sources of information about how to act. Their self-confidence is reinforced through the encouragement of their school administrators and their involvement in quasi-administrative responsibilities. The trend at the three key career stages reveals that people's expectancies change over time. Their perceived values and beliefs are either modified, changed or confirmed through continual socialization processes such as university learning activities, internships and work experiences. In addition, personal characteristics (such as gender and ethnicity) and the social norms in their environment can influence expectancies. Findings also indicate that an educational leadership preparation program can empower aspiring administrators to define a set of values they support, to change their views of leadership, to get a better sense of their leadership capabilities and to construct a personal leadership identity. The learning experiences from a preparation program are reflected in how school administrators lead their schools as well as impact their school cultures, teachers, and students. A preparation program also helps its students and graduates establish a network, from which they form a supportive group during their study, their job search and their work.