School of Education


Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership (EdD)


Gary Kuhne


Persistence, Superintendents, Self-determination Theory


Education | Educational Administration and Supervision | Educational Leadership


The purpose of this transcendental phenomenological research study was to describe the lived experiences of public school superintendents with the phenomenon of persistence. Self-Determination Theory was used to describe the experiences of superintendents who have held the superintendency in the same school district for at least 5 consecutive years (Deci & Ryan, 2000; Ryan & Deci, 2002). The central research question guiding the study is: What are the lived experiences of superintendents who persist in the public school superintendency? Subquestions addressed various aspects of Self-Determination Theory and persistence, including sources of motivation and goal attainment (Deci & Ryan, 2000; Ryan & Deci, 2002). Participants were recruited from among the 33 current superintendents in the Commonwealth of Virginia who have served in their positions for 5 or more years. Data was collected using a questionnaire, face-to-face interviews, and participant journals. Moustakas’ (1994) method for analyzing phenomenological data was used to analyze the data collected in the research study. Themes from the analyzed data were used to craft the structural and textural descriptions of the participants’ lived experiences in an effort to arrive at the “essence” of their experiences with persistence.