School of Education


Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership (EdD)


Gail Collins


Administration, Adult Learning Theory, Special Education, Supervision


Education | Educational Administration and Supervision | Special Education and Teaching


The purpose of this transcendental phenomenological study was to describe how novice, public school administrators experience and learn to supervise special education programs. This study was founded in epistemological assumptions that specific knowledge is required to provide supervision for special education programs. This study was additionally framed using Knowles’ adult learning theory, which theorizes that adults bring their personal experiences to bear and are intrinsically motivated to learn information that they need (Knowles, 1970, 1973). For the purposes of this study, adult learning theory related to the lived experiences of administrators as they learn to supervise special education programs. The central research question examined was: What are the lived experiences of novice, public school administrators as they learn to supervise special education programs? A transcendental phenomenological design was utilized. Ten novice public school administrators from Virginia were selected as participants in an attempt to aggregate their shared experiences with the phenomenon of supervising special education programs. Data were collected via participant journals, interviews, and focus groups. Data were analyzed by coding, identifying themes, developing textural and structural descriptions, and arriving at the essence of the experience for participants (Moustakas, 1994). The five themes that emerged were: formal preparation experiences, not having the knowledge or expertise, daily tasks required, motivation for success, and acquiring the knowledge necessary. Ultimately, the study revealed that these novice administrators lacked the preparation to supervise special education programs, and upon discovering their inadequacies, they used intrinsic motivations and discovered the information necessary.