Applying Transforming Leadership in Urban Middle School Classrooms: A Case Study of Two Colorado Districts

Date of Award


Document Type

Doctoral Research Paper

Degree Name


Organizational Unit

Morgridge College of Education, Educational Leadership and Policy Studies

First Advisor

Erin Anderson, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Doris Candelarie, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Sarah Bridich, Ph.D.


Human capital development, Student-follower, Teacher-leader, Transactional leadership, Transformational leadership, Transformative leadership, Transforming leadership


With increased emphasis on accountability measures, there is a need to identify classroom leadership behaviors that are most effective in improving student outcomes. Studies have shown that transformational leadership can improve performance (Bass et al., 2003; Thomas et al., 2002; Bass & Yammariono, 1998; Dvir et al., 2002; Hardy, 2010). Much of the early research on transformational leadership took place in military settings. Members of the U.S. Armed Forces undergo systematic leadership development based on the key tenets of transformational leadership theory. Evidence suggests that vets who have become teachers (VTTs), can produce measurably higher student achievement (Nunnery et al., 2009; Owings et al., 2006, 2015). Conversely, the literature review uncovered deficiencies in leadership development for teachers (Leithwood & Duke,1999; York-Barr & Duke, 2004; Wenner & Campbell, 2017).

The purpose of this study is to understand how veterans, who have become teachers, use transformational leadership in their practice (Bass, 1985, 1998; Burns, 1978, 2003). Methods employed were a multi-participant qualitative case study (Merriam & Tisdell, 2016; Yin, 2018). Data were collected from principals and purposefully selected VTTs. In addition, over 35-hours of classroom observations were conducted. The findings indicate that vets draw heavily upon their learned transformational leadership behaviors, more so than content knowledge or pedagogy. This doctoral research project is a first step in understanding how transforming leadership may impact individual student achievement and classroom performance. However, to fully understand the impact of classroom leadership, an in-depth examination is required.

Publication Statement

Copyright is held by the author. Permanently suppressed.

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