Examining the Impact of Field Experiences on Candidates' Competence and Confidence in an Instructional Leadership Preparation Program
Tulip Tree University’s Instructional Leadership Program prepares aspiring principals and assistant principals to become instructional leaders in Tennessee’s PreK-12 schools. One way the program does this is by requiring instructional leadership candidates to participate in field experiences and share their learning through practicum project presentations each semester. This capstone project drew from Experiential Learning Theory to learn more about participants’ perceived development according to the Tennessee Instructional Leadership Standards (TILS) and participants’ perceived confidence in their leadership abilities due to their participation in field experiences. I used semi-structured, open-ended interviews and observations of participants’ practicum presentations to determine how participants applied their learning from core classes to leadership challenges in the field and how their practicum projects developed their competence and confidence as instructional leaders. Overall, practicum projects helped participants practice some TILS indicators and positively influenced participants’ confidence in their capabilities as future instructional leaders. Tulip Tree University can promote practice with more TILS indicators and support participants’ engagement with the full experiential learning cycle by making changes to practicum projects’ existing guidelines and the scoring rubric for practicum project presentations.