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Author ORCID Identifier



Open Access Dissertation

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)

Degree Program


Year Degree Awarded


Month Degree Awarded


First Advisor

Mary Lynn Boscardin

Second Advisor

Craig Wells

Third Advisor

Robert Marx

Subject Categories

Educational Leadership


The purpose of this dissertation is to investigate leadership perceptions of 30 leaders of special education: 10 administrators of special education, 10 principals, and 10 assistant principals. A Q-sort methodology is used to obtain and analyze participant rankings of 50 leadership statements representing instructional, distributed, and collaborative leadership. Research questions that guide this study include: 1) How are the leadership style statements ranked in relationship to participant roles?; 2) To what extent did the highest ranked leadership style component statements differ from the lowest ranked leadership items?; 3) How did the participants describe the rankings of the overall most and least important leadership statements regarding the work of a leader of special education?; 4) Are there any similarities or differences among leadership statement rankings in relationship to the participant clusters?; and 5) Are there any similarities or differences among leadership statement rankings in relationship to the participant clusters? Results revealed two factor groups, each described by a leadership profile reflecting demographic information and ratings of leadership style items. This study demonstrates the importance of leader development of multi-actor leadership styles in order to meet contemporary education demands. Further, this study proposes a revision of leadership domains currently considered to be most important for leaders of special education. This research will contribute to expanding current understanding of instructional, distributed, and collaborative leadership styles within the field of special education. Future research should be devoted to understanding factors that influence the use of multi-actor leadership styles by leaders of special education, and factors that enable development and implementation of multi-actor leadership.