Paper Type

Doctoral Dissertation


College of Education and Human Services

Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership (EdD)


Leadership, School Counseling & Sport Management

NACO controlled Corporate Body

University of North Florida. Department of Leadership, School Counseling & Sports Management

First Advisor

Dr. Elinor Sheirer

Second Advisor

Dr. Christopher Janson

Third Advisor

Dr. Madalina Tanase

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Charles Closmann

Fifth Advisor

Dr. Anne Swanson

Department Chair

Dr. Christopher Janson

College Dean

Dr. Diane Yendol-Hoppey


The concept of pedagogical content knowledge (PCK) provides a framework for understanding the professional demands of secondary-school teachers in facilitating student learning. Teachers develop their PCK both formally in preservice and inservice education and informally with their colleagues. Teacher leaders, such as the secondary-school department chairs, can work with colleagues to promote professional growth. The purpose of this study was to understand how secondary-school department chairs understood PCK and perceived their role in promoting the PCK growth of their department colleagues. A qualitative research design using in-depth, semi-structured interviews involved 15 participants from one school district in the southeast of the U.S. Data analysis used Eisner’s (1998) four-part approach to criticism—description, interpretation, evaluation, and thematics—as the overall framework, with Hatch’s (2002) typological analysis facilitating the description and interpretation phases. The two dimensions of description and interpretation occurred simultaneously, with six typologies organizing the discussion; how participants understood and defined PCK; knowledge of context within PCK; participants’ understanding of the importance of content knowledge; growth of the teacher; development of PCK in professional learning communities; and department chair leadership in developing PCK. The evaluation dimension revealed that these chairs did indeed work with their colleagues in developing PCK that, in turn, facilitated student learning. Three major themes based on the data were developed: experienced teachers in leadership positions possess key elements of PCK; department chairs can lead as teachers; and teacher leaders bring their tacit PCK into the explicit. Implications for leadership include the need for district and school-based administrators to support the role that department chairpersons play in the professional growth of their colleagues, to provide developmental opportunities for teachers designed to focus on PCK and how PCK furthers student learning and to take advantage of the leadership offered by department chairs in promoting teachers’ professional growth. Further study might examine how department chairs work directly with their colleagues to develop PCK, how such development of PCK operates in contexts with different demographics than those of the present study, and how department chairs at different points in their careers assist their colleagues in their PCK growth.