A study of ethical decision-making in hypothetical scenarios by secondary school principals /
Kingswell, Yvonne E.
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The purpose of the study,was to investigate the ways in which secondary school principals make decisions that have an ethical dimension, and the reasons they use to justify their choices. The ethical principles and concepts, as well as the scenarios, were adapted from The Ethics ofSchool Administration by Strike, Haller, and Soltis (1998). In this study, 32 secondary principals from a school board in Ontario were asked to complete a descriptive survey which was designed to have principals make administrative decisions in response to 5 hypothetical scenarios. The open-ended questions were expected to elicit responses that were reflective of the principals' actual decision-making strategies. The survey also required them to justify and explain their reasons for each decision. The data were analyzed and 4 major categories ofjustifications emerged: pedagogy, legalism, moral code, and democracy. The results indicate that the decisions made by principals are grounded in various perspectives. While the data did not indicate any explicit knowledge of ethical principles and concepts, the principals' responses suggest sound and valid reasoning for their decision making, addressing the principles and concepts from a variety of viewpoints and using diverse justifications.