Date of Award


Level of Access Assigned by Author

Campus-Only Thesis

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Educational Leadership


Dianne Hoff

Second Committee Member

Gordon Donaldson

Third Committee Member

Elizabeth Allan

Additional Committee Members

Richard Ackerman

Sarah Mackenzie


This study examines the socialization experiences of curriculum directors new to a Maine school system. First-year socialization—how new hires learn about their new role and new organization—can have significant impacts on job effectiveness and satisfaction. This can be especially challenging for a curriculum director, a position often characterized by ambiguous job expectations, unclear “power status” on the hierarchical ladder, and the tendency to inherit less desirable tasks from other administrators. With increasing national attention on standards-based education and accountability and declining pools of qualified administrative candidates, it is imperative that school systems focus on identifying and meeting the socialization needs of those fundamentally responsible for curriculum, instruction, and assessment.

The purpose of the study was to explore the first-year experiences of curriculum directors—what their expectations were for the position and the new school system, how those expectations were confirmed or disconfirmed, and what their perceptions about their job effectiveness were during their first year. Qualitative methods were employed as they allow in-depth examination and analysis of participants’ sensemaking of personal perceptions and experiences. Eight participants were interviewed twice using phenomenological protocols and the transcripts were analyzed using constant comparative methods to surface patterns and emerging themes.

The findings illuminate several themes about the curriculum director position as well as organizational socialization processes. First, the role of curriculum director continues to be poorly understood and minimally supported by school systems. The challenges that accompany the position include: working in isolation with moving timelines and expectations; increased accountability expectations for improving student achievement; leading by influence and expertise rather than position; and building capacity in teachers and other administrators for curriculum-related work. Further, the lack of clearly articulated organizational goals for the position compromises valid assessment of job effectiveness. Moreover, there is evidence that a modification of socialization models is in order to address newcomer entry into organizations with ambiguous goals. Lastly, the results of the study may have implications for prospective curriculum directors, school systems and educational leadership graduate programs.