Unlearning as school reform: How principals facilitate school improvement in nontraditional schools




Williams, Tamey R.

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Purpose & Research Design: The purpose of this Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (Smith, Flowers, & Larkin, 2013) was to explore unlearning in education, focusing on how PK-12 principals experience unlearning while successfully facilitating school improvement. Unlearning has been identified as an important component of organizational development (Tsang & Zahra, 2008). Hedberg (1981) defined unlearning as a process through which learners discard knowledge…and make way for new responses and mental maps” (p. 18). Bradley, Golner, and Hanson (2007) acknowledge the process of learning in education fails to consider unlearning. Findings: Unlearning plays an important role in school improvement and school reform being successful. The principals identified unlearning as what needs to happen in order for school improvement/reform to occur. While the principals noted the importance of unlearning, they did not specifically provide professional development opportunities that led teachers and staff to engage in examining beliefs but rather relied upon the philosophical frameworks of the initiatives they chose to promote and evoke unlearning. Implications: Unlearning in education has implications for academia, practitioners and policy makers to consider unlearning as an affective approach to school improvement/reform that could improve the quality of schools and increase student achievement.



Unlearning, School reform, School improvement, Nontraditional school, Traditional school, Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA), Principals


Williams, T. R. (2015). <i>Unlearning as school reform: How principals facilitate school improvement in nontraditional schools</i> (Unpublished dissertation). Texas State University, San Marcos, Texas.


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