Exploring the Experiences of Administrative Interns: A Phenomenological Approach Open Access
This phenomenological investigation explores the experiences of administrative interns throughout their administrative internship to discover how they perceive and make meaning of their internship experiences - their thoughts, feelings, concerns, and aspirations. All thirteen participants were students in one university administrator preparation program pursuing either a Masters degree, Education Specialist degree, or a post-graduate certificate in education administration. The researcher conducted two semi-structured interviews with each participant. The first interview took place within the four weeks leading up to the internship, and the second interview was within the two weeks after completion of the internship. Moustakas' (1994) model for transcendental phenomenology was used to analyze the descriptions of what each participant experienced, as well as how he or she experienced the administrative internship. Developmental Concerns Theory (Fuller, 1969; Fuller & Brown, 1975) provided a theoretical lens to further analyze participant's descriptions of their experiences. The researcher used these descriptions to reveal an overall essence of the phenomenon of the administrative internship. Results from analyzing participant experiences and descriptions about how they experience and make meaning of the administrative internship revealed two main themes: (a) Personal Factors, such as readiness to lead, posting journal reflections, and a change in perception of administration, and (b) Outside Factors, such as supporting teachers, receiving feedback from others, and level of supervisor support. The essence of the experiences uncovered that Outside Factors, particularly level of supervisor support, had a greater impact on participant meaning making than did Personal Factors. This led the researcher to conclude that interns' experiences directly affected their self-efficacy and readiness to lead, opportunities for reflection did not lead to productive reflective practice, and the relationship between the intern and internship supervisor directly affected how interns conceptualize and make meaning of the administrative internship. While most of the literature on administrator preparation programs seeks to offer recommendations on program improvement, this study provides possibilities for cognizance regarding the impact of internship placement and intern/supervisor pairings on how interns conceptualize the role of administrator and make meaning of their internship experiences as preparation turns into practice.
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