Trust in secondary public schools: A collective case study identifying how principals engage in trust development
Research has consistently shown trust to be a key factor in the effectiveness of organizations. Recently, scholars have applied the trust literature to schools, looking at implications for leaders, staff, parents, and students. This study utilized the research of Tschannen-Moran, Hoy, Bryk, and Schneider's frameworks for understanding trust in schools. The literature review drew from the disciplines of education and organizational science, including research on trust behaviors and trust in schools and organizations. The purpose of this study was to identify how secondary principals engage in trust development in public schools. Using a collective case study method, data collected for this study consisted of individual interviews and observations which were conducted with five principals in Eastern Washington State to understand the process they draw on to build trust. Additionally, archival documents were reviewed for the purpose of triangulation. The study addressed 10 research questions centered on the topic of the process of trust development in schools using Tschannen-Moran's facets of trust building. The interviews were transcribed and then analyzed with the assistance of NVivo 7 by QSR International.
The participants in this study shared their experiences with trust and betrayal in schools. The findings from this study reveal the importance of role-modeling, communication, time, and overcoming barriers to trust as components for the development of trust in secondary public schools. Investigating the possible differences in approaches to trust development between public and private schools could prove helpful to the work of school administrators. Determining if certain trust behaviors utilized in schools are generalizable to other organizations is a worthy consideration for further research as well. More research is needed to understand the role of trust development to the effectiveness of schools. All are currently underserved topics of research.