Exploring the principal's experience with the diffusion of dual language immersion
One of the most critical issues facing American public schools and school administrators is implementing effective instructional programs for teaching English Language Learners (ELLs). Presently in the United States, ELL students in Kindergarten-12th grade are lagging behind academically in comparison to their English-only speaking classmates. Dual Language Immersion (DLI) presents an educational model that is proving to be most promising. Accordingly, DLI programs are on the rise as is the need to provide school principals with guidance on effectively implementing or diffusing DLI at their campuses. Thus, this qualitative research examines the principal's experience with the diffusion of DLI. It employs case study methodology and a purposefully selected sample comprised of 17 subjects from two DLI campuses. Everett Rogers' Diffusion of Innovations theory served as the study's main theoretical framework. Data collection methods generated a series of individual and focus group interviews, a total of 23 separate observations, and 91 physical artifacts.
From the data emerged 13 significant findings which are first presented and organized under their respective element of diffusion. They are later reconstructed more holistically under each research question. What emerged was a layered synthesis which suggests that: DLI principals actively upholding the use of two languages, lead a cultural paradigm shift, make collective innovation-decisions, are flexible and directly involved, address miscommunication and the varying stages of diffusion, form part of a greater social structure, address consequences of diffusion, serve as advocates, and remain positive and passionate. Additionally, DLI as a radical innovation is discussed as are the ways teachers influence the diffusion of DLI. Recommendations for school principals, for principal and teacher preparation programs, for policy and for future research are presented.