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Abstract

Recent research extols the value of problem-based learning strategies in exemplary school leadership preparation programs as one way to provide school leaders with the appropriate tools to systematically use data to make important decisions. The purpose of this study was to address the current gap between the noted importance of problem-based learning strategies in leadership preparation programs, and the demonstrated effect these strategies have on the knowledge, skills, behaviours, and values of school leaders. The study employed a longitudinal mixed-method research design to examine discrete action research skills, behaviours, and values of 44 candidates enrolled in a Master of Arts in Educational Administration degree program. Inferential analysis of the pre- and post-test survey data indicated a statistically significant increase in self-reported preparedness and capacity for all but two of the 14 core research activities assessed on the survey instrument. There are powerful and potentially long lasting outcomes for leadership candidates that complete a full cycle of action research as part of a principal preparation program. This study allows some tentative mapping of the actual skills, behaviours, and values that school leaders may evince as a result of deep exposure to practitioner driven action research.