Date of Award

Spring 4-24-2020

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Organizational Leadership

First Advisor

Douglas DeVore, Ed.D.

Second Advisor

Kelly Davids, Ed.D.

Third Advisor

Laurie Goodman, Ed.D.


Purpose. The purpose of this mixed methods descriptive case study was to explore and describe the importance of self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, and relationship management EI characteristics as perceived by principals when implementing the 10 learning distinguishers of Big Picture Learning (BPL) schools’ conceptual framework in order to support the academic success of ninth- to 12th-grade students attending BPL alternative education schools in the Southwestern United States.

Methodology. This mixed methods research design used qualitative and quantitative data to analyze the research questions regarding the importance of EI characteristics when supporting student academic success according to alternative education principals. The study combined 2 methods, surveys, and interviews in a sequential manner. The population for the study included current principals of BPL alternative education schools.

Findings. Through their surveys, principals rated all 4 EI traits as essential or important when implementing the 10 distinguishers but prioritized them in the following order from most to least important: self-management, relationship management, social awareness, and self-awareness. In contrast, principals elaborated on the importance of the 4 EI traits during their interviews in the following order of most frequently to least frequently: social awareness, self-awareness, relationship management, and self-management.

Conclusions. Principals perceive all 4 EI traits (i.e., self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, and relationship management) as essential or important when implementing the BPL 10 distinguishers. However, the EI characteristics of self-confidence, integrity, knowing how to read an audience, and cultivating purposeful relationships surfaced as the most essential above all others within their respective EI trait areas.

Recommendations for Action. Alternative education school leaders in general and BPL school leaders in particular must use the research presented in this study as a comprehensive reference manual specific for the undisclosed leadership responsibilities inherent within their job. Researchers should replicate this study in other Big Picture regions around the country to compare the principal perceptions on the importance of EI characteristics in those regions with the perceptions of principals within the Southwestern United States or other types of alternative education schools.