Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Master of Education




Dr. Augusto Riveros


Using an exploratory case study methodology, the study records the perceptions of thirteen secondary school department heads in an Ontario school board. After analysing the interviews with these department heads, this study uses the metaphor of Fifth Business to demonstrate how the role is perceived. This research demonstrates that department heads occupy a role that is vital but undervalued and not well-understood. Lacking supports and guidance to help them understand their role, department heads use metaphors – “advocate”, “clerk”, “liaison”, “filter,” “model” and “coordinator” – to describe how they perceive how they act in fulfilling the obligations of their role. The study recommends, that by building on these perceptions, more can be done to help clarify the role and offer support for the practitioners who are currently working in that role.