Date of Submission

Spring 6-7-2017

Document Type



Doctor of Education



OIP Defense Chair

Elan Paulson


department chairs, professional learning communities, PLCs, program design, polytechnic


This Organizational Improvement Plan (OIP) presents a possible solution to improve support for department chairs at a large polytechnic institution in Canada. It takes into consideration the unique situation where chairs are often hired directly from industry with little or no background in pedagogy/andragogy or postsecondary education and do not have teaching or research duties as part of their responsibilities. More specifically, this OIP focuses on the institutional Educational Development Centre’s (EDC) role in supporting chairs and addresses the following Problem of Practice: Department chairs at this institution do not receive consistent and purposeful training to support them in their roles as leaders.

By facilitating a collaborative approach through Professional Learning Communities (PLCs), combined with a formal program design process, the intention is for department chairs to help create training that will support current and incoming chairs in the area of pedagogy/andragogy. This OIP emphasizes the importance of department chair training (Craig, 2005; Filan, 1999, Gmelch & Miskin, 2011; Sirkis, 2011; Whitsett, 2007), the diversity of skills required by department chairs (Lloyd-Jones, 2012; Palmer, Hoffman-Longtin, Walvoord, Bogdewic, & Dankoski, 2015; Wolverton, Ackerman & Holt, 2005), and the lack of department chair training offered at most postsecondary institutions in North America (Filan, 1999; Gmelch & Miskin, 2011; Smith & Stewart, 1999). This OIP could be adapted to the unique contexts of other institutions to help them explore ways to better support this essential leadership group.