An investigation of the perceptions held by urban elementary school teachers and principals relative to administrative leadership traits

Rufus Young Jr., Atlanta University


The purpose of this study is two-fold: (1) to identify the differences, if any, between the perceptions held by urban school teachers of urban school principals’ administrative leadership behaviors and urban school principals’ self-assessments of their leadership behaviors and (2) to determine if the responses of the principals relative to school activities that implement the leadership behaviors correlated with their self-assessments.

The study was limited to 209 teachers and 55 principals in the Atlanta Public School System, Atlanta, Georgia.

Three instruments developed by Selective Research Incorporated were used: (1) the Teacher Administrator Questionnaire administered to teachers; (2) the Administrator Self-Assessment Questionnaire administered to principals; and (3) the Administrator Perceiver Interview, a face-to-face, taped, structured interview, administered to thirty of the fifty-five principals. These three instruments have a common basis; that is, each instrument is developed around the twelve life themes espoused by Selective Research Incorporated as characterizing administrative behaviors that facilitate the growth of teachers, which in turn facilitates the growth of students. These life themes are Mission, Manpower Development, Relator, Arranger, Catalyzer, Audience Sensitivity, Group Enhancer, Discriminator, Performance Orientation, Work Orientation, and Ambiguity Tolerance.

Analysis of variance was used to test the first set of null hypotheses at the .05 level of significance as to the differences between the perceptions held by urban school teachers relative to urban school administrative leadership behaviors and the assessments of urban school principals of their administrative behaviors. The null hypothesis was rejected for each of the twelve hypotheses related to the twelve life themes. Teachers’ perceptions of principals’ administrative behaviors were different from the principals’ assessments of their own administrative behaviors.

When the teachers were grouped by the variables sex, race, age, years of teaching experience, and academic training, they were consistent in their perceptions of principals’ administrative behaviors. However, teachers with more academic training rated the principals significantly higher on theme Delegator than did teachers with less academic training.

When the principals were grouped by the same variables, only black principals and older principals differed in their self—assessments. Black principals assessed themselves significantly higher than did white principals on seven of the twelve life themes, and older principals assessed themselves significantly higher than did younger principals on three of the twelve life themes.

Pearson Correlation Coefficients were computed to test the second set of null hypotheses at the .05 level of significance as to whether the principals’ responses in a structured interview correlated with their self-assessments. The null hypothesis was accepted for each of the hypotheses. The principals’ responses during the interviews to questions regarding school activities that reflect administrative behaviors described by the twelve life themes did not correlate with their self-assessments relative to conducting school tasks in keeping with the twelve life themes.

The major recommendations resulting from this study are as foIlows:

I. A longitudinal study should be made using the teacher—rating and principal-assessment instruments as a basis for planning and conducting in-service training for administrators, followed by post administration of the instruments

2. On-going use of the procedure employed in this study can be used by individual school administrators in an effort to assess needs in relation to staff morale