Administrative Behavior: The Ripple Effect        

A study of how specific principal behaviors affect teacher and student performance


Dissertation Defense
Significant Quotes
Origin of Study
Conceptual Framework
Literature Review
Research Design
Measures & Insturments
Data & Analysis
Support Documents
About Authors
Contact Information

Video Summary of Project

Video of Dissertation Defense

The Big Picture- Click Here to see a short synopsis. 

Project Abstract

This study investigated the implementation and effects of a school-level leadership model intended to institutionalize quality principal-teacher interactions into the culture of a high school. The leadership model for the study was operationalized by incorporating four new principal-teacher interactions. Over a two year period, the principals (one head principal and three assistant principals) introduced individual conferencing (one hour principal-teacher meetings in the summer), snapshots (frequent short visits to teacher classrooms), data reviews (facilitating frequent teacher analysis of classroom grade distributions and discipline reports), and teacher self-assessments using a rubric-based document to aid teachers in self-reflection on their instructional practices. The purposes of this study were to document the implementation of the principal-teacher interactions; to analyze changes in instructional practices; to analyze any effects changes in instructional practices had on student performance (operationalized as classroom grade performance and discipline related behavior); and to analyze the frequency and focus of teacher conversations.

As a result the four principal-teacher interactions introduced in this study, teacher instructional practices improved, student performance increased, and the frequency and focus of some teacher conversations changed. Results from the analysis of teacher instructional practices showed that those practices improved, but to varying degrees among different groups of teachers (high, medium, and low performing). Results from the analysis of student performance (grades and discipline) demonstrated greater improvement than would be predicted had the treatment not occurred. Data analyzes further suggested that improvement in classroom grade distributions and discipline referrals were affected both by a change in the quality of teacher instructional practices and increased principal visibility. Survey data indicated that the frequency and focus of some teacher conversations changed, but did not indicate that the frequency and focus of principal-teacher conversations or teacher-student conversations changed during the course of the study.





Final Dissertation--Click Here to download full dissertation in its most final/published form

Full Proposal --Click Here to down load full proposal in its most recent draft.

ASCD Presentation --Click Here to download ASCD PowerPoint presentation held in Orlando Florida March 14, 2009

KPA Presentation --Click Here to download KPA PowerPoint presentation held in Louisville KY June 15, 2010

Research Questions

  1. How will the treatment of principal-teacher interactions affect teachers’ instructional practices?

  2. How will changes in teachers’ instructional practices, initiated by the set of principal-teacher interactions, affect student performance?

  3. How will changes in principal-teacher interactions affect the frequency and focus of teacher conversations with principals, students, and other teachers?

Significance of the Study

            The research base indicates that improving instructional practices is essential to increasing student performance within a school (e.g. Cushman & Delpit, 2003; Felner, Kasak, Mulhall, & Flowers, 1997; Fullan, 2005a; Haycock, 1998; O'Hanlon & Mortensen, 1980). Implementing a few specific changes to principals’ behavior may enable principals to function more effectively as instructional leaders and improve teacher instructional practices. In this study, improved instructional practices were hypothesized to increase student performance and to improve the frequency and focus of teacher conversations.

            This study’s basic structure for enhancing principal instructional leadership behavior included the addition of four specific principal-teacher interactions (one-on-one summer meetings with teachers, frequent classroom visits, data reviews, and teacher self-assessments) and can be implemented without the use of extra money, time, or personnel (all of which are difficult to reallocate within a school). These four principal-teacher interactions comprised the treatment for this study. Other goals of this study included situating the treatment within the boundaries of typical practice and contributing evidence useful to other principals in schools who may choose to implement similar principal-teacher interactions.


Related Sites

Time Line

  • Research & Development-Spring & Summer 2007
  • Pilot-2007-2008 Academic Year
  • Full implementation-2008-2009
  • Completion of 1st Data Set-Summer 2009
  • Official completion of Research Proposal-January 2010
  • Research complete and published-Summer 2010

Home | Dissertation Defense | Introduction | Significant Quotes | Context | Origin of Study | Conceptual Framework | Literature Review | Research Design | Measures & Insturments | Treatments | Data & Analysis | Support Documents | Results | Discussion | About Authors | Contact Information

 This research project is sponsored by the University of Louisville, The Kenton County School District, & the head research (Kim Banta/Brennon Sapp)
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Last updated: 07/09/10.