2015 Outstanding Ph.D. Dissertation

An Empirical Examination of the Relationships Among Transformational Leadership Behaviors of School Principals, Organizational Context, and Teacher Commitment to Students

By Glenn Thomas Freeman

Abstract

In an effort to improve student learning and outcomes in the United States, education policy makers have focused on developing effective forms of school leadership. Transformational leadership has been widely studied in school contexts and is a popular image of ideal leadership practice in primary and secondary schools. Although there is adequate research in the literature on the relationships between transformational leadership behaviors of school principals and school-level variables, relatively few studies have investigated the relationship between transformational leadership and teacher-level variables, such as teacher commitment to students. Moreover, researchers have called for giving more attention to organizational context as a factor that affects the relationships between leadership behaviors and outcomes. To address these gaps in the literature, the current study examined the empirical relationships among transformational leadership behaviors of school principals and teacher commitment to students, as well as the effects of organizational leadership context on the relationship between these two variables. With a cross-sectional sample of teachers in a western U.S. school district, the current study revealed that only one dimension of transformational school leadership (i.e., holding high performance expectations) had a significant and positive relationship with teachers’ commitment to students’ academic achievement and social well-being. Moreover, the study revealed that collective efficacy fully mediated the relationship between these two variables. The study also found that other dimensions of transformational school leadership (i.e., providing vision and inspiration, modeling behavior, fostering commitment to goals, and providing individual support) were not related to teacher commitment to students. Theoretical and practical implications of these results are presented, and suggestions for future research are discussed.
Keywords: transformational school leadership, organizational trust, collective efficacy, teacher commitment to students

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