The Self-Efficacy Beliefs of Secondary School Principals

  • Author / Creator
    Yates, Mary Maureen
  • ABSTRACT The purpose of my doctoral research was to address the question: “How do secondary school principals understand the relationship between beliefs of self-efficacy and their professional practice?” Bandura’s (1986) social cognitive theory served as the analytical framework with his construct of self-efficacy being the subject of this work. “Perceived self-efficacy refers to beliefs in one’s capabilities to organize and execute the courses of action required to produce given attainments.” (Bandura, 1997, p. 3) Nationally and internationally, the role of the principal has been cited as a critical factor in the improvement of student achievement and system accountability (Leithwood, 2008; Levin, 2010), and according to Bandura (1997), self-efficacy belief – the belief that people have in their ability to produce desired effects by their actions - is the most central and pervasive mechanism of human agency and is central to motivation and action. In Alberta, where there is a well-defined accountability framework, the Principal Quality Practice Guideline (2009) was designed to “be used as a basis for many activities including principal preparation and recruitment, principals’ self-reflection and daily practice, principals’ initial and ongoing professional growth and principal supervision, evaluation and practice review” (Alberta Education, February, 2009, p. 3). This draft document updated and currently titled The Professional Practice Competencies for School Leaders (March 11, 2011) details seven dimensions that are intended to be guidelines of school leader performance. As self-efficacy is related to individuals’ persistence, analytical strategies, effort, aspiration or goal-setting, adaptability, organizational ability and success on tasks they perform, (Bandura, 1986; Gist & Mitchell, 1992 Green & Paglis, 2002; McCormick, 2001; Wood & Bandura, 1989), the value of the self-efficacy construct is one that will be critical as principals meet leadership expectations in Alberta schools as outlined by the Alberta School ii Act (Province of Alberta, 2000). My research assists to further understanding and knowledge of the self-efficacy of principals with particular interest in the areas of management, instructional leadership and moral leadership embodied within the seven leadership dimension of the Professional Practice Competencies for School Leaders (PPCSL). Deepening understanding of the construct of self-efficacy and its relation to principal efforts and skill may serve to create conditions that lend t to improvements in student achievement and growth. Within the Alberta context of high accountability, a principal’s self-efficacy beliefs are of particular interest as a greater understanding of factors leading to effective principals, teams and schools may be illuminated through the study of self-efficacy. Within the case study methodology and employing a purposeful convenience sampling technique, six high school principals were interviewed over a two month period. Face-to-face interviews allowed for in-depth interviewing while ensuring a multiplicity of perspectives The Principal Sense of Efficacy Scale (PSES) created by Tschannen-Moran and Gareis (2004) was the survey tool utilized and basic demographic information was also collected. Data analysis and interpretations of the relationship between principal beliefs of self-efficacy and professional practice resulted in the overarching theme of “relationship” and four major sub-themes: Clarity of Vision; Strong Focus on Student Success; Dedication to Instructional Leadership; and Experience Matters. The results from this study will serve to add to the growing knowledge base with regards to factors that may influence principal self-efficacy and principal effectiveness. Based on research findings, this study concludes with implications and recommendations for theory along with policy and practice directed at institutions that develop teachers, at school systems and at schools, as well as possibilities for further research relative to school and school system leadership development and the importance of the construct of self-efficacy.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    Fall 2015
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Doctor of Philosophy
  • DOI
  • License
    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.
  • Language
  • Institution
    University of Alberta
  • Degree level
  • Department
  • Specialization
    • Educational Administration and Leadership
  • Supervisor / co-supervisor and their department(s)
  • Examining committee members and their departments
    • Grace, Andre (Educational Psychology)
    • Larsen, Denise (Educational Psychology)
    • Shultz, Lynette (Educational Policy Studies)
    • Brien, Ken (Education)
    • Foster, Rosemary (Educational Policy Studies)
    • Newton, Paul (Educational Policy Studies)