Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Morale for principals: Does mentoring make a difference?
by Felicello, Stacia Patterson, Ph.D., State University of New York at Albany, 2014, 121; 3620214
Abstract (Summary)

The current demands placed on administrators, specifically principals, have become progressively more complex due to litigation, pressure from parents, societal changes, internal workplace expectations, and more than ever, mandates levied from state and federal government. Support through mentorship may be one means to help administrators meet the demands. This study examines the extent, to which mentorship leads to increased morale and perceptions of autonomy, which the literature has shown are important attributes of effective school leaders. The conceptual basis for the focus on morale and autonomy derives from `sponsored mobility', a notion that leaders/managers follow a path into effective leadership that relies on a supportive and trusting relationship with experienced peers. This can be contrasted with `contest mobility', an approach that implies leaders' transition into effective leadership through competition, trial and error (Turner 1960). This study, then, searches for evidence of the associations between mentorship (sponsored mobility) and self-reports of higher morale and autonomy. Sponsored mobility, in some measure, has substantial impact on the overall school culture. Trusting and supportive relationships with experienced practitioners may well guide emerging school leaders in a more thorough manner than learning through trial and error in a competitive (contest mobility) phase of practice. This single study draws on two sources of evidence: responses to the O'Connell et al. (2005) survey, and guided discussion in focus groups of practicing school leaders in 2013. The study investigated the relationship between mentoring and administrator morale and autonomy through a secondary analysis of an earlier study combined with a focus group of currently practicing administrators. This study asked two main questions: 1. Is there a difference between the morale levels of mentored and non- mentored administrators? 2. Is there a difference between mentored and non-mentored administrators in their feelings of autonomy in their work? Of the study's findings, three are of interest. First, of those surveyed in 2005, a higher proportion of female school leaders than male school leaders reported having a mentor. Further, of those surveyed in 2005 who had mentors, female school leaders were more likely than male school leaders to report that the mentor significantly influenced the decision to become a principal. The latter finding was not borne out in focus groups, which differed in point in time (2013) from the population of school leaders surveyed in 2005. Focus group discussions revealed a feeling among practicing principals that mentors do have the effect of increasing morale and a sense of job autonomy. Third, focus group discussion uncovered social emotional needs as a possible distinguishable feature of the transition into effective leadership. Here, supported social emotional needs might join increased morale and a greater sense of autonomy as conditions for a successful, effective leader. Given the high turnover rate in K-12 administrative personnel, this study's findings helped elucidate a way to alleviate such swings. The findings contributed to what we know about the influence of mentoring on job morale and autonomy thus helped to inform policy, practice and perhaps will influence the design of preparatory programs for school administrators.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Meyer, Heinz-Dieter, Wagner, Alan P.
Commitee: O'Connell, Raymond W.
School: State University of New York at Albany
Department: Educational Administration and Policy Studies
School Location: United States -- New York
Source: DAI-A 75/08(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: School administration
Keywords: Administrators, Mentoring, Morale, Principals
Publication Number: 3620214
ISBN: 978-1-303-89957-7
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