An Analysis of Administrator Attitudes toward Tasks in School Administration

By Rayfield, Robin; Diamantes, Thomas | Journal of Instructional Psychology, September 2004 | Go to article overview

An Analysis of Administrator Attitudes toward Tasks in School Administration


Rayfield, Robin, Diamantes, Thomas, Journal of Instructional Psychology


This study reports attitudes of current school administrators toward routine tasks in an attempt to offer insight into why the job may or may not be considered a wise career choice or even a desirable job. The research question for this study is: What makes the principal's position desirable and what makes this important leadership position less desirable? Researchers on the job of principal have discussed the increasing complex nature of educational leadership. Some have even suggested why the principal's position is one that fewer and fewer teachers seek to fill (Fenwick, 2000; Fenwick & Pierce, 2001). Survey results are reported indicating which tasks were rated positively and negatively by respondents as well as possible explanations for these results.

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There is research that suggests the educational community faces a crisis relative to the limited number of candidates for the position of principal. McAdams (1998) describes a pool of applicants for principal vacancies that continues to shrink. A recent report (Rayfield, 2002) suggests that the job of a principal is complex and difficult, and many duties of the principalship are not identified as positive factors in job satisfaction. In a paper presented at the University Council for Educational Administration annual convention Zellner, Jinkins, Gideon, and Doughty (2002) discuss the difficult nature of recruiting candidates to fill educational leadership vacancies. The notion that the principalship is a position that fewer and fewer educators aspire to is germane to the discussion (Fenwick, 2000; Fenwick & Pierce, 2001). Why would teachers choose not to become principals? Sergiovanni (2001, p. 17) reports on the ever-changing role principals are taking on. The duties of the principalship continue to expand (Portin, Shen, & Williams, 1998). This expansion has created a situation in which principals have to make choices relative to the duties that will consume their time. With a recent emphasis on educational leadership and a reduced emphasis on managerial duties, principal preparation programs are training administrators for the position of instructional leader (ISLLC, 1996). Portin, ct. al. (1998) provide evidence of building level administrators having to make difficult choices between instructional leadership and managerial tasks. What appears to be constant with regards to the principalship is that this role continues to expand (Sergiovanni, 2001, p.17). New responsibilities are added, however, no responsibilities are deleted. Sergiovanni's work on the complex and changing nature of the principalship may be frightening to many educators. The nature of the work a principal is expected to perform may also provide a clue as to why teachers are reluctant to become principals. Jenlink (2002) uses a metaphor of a bricoleur to describe the work of an administrator. That the successful administrator must use the materials available to lead the school might create apprehension in prospective administrators. The idea that administrators must be become "a jack of all trades and a master of all trades" certainly places pressure on the principals.

This study reports attitudes of current school administrators toward routine tasks in an attempt to offer insight into why the job may or may not be considered a wise career choice or even a desirable job. The research question for this study is: What makes the principal's position desirable and what makes this important leadership position less desirable?

The research design was quantitative, using survey research methods to collect data. The procedures included development of a random sample of schools in Ohio. This sample was selected from a list of all secondary schools belonging to the Ohio High School Athletic Association.

The design required development of a survey instrument. This was done with the assistance of a group of administrators. The experiences of this group of principals provided a background for development of survey items. …

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An Analysis of Administrator Attitudes toward Tasks in School Administration
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