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Collective Efficacy and Instructional Leadership: A Cross-sectional Study of Teachers' Perceptions

ProQuest Dissertations and Theses, 2011
Dissertation
Author: Thomas J Vari
Abstract:
Collective teacher efficacy is a social construct in schools defined as teachers' sense of group effectiveness. This is a powerful construct whereby teachers' perceptions are a driving force for school culture and student achievement. This cross-sectional study used a quantitative approach to examine teachers' collective efficacy as it relates to their perceptions of supervisory practices. Correlational and predictive analyses were performed to analyze the degree of the relationship between collective efficacy and supervisory practices. Additionally, this study examined teachers' perceptions of strong instructional leadership as it relates to the instructional leadership strategies used by supervisors in 14 schools in one school district. The purpose of this study was to make clear statements for school leaders in regard to the strategies that are associated with teachers' perceptions of collective efficacy and teachers' perceptions of strong instructional leadership. The strategies studied for this report were using walkthroughs, using the clinical supervisory model, maintaining professional learning communities, and creating an overall environment to support teachers.

Table of Contents

D edication

................................ ................................ ................................ ................

iv

Acknowledgments

................................ ................................ ................................ .....

v

Abstract

................................ ................................ ................................ ...................

vii

Chapter I -

Introduc tion

................................ ................................ .............................

1

Preface

................................ ................................ ................................ ...............

1

Statement of the Problem

................................ ................................ ...................

7

Purpose of the

Study

................................ ................................ ........................

10

Need for Study

................................ ................................ ................................ .

11

Research Questions

................................ ................................ ..........................

13

Definition of Terms

................................ ................................ .........................

1 4

Chapter II –

Review of Literature

................................ ................................ ............

19

Introduction

................................ ................................ ................................ .....

19

Organization of the Literature Review ................................ ..............................

20

Inclusion Criteria

................................ ................................ .............................

21

School Leadership and the Principals’ Role

................................ .....................

24

Behavioral Management By Walking Around

................................ ..................

24

Defining Walkthroughs: From BMBWA to the Classroom ...............................

25

Walkthroughs and Feedback

................................ ................................ ............

28

Professional Learning Communities in Schools

................................ ................

35

Collective Efficacy

................................ ................................ ..........................

36

Chapter III –

Methodology

................................ ................................ ......................

41

Design

................................ ................................ ................................ .............

41

ix

Participants

................................ ................................ ................................ ......

44

Instruments

................................ ................................ ................................ ......

45

Measurement reliability and validity

................................ ................................

46

Data Collection Procedures

................................ ................................ ..............

50

Data Analysis ................................ ................................ ................................ ...

51

Ethical Issues

................................ ................................ ................................ ...

54

Chapter IV -

Results

................................ ................................ ................................

55

Introduction

................................ ................................ ................................ .....

55

Survey Respondents

................................ ................................ .........................

56

Direct Supe rvisor Items

................................ ................................ ...................

61

Collective Efficacy and Other Collaboration Items

................................ ...........

62

Perceived Self - efficacy and Other Individual Items

................................ ..........

65

Teacher Perceived Collective and Self - efficacy Scales

................................ .....

66

Use of Instructional Leadership Strategies and Teachers’ Perceptions of Collective Efficacy

................................ ................................ ..........................

68

Predicting Collective Efficacy

................................ ................................ ..........

71

Use of Instructional Leadership Strategies and Teachers’ Perceptions of Strong Instructional Leadership

................................ ................................ ...................

75

Predicting Strong Instructional Leadership

................................ .......................

81

Other Findings

................................ ................................ ................................ .

84

Conclusion

................................ ................................ ................................ .......

85

Chapter V -

Discussion

................................ ................................ ............................

87

Introduction

................................ ................................ ................................ .....

87

x

Summary of Research Findings

................................ ................................ ........

87

Discussion of the Results

................................ ................................ .................

89

Limitations of the Study

................................ ................................ .................

105

Conclusion

................................ ................................ ................................ .....

107

References

................................ ................................ ................................ .............

109

Appendix A

................................ ................................ ................................ ...........

117

Appendix B

................................ ................................ ................................ ...........

120

Appendix C

................................ ................................ ................................ ...........

121

Appendix D

................................ ................................ ................................ ...........

122

xi

List of Tables

Table 1. Correlations between Items on the Collective Efficacy Scale

......................

48

Table 2. Number of Respondents Per School and Level

................................ ............

50

Table 3. Number of Respondents Per School and Level

................................ ............

57

Table 4. Experience Distribution Comparison Sample to Population

.......................

58

Table 5. District Percentage Male/Female vs. Sample Male/Female

........................

59

Table 6. Mean Comparisons for Teachers’ Perceptions of Collective Efficacy (CE) and Self - efficacy (SE) by Grade Level Taught

................................ ..........................

60

Table 7. Teachers’ Perceptions of Their Direct Supervisors

................................ ....

62

Table 8. Teachers’ Perceptions of Collective Efficacy and Other Group Behaviors

64

Table 9. Teachers’ Perceptions of Teacher Self - Efficacy and Individual Items

.........

66

Table 10. Collective Efficacy and Self - efficacy Scale Means

................................ ....

67

Table 11. Correlations between Supervisors Conducting Walkthroughs and Teacher Perceived Collective Efficacy (CE)

................................ ................................ ..........

69

Table 12. Correlations between the Provisions for PLCs and Teachers’ Perceptions of Collective Efficacy (CE)

................................ ................................ ......................

70

Table 13. Correlations between the Variable s

of Teachers’ Perceptions that Supervisors are Supportive and Teachers’ Perceptions of Collective Efficacy (CE)

.

71

Table 14. Coefficients a for Regression Model for Predicting Perceived Collective Efficacy

................................ ................................ ................................ ...................

72

Table 15. Stepwise Regression Analysis to Predict Collective Efficacy .....................

73

Table 16. Correlations between the Variables for Supervisors Cond ucting Walkthroughs and Teachers’ Perceptions that their Supervisor is a Strong Instructional Leader

................................ ................................ ................................

77

Table 17. Correlations between the Variables of S upervisors Maintaining PLCs and Teachers’ Perceptions that the Supervisor is a Strong Instructional L eader

.............

78

xii

Table 18 . Correlations between the Variable s of Teachers’ Perceptions that Supervisors are Supportive and Teachers’ Perceptions Instructional Leadership .....

79

Table 19 . Correlations between Teacher’s Perceptions of the Instructional Leadership Stra tegies used by Supervisors and Teachers’ Perceptions that their Supervisors are Strong Instructional Leaders

................................ ..........................

80

Table 20. Coefficients a for Regression Model to Predict Strong Instructional Leadership

................................ ................................ ................................ ...............

82

Table 21. Stepwis e Regression Analysis to Predict Teachers Perceptions of Strong Instructional Leadership

................................ ................................ ..........................

83

Table 22. Relationship between Collective Efficacy and Self - efficacy .......................

85

Table 23. Pearson’s Product - moment Correlation Coefficie nts for SE Scaled Items

93

Table 24. Perceptions of the use of PLCs, of Collective Efficacy, and of Self - efficacy

................................ ................................ ................................ ..............................

102

xiii

List of Figures

Figure 1 .

Instructional Leadership Model

................................ ................................

98

Figure 2 .

Flow of the Relationship between Teachers’ Perceptions of their use ofPLCs as an Individual and CE vs. Perceptions as a Member of a Collaborative

Group and CE

................................ ................................ ................................ ........

103

1

C hapter

I -

Introduction

Preface

The role of school principal is recognized as one of the most vital and essential jobs in education (Fullan, 2010; Marzano, McNaulty, & Waters, 2005; Neil,

Carlisle, Knipe, & McEwen, 2001; Oluremi, 2008; Sweeney, 2001). In a meta - analysis, Marzano et al. (2005) found an average effect size of .25 from 69 studies examining the impact school leadership has on student achievement. As critical as the principal’s

role may be, it has evolved over the last fifty to sixty years (DiPaola & Walther - Thomas, 2003; Lashway, 2002). Prior to the 1970s, the principal’s primary roles were those of disciplinarian and building manager, but the role began to change in the mid - 19 70s with a shift toward instructional leadership (DiPaola & Walther - Thomas, 2003; Lashway, 2002). Weber (1971) and Edmonds (1979) discovered a relationship between the principal’s role and student success, even among low socioeconomic schools. Edmonds’ stu dy found that schools with ―strong administrative leadership‖ had higher achieving students (1979, p. 22). ―In comparison to teachers at lower - achieving schools, teachers at higher achieving schools report that their principals provide them with a signific antly greater amount of support‖ (Edmonds, 1979, p. 17). Informative studies, like that of Weber (1971) and Edmonds (1979), emphasized that principals can affect school culture and student learning. These studies are among other important works which chang ed the principals’ roles for the future (Sweeney, 2001).

2

In the 1980s, as the principal’s role began to include instructional leadership in addition to the management responsibilities of the job (Howell, 1981), the focus was still ―principal centered‖ (L ashway, 2002, p. 3). In the 1990s, the instructional leadership role in schools expanded. Peterson and Deal (1998) found that principals are the catalyst for change when it comes to great instruction, even turning poor performing schools into positive envi ronments for learning. Peterson and Deal (1998) posit that effective principals focus on strategies for instruction

and assessment. Marzano et al. (2005) found that school leadership has a statistically significant effect on student achievement. This resea rch concluded that school leaders, when focused on instruction, can increase students’ standardized test scores by an average of one standard deviation from the mean. Fullan (2010) noted that the principal must also ―participate as a learner‖ in this instr uctionally supportive role (p. 14). Fullan pointed out that this supportive role is the principal’s moral purpose, which is to demonstrate for

even the most reluctant teachers that all students can learn.

Blasé and Blasé (2000) polled 800 teachers pertai ning to principal qualities that aided improvement of classroom practices. Open - ended survey questions revealed two major themes :

Principals who spent time talking with teachers to encourage reflection about teaching were highly valued by the instructional

staff , and

teachers acknowledged the importance of principals who focused on professional development. In a study of teacher perception and principals’ roles, Oluremi (2008) found ―that there is a significant relationship between Leadership Style [of a sc hool principal] and School Learning Culture‖ (p. 309). This study indicated that school

3

principals, depending on leadership style, have an effect on school environment and student learning. Oluremi’s study posits that a principal’s ―style‖ has much to do w ith his or her effectiveness. ― T ransformational‖ and ―transactional‖ leadership positively affect learning culture while a ―laissez f aire‖ leadership style negatively affects learning culture (Oluremi, 2008). This literature reveals that how a principal fu nctions in his or her role can affect teachers’ attitude about the principal, which should be an important focal point for principals who care to be effective leaders. According to Oluremi’s (2008) findings, when teachers perceive the principal as a leader

of change, as in a principal who supports change initiatives, there was also a perception of a positive learning environment. It is evident that after the 1970s, and increasingly so into the twenty first century, school principals are expected to be manag ers, disciplinarians, school leaders, and

to have an instructional focus.

Added to the list of duties are energizer and moral coach (Fullan, 2010; Marzano et al., 2005). These requirements come with the need for school leaders to be

flexible

with state and

federal

change s

and

to lead change initiatives along the way (Reeves, 2009) .

Because of the number of tasks required of principals, one major problem is finding balance between managing school affairs, such as finance, hiring/firing, management of the building, etc. and providing instructional leadership (Neil et al., 2001). According to Neil

et al. (2001), school principals spend the majority of their time on non - curricular aspects of the job.

Most of the principals’ time is spent on dealing with task s which are regarded as of little value. There is insufficient delegation of such tasks, for a variety of reasons, and, as such,

principals do not have the time available to focus on

4

activities which they say are important for them as school leaders. (Nei l et al., 2001, p. 52)

Miller and Lieberman (1982) speculated that with all that principals are responsible for doing, instructional leadership is not possible, and that many of the principal’s roles are contradictory. Principals do not have the time to do everything that is expected of school leaders (Howell, 1981; Miller & Lieberman, 1982).

Howell (1981) found that principals’ time was allocated 32 percent for ―office responsibilities‖ and 14 percent for ―curriculum‖ work (p. 334). The 14 percent inc luded scheduling and placement of teachers, classroom observation, and supervisory practices. In accordance with these findings, some principals spent hours in the cafeteria and were constantly interrupted with disciplinary issues. Even principals with mul tiple secretaries were ―inundated by secretarial/nonprofessional tasks‖ (Howell, 1981, p. 334). These finding s

are inconsistent with

the 21 leadership responsibilities that Marzano

et al.

(2005) found to have a positive relationship with student achievemen t. Included in the 21 responsibilities are situational awareness; flexibility; discipline ( defined as ―protecting teachers from undue distractions‖ and not

as student discipline); outreach; monitoring and evaluating; culture; order; resources; knowledge of

curriculum, instruction, and assessment; input; change agent; focus; contingent rewards; intellectual stimulation; communication; ideals and beliefs; involvement in curriculum, instruction, and assessment; visibility; optimizer; affirmation; and relations hips (Marzano et al., 2005 , p. 48 ). None of these 21

5

responsibilities include d

performing clerical tasks or attending to student disciplinary issues.

In 2007, Stanford University produced a study on California principals (Fuller, Loeb, Arshan, Chen, & Yi) , which found that ―principals spend considerable time on non - instructional tasks‖ (p. 2). The research suggests that principals want to spend more time on instructional leadership, but cannot find time during school hours due to the many functions of the job (Neil et al., 2001). Neil et al. (2001) concluded that the data collected in the study ―reveal … the need to find ways of facilitating a change of focus from the administrative and managerial levels to a more leadership - oriented approach‖ (p. 52). It i s abundantly clear, in a review of the extant literature, that principals need to

and want to

spend more time on instructional leadership, but their time is limited due to the complexities of the position (Fuller et al. ,

2007; Neil et al. ,

2001). Principal s need time management strategies that permit the assimilation of instructional leadership into the rest of their responsibilities (Maher, 1986). Ultimately, principals are searching for strategies to incr ease time spent on instruction.

The search is evide nt through the amount of literature published on the topic, and has translated to new and developing practices in schools, such as conducting walkthroughs, implementing professional learning communities, increasing feedback to teachers, and using reflectiv e questioning techniques with staff.

One strategy recently employed by instructional leaders is the walkthrough. The walkthrough is simply a quick way for school leaders to observe multiple

6

classrooms without staying to observe an individual classroom fo r very long (Black, 2007; Freedman, 2007;

Ginsberg & Murphy, 2002;

Hopkins, 2008; Skretta, 2008; Ziegler, 2006). Many advocates of the walkthrough speculate that it acts as a means for principals to provide individual feedback in the form of praise, questi oning, or suggestions for future lessons (Black, 2007; Downey, 2004; Ginsberg & Murphy, 2002; Hopkins, 2008).

Another strategy used by school leaders is in the development of Professional Learning Communities. DuFour (2004) described P rofessional L earnin g C ommunities (PLCs) as encompassing three key concepts: ensuring that students learn, a culture of collaboration, and a focus on results. The PLC model is a design whereby teachers have time built into their daily schedules to meet and collaborate on stud ent learning (DuFour, 2004; DuFour, DuFour, Eaker, & Many, 2006 ; Hord, 2009 ). ―The professional learning community model is a grand design — a powerful new way of working together that profoundly affects the practices of schooling‖ (DuFour, 2004, p. 11). The

PLC approach is a strategy used by school leaders to infuse collaboration and increase the time spent discussing instruction because ―small group dialogues are more effective in engaging people in the decision - making process‖ than trying to meet the needs

of each individual or by addressing large groups infrequently (DuFour, 2007, p. 42). PLCs are about bringing educators together to make positive changes pertaining to instructional practices to increase student achievement. These changes are made through reviewing data, discussing evidence, and planning lessons accordingly.

7

The bottom line is ―to develop a collective capacity of whole schools and whole school systems to become effective in their day - to - day work‖ (Fullan, 2010, p. 15). Social researchers r efer to this capacity as collective efficacy (Goddard, 2001). Ultimately, it is the principal’s responsibility to create this collective effort at the school level. Through the use of walkthroughs and the implementation of PLC time, many school leaders are

working to find new ways to be instructional leaders while fulfilling the other demands of running a school. The research in the field shows a trend in an effort to limit the variables associated with collective efficacy so that leaders have a better gras p on how to motivate staff and how to effectively lead schools to higher student achievement.

Statement of the Problem

As the literature suggests, school principals’ responsibilities are many and great. One of the challenges is finding time to be an ef fective instructional leader.

Another problem is in finding strategies to help create a strong sense of collective efficacy for teachers. Collective efficacy is a groups’ sense of effectiveness

(Bandura, 1997; Goddard, 2001) . In the case of teachers ,

this would be applied to their ability to help students achieve in a positive classroom atmosphere.

Principals have to make choices about instructional leadership strategies, which to employ and to what degree. The problem is that it is unknown if instructional

leadership

strategies — such as using

8

the clinical supervisory model , 1

conducting walkthroughs, maintaining PLCs, and creating an overall environment to support teachers — are related to teacher perceived collective efficacy

or teachers’ perceptions of strong

instructional leadership . Take for example the use of walkthroughs: the problem with the walkthrough is that it has not been studied to the extent needed to draw conclusions about the impact of its usage in schools. In fact, the search for empirical resea rch on walkthroughs, revealed insufficient literature exists on how teachers’ view the use and value of walkthroughs and/or their influence on schools, school culture, and instructional practices. One major flaw in the literature is that very little focus is given to teachers’ perceptions at all. Most of the literature pertaining to the topic of walkthroughs is written by and for administrators without consideration of the classroom teacher. An example is Classroom

Walkthroughs: To Improve Teaching and Lear ning

( Edwards, Kachur , & Stout , 2010). This book is used to help administrators implement the practice of walkthroughs; yet only nine pages are dedicated to ―involving teachers‖ in the process (p. 41). This particular book is written by an educational cons ultant, a professor, and a retired administrator. This publication is only one example of the problem with the research on walkthroughs, but

a lack of teachers’ perceptions on walkthroughs

stands thematic in the literature. Not enough has been published th at considers teachers’ perceptions when examining the use of walkthroughs or any other strategy employed by school leaders to increase collective efficacy in schools. In other words, it is unknown whether or not walkthroughs have a relationship with

1

The Clinical Supervisory Model is the official observation and evaluation method used in schools. In this case it is called DPAS II, but each district in each state has some type of formal evaluation tool.

9

collec tive efficacy in schools. Marzano et al. (2005) studied the concept of ―collective efficacy, which is group members’ shared perception or belief that they can dramatically enhance the effectiveness of an organization‖ (p. 99). The problem with the walkthro ugh is that its relationship to collective efficacy has not been considered. Instructional staff’s view of the walkthrough should be studied to see what type of relationship it has to collective efficacy. Because collective efficacy has a positive relation ship with student achievement (Marzano et al., 2005), it stands to reason that the walkthrough should be studied to see if it has a positive relationship with collective efficacy.

The thrust of the available literature is to guide instructional leaders on

how they can improve what they

are doing, but very little of the literature actually tells leaders how to support teachers with the use of walkthroughs, or how the walkthrough with or without feedback may or may not be associated with a whole school’s sha red belief about how best to teach students so all reach their optimal level of learning. Because research in regard to teachers’ perceptions of the walkthrough is lacking, it is not clear whether or not the walkthrough can be associated positively or nega tively with teacher self - efficacy, reflective practices, or school culture — all aspects of a greater belief that a school can make a difference in student achievement and other aspects of students’ lives. Thus, the degree to which walkthroughs have an impac t on collective efficacy and, in return, have an impact student achievement needs study.

10

Furthermore, little research exists on the relationship that professional learning communities have on collective efficacy. The available literature discusses the imp lementation of learning communities as an effective means of bringing together teachers and teacher leaders to discuss instructional improvements

(DuFour, 2004 ; Hord, 2009 )

and some literature even demonstrates the positive impact of PLCs on student achiev ement

(Carpenter, 2008) , but no evidence was found for this report to connect these learning communities to a sense of collective efficacy in schools. As described in the literature, teachers’ perceptions of the school leader are important in determining s chool culture, but the literature does not connect teachers’ perceptions of the strategies used by school leaders

to collective efficacy or to their perceptions of strong instructional leadership . Thus, more study is needed in regard to whether or not a re lationship exists between professional learning communities and collective efficacy. Additionally, the research maintains that leaders should provide quality feedback for teachers and should support teachers in their efforts to work with students. Yet, it is unknown whether or not, or to what degree, types of feedback mechanisms, quality of feedback, and supportive teaching environments have relationships to teachers’ perceptions of collective efficacy.

Purpose of the Study

Whether or not school level i nstructional leadership practices — including using the clinical supervisory model, conducting walkthroughs, maintaining PLCs, and creating an overall environment to support teachers — have a relationship to

11

teachers’ sense of collective efficacy is unknown. T he research undertaken by this study investigates the degree to which current principal instructional leadership practices are associated with teachers’ perceptions of collective efficacy

and teachers’ sense of their supervisors’ strong instructional leade rship . The study explores teachers’ perceptions of leadership practices — such as using the clinical supervisory model, conducting walkthroughs, maintaining PLCs, and creating an overall environment to support teachers and how these leadership practices impa ct teachers’ perceptions of collective efficacy. The primary objective is to make clear statements about principals’ leadership practices, teachers’ perceptions of school leaders, and connections of both to perceived collective efficacy. The literature rev iewed for this study suggested that principals need strategies as instructional leaders, given the number of principal responsibilities and time constraints on day - to - day operations. This study looks at instructional leadership strategies in relation to co llective efficacy to provide principals with answers about which strategies are most effective in regard to predicting perceived collective teacher efficacy

and which strategies may predict teachers’ perception of strong leadership for instruction .

Need f or Study

T he use of walkthroughs

and other instructional leadership strategies have

permeated education and are touted as

time - saving instructional leadership practice s

that improve teaching and learning (Downey, 2004; Edwards

et al. , 2010 ). But very litt le of the research on walkthroughs has been dedicated to teacher perception and

12

whole school shared belief. There is a need for the addition of teachers’ insights into the use of walkthroughs to append to the existing literature on the subject and to exami ne the variables associate d

with conducting walkthroughs to see if they relate to teacher perceived collective efficacy

or teachers’ sense of strong instructional leadership . This is because collective - efficacy is positively correlated to student achieveme nt (Marzano et al., 2005) ,

but research has not yet been conducted on the use of walkthroughs to determine its association with student achievement. This study assumes that walkthroughs, PLCs, and feedback to teachers have no significant direct effect on s tudent achievement ,

but may or may not have an indirect effect on student achievement through their influence on teachers’ perceived self - efficacy and collective efficacy. In fact, using these practices without considering their effects on teachers’ percep tions of the school and supervisor can be detrimental to the culture of a school. As it pertains to walkthroughs, cases have been documented where teachers have sought their union leaders to help set boundaries for the use of walkthroughs (Ziegler, 2006). This is contradictory to what some literature says about using walkthroughs as an instructional leadership strategy. It is a clear contradiction that walkthroughs are advertised as a strategy for administrators to help teachers with instruction while the l iterature shows that teachers have fought against administrators using walkthroughs (Ziegler, 2006). This study of teacher perceptions as correlated with principals’ instructional leadership practices is needed to provide clarity on the topic of creating a

Full document contains 139 pages
Abstract: Collective teacher efficacy is a social construct in schools defined as teachers' sense of group effectiveness. This is a powerful construct whereby teachers' perceptions are a driving force for school culture and student achievement. This cross-sectional study used a quantitative approach to examine teachers' collective efficacy as it relates to their perceptions of supervisory practices. Correlational and predictive analyses were performed to analyze the degree of the relationship between collective efficacy and supervisory practices. Additionally, this study examined teachers' perceptions of strong instructional leadership as it relates to the instructional leadership strategies used by supervisors in 14 schools in one school district. The purpose of this study was to make clear statements for school leaders in regard to the strategies that are associated with teachers' perceptions of collective efficacy and teachers' perceptions of strong instructional leadership. The strategies studied for this report were using walkthroughs, using the clinical supervisory model, maintaining professional learning communities, and creating an overall environment to support teachers.