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Title:The Principal as a Boundary Role Person: Career Mobility and Gender in Relation to Role Behaviors
Author(s):Weber, Dorothy M.
Department / Program:Education
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Education, Administration
Abstract:Building principals perform a variety of tasks which include relating to many publics. In this study staff and students within a school were seen to comprise one group of publics deemed internal; other administrators, parents, and community members were external publics. The principal, then, was defined as a boundary role person (BRP) whose administrative behaviors were classified as internal or external depending upon the public to which they were related.
The purpose of the study was to examine the gender and career mobility patterns of principals in relation to time actually spent (the real) and time desired (the ideal) for specific role behaviors. Sex and career mobility patterns of principals were independent variables; real and ideal amounts of time spent on administrative role behaviors were dependent variables.
In order to examine the relationships of the variables, hypotheses were posited that predicted that there would be no relationship between the sex of principals and time spent on role behaviors in both the real and the ideal frameworks; no relationship between the career mobility patterns of principals and time spent on role behaviors in both the real and the ideal frameworks; and no interaction between sex and career mobility patterns of principals and time spent on role behaviors in both the real and the ideal frameworks.
In May, 1980, surveys were sent to a random sample of 200 female and 200 male building principals throughout the state of Illinois. Of the 216 returned surveys, 80 female surveys and 87 male surveys were acceptable for statistical purposes.
Data were generated from three sections of the questionnaire: demographic information, mobility indicators, and behavior orientation. The demographic data indicated that most of the respondents were principals who were married, between the ages of 39-53, and administered a K-8 building. They expected to be holding this same position a few years from now and perceived their autonomy in this position to be at a moderately high or high level. There was little expressed desire toward acquiring a superintendency.
The mobility data were intended to classify principals into one of the Carlson (1972) categories (career-bound, place-bound) or the Presthus (1962) categories (upward-mobile, indifferent, ambivalent). The measures, however, were found to be weak when applied to the principalship. The Carlson typifications were utilized but amended to include a group who represented administrators engaged in lateral career movement and labeled "mixed".
The Carlson career patterns were tested against mean time spent per week and mean time desired for spending per week for total behaviors (internal + external), for internal behaviors, and for external behaviors. Significance was suggested in the real framework in relation to time spent on internal behaviors and in the ideal framework concerning time desired for external behaviors. However, the suggested significance is to be interpreted carefully. Not only did the instrument not sort the respondents as well as intended but also there was a relationship between gender and mobility in the real framework.
Based upon the findings which include a low mobility profile of these respondents, the presence of lateral mobility, and the perceived high autonomy associated with their position, it appears that the principalship today is not a clearly defined role. Research is needed to study more carefully career patterns within the principalship and to determine whether such patterns are specific to sex. Sensitive instruments need also be devised to reflect more accurately this career movement.
Issue Date:1981
Description:110 p.
Thesis (Educat.D.)--University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1981.
Other Identifier(s):(UMI)AAI8203632
Date Available in IDEALS:2014-12-15
Date Deposited:1981

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