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A case study on principal behaviors cultivating a positive school culture in an elementary school

Nadine Elizabeth Lima, Johnson & Wales University


Lima, Nadine E. (2006). Numerous studies have been conducted on the importance of a positive school culture as it relates to teaching and learning in public schools. Educational experts agree that positive school cultures have principals and staff members who have a unified sense of purpose that includes fundamental norms of collegiality, dedication, and conscientiousness (Barth, 2002; Peterson & Deal, 2001; Stolp, 1994). This study utilized a mixed-methods research design employing a single-case study with action research components to examine an elementary principal's role in formulating a positive school culture. The study is important to the educational field because research exists to substantiate a relationship between a positive school culture and a school's success in academics, along with federal, state, and local mandated educational programs and initiatives (Barth, 2002; Peterson & Deal, 2002). To address this need, the researcher examined the literature on school culture. In addition, data from a survey entitled, the School Culture Audit (SCA), document analyses, and focus groups were triangulated to examine the following research questions: What are teachers' perceptions of specific behaviors of a principal that promote and sustain a positive school culture? What strategies can a school principal use to cultivate a positive school culture? How can the target school use these strategies to promote and sustain a positive school culture? What components of this target school's culture are positive and should be reinforced? What components of this target school's culture are negative and should be changed? Participants for the survey were N=25 teachers. Seventeen surveys were returned (response rate of 68%). A total of n=9 of the teachers volunteered to participate in one focus group. Survey data were analyzed using descriptive statistics. The qualitative data obtained from the document analyses and the focus group were analyzed by generating themes and patterns to describe the findings. Implications derived from this study are clear regarding the role of the school principal and are presented as follows: include teachers in the decision making process, be consistent with policies and procedures, work collaboratively and collegially with teachers to focus on teaching and learning, and communicate with teachers openly and decisively. These behaviors for school leaders have been suggested in the literature and have been reinforced in the findings of this case study.

Subject Area

Educational administration|Elementary education

Recommended Citation

Lima, Nadine Elizabeth, "A case study on principal behaviors cultivating a positive school culture in an elementary school" (2006). Dissertation & Theses Collection. AAI3234451.