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Health practices and self -efficacy of Rhode Island secondary school principals

Rosemary Reilly-Chammat, Johnson & Wales University


The purpose of this research study was to investigate the degree to which health practices of secondary principals affect their self-efficacy to lead school improvement. This topic is pertinent to education leadership research because it supported leadership sustainability necessary to achieve school improvement outcomes. The literature suggested a cyclical relationship between health behaviors and a leader's self-efficacy to lead school improvement efforts (Bandura, 1997; 2005; Gmelch and Chan, 1995; Goleman, 1995; Schwarzer & Fuchs, 1995). Social cognitive theory was the foundation of this self-efficacy research (Bandura, 1986; 1997; and 2005). As applied to this study, the theory and related research suggests that a school principal's sense of self-efficacy to lead school improvement may be influenced by personal health practices including nutrition, physical activity, tobacco use, and general health practices related to stress management (Bandura, 2005). A two-phase sequential transformative mixed-methods correlational research design was used to survey all Rhode Island secondary school principals N=118, on self-efficacy to lead school improvement and health behavior practices. Personal interviews with volunteer respondents n=10, provided depth of understanding to the relationship between principals' health practices and their self-efficacy to lead school improvement. Correlational analysis results showed a significant negative relationship between principals' reports of ease of sticking to plans and ability to maintain a healthy weight (r=-.40, r2=-.16, p<.05, ES=medium/large). A significant positive relationship was found between principals' report of ability to remain calm and belief in the importance of practicing healthful behaviors (r=.32, r2=.10, p<.05, ES=medium). Research results of this study also demonstrated that principals' health practices enhanced their efficacy to lead school improvement, specifically in the areas of maintenance of healthy weight, belief in practicing health behaviors, and stress management. Principals with six or more years of experience tended to respond with higher levels of self-efficacy then principals with less experience in terms of resourcefulness t(37)=-2.00, p=.05; ES=medium/large and the ability to handle various situations t(37)=-3.43, p=.001, ES=large. Individuals who reported satisfaction with their lives tended to report less stress as indicated by sleep quality (r=-.34, r2=.10, p=.03, ES=medium). Recommendations included strategies to legitimize the role of principals' health practices as it relates to self-efficacy to lead school improvement through policies and standards that define the role of educational leaders, educational leadership development and support programs, and public health organizations. The role of communities, families, and the individual principal are also discussed. The results of this study supported the belief that principals' health is a legitimate concern because it enhances principal self-efficacy to lead school improvement which can result in improved student achievement.

Subject Area

Health education

Recommended Citation

Reilly-Chammat, Rosemary, "Health practices and self -efficacy of Rhode Island secondary school principals" (2008). Dissertation & Theses Collection. AAI3315135.