The relationship between teacher efficacy and principal leadership behaviors and teacher background variables in elementary schools

Date of Completion

January 2000


Education, Administration|Education, Elementary




Teachers' sense of efficacy has been related to teacher performance and student achievement. Teachers who have a strong sense of efficacy will demonstrate greater effort, persist longer in working with students who have problems, and have greater success in reform initiatives. Principal leadership behaviors and teacher background variables have been found to have a relationship with teachers' sense of efficacy; however, the research on the relationship has been limited especially at the elementary level. This study examined the relationship between teachers' perceptions of their principals' leadership behaviors and their sense of efficacy. It also examined the relationship between teachers' sense of efficacy, both general and personal teaching efficacy, and teacher background variables of gender, years of experience, and educational level. It also examined qualitatively how principals in elementary schools impact teachers' sense of efficacy. ^ In phase one of the study, teachers (235) from ten elementary schools in ERG B were surveyed using the Nature of Leadership Survey by Leithwood (1997) and the Teacher Efficacy Survey by Gibson and Dembo (1984). The results of the survey indicated that individualized support correlated with general teaching efficacy. One-way analyses of variances indicated a significant difference between gender and general teaching efficacy. Multiple regression analyses indicated that 11 percent of the variability of general teaching efficacy can be explained by individualized support, fosters vision and goals, and collaborative decision making when controlling for the background variables of teachers. ^ Phase two of the study was conducted with follow-up interviews in four elementary schools. The follow-up interview data indicated that teachers' sense of efficacy was enhanced by behaviors of the principal that could be characterized as individualized support, both personal and professional. Personal support can be described as the principal fostering relationships of trust and mutual respect. Behaviors that could be characterized as professional support were reflective practice, problem solving ability and listening skills. These principal leadership behaviors were described as contributing to teachers' sense of efficacy. ^