First Advisor

Joan Strouse

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) in Educational Leadership: Administration


Educational Leadership and Policy




Elementary school principals



Physical Description

3, ix, 323 leaves 28 cm.


This qualitative study explores how elementary school principals resolve the role conflict between judging the performance of teachers (summative evaluation) and providing nurturing growth activities (formative evaluation or supervision). Related research questions were these: (1) How does the principal spend time in summative versus formative evaluation? (2) What factors create role conflict for the principal? (3) What elements help the principal approach congruence in dealing with both responsibilities? The Delphi technique, a method for structuring a group communication process, was used to collect data from 12 Oregon elementary principals, recommended by district administrators as having expertise in the area of supervision and evaluation. The process included four rounds of questions regarding how they perceived and handled their summative and formative evaluation responsibilities. Data analysis occurred after each round as well as after all rounds were complete. Analysis of narrative items was done by comparing key elements from written responses. Similar responses were synthesized into consensus statements and presented again to respondents for validation or adjustment in the next round of questioning. Analysis of non-narrative responses was done by using a non-statistical database, disaggregating on several factors, including gender, years of experience as a principal, and school size. Although most principals reported little or no role conflict, women principals felt more conflict than men, particularly those who had less than five years of experience in the principalship and who had had other administrative experience in education before becoming a principal. The degree of trust between principal and teacher was ranked first among ten factors identified as affecting role conflict. Strong consensus indicated that four strategies were most effective in addressing both roles: (1) interacting frequently with teachers, (2) building trust relationships, (3) emphasizing the formative, and (4) observing teachers work. The area identified as most important in precluding or lowering role conflict was the use of strong communication skills. The findings have implications for elementary principals, districts, and universities. The insights into the respondents' management of both roles will assist principals and districts in addressing the dual responsibilities. The results will help districts as well as university training programs provide more appropriate pre- and inservice education for principals.


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