First Advisor

Jerry W. Lansdowne

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Urban Studies


Urban Studies and Planning




School administration, Substitute teachers



Physical Description

3, vi, 129 leaves 28 cm.


This research is an exploratory study of role conflict and role ambiguity and their relationships to effectiveness in the substitute teaching services. In many public school systems, large numbers of substitute teachers are assigned to a classroom on a daily basis when the regular teacher is absent. The assignment is usually done through a central administrative office. Substitutes are assigned with very short notice; and since their assignment is based on availability, they may be asked to teach a subject outside their certified field. In addition, the lesson plans left for the substitutes by regular teachers may be incomplete or too complex. These situations prevent the school district's goal of instructional continuity from materializing. Thus, some studies have shown substitute teachers to be ineffective in the classroom because they were unable to effect the continuity principle. These studies, however, do not show the relationship between role clarity and effectiveness. This research uses role theory as a framework in which to examine the performance of substitute teachers. The literature suggests that role conflict/ambiguity may be related to certain personal and behavioral outcomes. Conceptual models have also shown other indirect factors that may influence the final performance outcome. The primary question of this research was what needs to be done to improve the substitute teaching services. Specific questions include: (1) To what extent, if any, is there an inter-sender role conflict? Do regular teachers and administrators have a common view regarding the role of the substitute teacher? (2) According to administrators, regular teachers, and substitute teachers, is there role ambiguity regarding the work of substitute teachers? (3) According to administrators, regular teachers and substitute teachers, how effective are substitute teachers at specified tasks? Hypotheses were also tested to determine the relationship between role ambiguity and effectiveness, and the relationship between the socio-economic status of the work-place and the perceived performance. Data on the perceived role, and effectiveness of substitute teachers were collected by random sampling from three groups of educators in two socio-economic areas in the city. ANOVA was used to compare role ambiguity and role conflict. A constructed effectiveness scale gave a reliability coefficient alpha of .82. Pearson correlations were also used to test hypotheses. The results show a negative relationship between role ambiguity and substitute teacher effectiveness. However, there was no role conflict among the three groups of educators tested, nor did the socio-econanic status of the work-place make any difference in their perception of the substitute teaching services.


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Portland State University. School of Urban and Public Affairs.

Persistent Identifier