Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)






School administration, High school principals, High school principals -- Attitudes, School management and organization, Assistant school principals



Physical Description

ix, 187 leaves 28 cm.


The central problem of the study was to determine the nature of the workday of the urban high school assistant principal. Specific questions guiding the investigation were as follows: (1)What are the workday activities of an assistant principal? (2)How long is this day? (3)How might the pace of the workday be described? (4)With whom does an assistant principal interact? How? Why? (5)To what extent is daily work proactive? Reactive? (6)Do the workdays of the various urban high school assistant principals differ? The investigator, in the nonparticipant observor role, employed five data-collection techniques: field notes; structured interview; review of written materials; and structured observation, employing the framework of Mintzberg (1973), whereby chronology, written communication, and verbal contact records were kept. The sample was composed of five assistant principals, representing a cross-section of administrative functions, in an urban school district on the West coast. Each assistant principal was observed throughout five days and evenings of school-related activities. The worktime of the composite sample was apportioned in the following manner: six percent, telephone calls; 17 percent, desk work; 24 percent, scheduled meetings; 24 percent, unscheduled meetings; and 34 percent, observational/informational tours. The average work week was 42 hours and 33 minutes; the average workday, 8 hours and 31 minutes. The dimensions of brevity, fragmentation, and variety were evident in daily work. In twenty-five days, 1,280 separate activities were undertaken. The average duration per activity was quite short: telephone calls, two minutes; unscheduled meetings, five minutes; desk sessions, nine minutes; tours, 12 minutes; and scheduled meetings, 36 minutes. Seventy-five percent of all activities lasted less than nine minutes. Only one percent exceeded an hour. The assistant principal interacted with many participant groups, with heaviest emphasis on subordinates within the building (64 percent of input mail, 79 percent of output communications; 49 percent of all verbal contacts) and clients, or students and their families (26 percent of all verbal contacts). Fifty-eight percent of all meetings and tours were with one other person. The prime purpose for interactions was to convey, receive, review, or exchange information (66 percent of input mail, 74 percent of contacts, and 79 percent of contact time). The assistant principals initiated 54 percent of their verbal contacts and 46 percent of the number of pieces of mail received. The factors tentatively isolated as related to workday differences were physical facilities, personal style and philosophy of assistant principal, time of year, and assigned functions.


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Portland State University. School of Education.

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