Date of Award


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Degree Name

Education, Ed.D.



First Advisor

Jacqueline Marie Waggoner

LC Subjects

Assistant school principals--Canada; Self-efficacy; School administrators--Professional ethics; School administrators--Attitudes; Urban schools


This study sought to understand the perceived levels of managerial, instructional, and moral self-efficacy of assistant principals (N = 101) serving in an urban Albertan school jurisdiction. Levels of self-efficacy (Bandura, 1986) were measured using the Principal Sense of Efficacy Scale (PSES) (Tschannen-Moran & Gareis, 2004). Additionally, the instructional leadership indicators of the Alberta Leader Quality Standard (LQS) (Alberta Education, 2019) were measured for levels of importance and perceived level of proficiency by participants. Finally, assistant principals were asked to indicate if they held aspirations for principalship, provide rationale for their response, and express what professional learning experiences might be necessary to become a principal.

This study contributed to the extant literature pertaining to building and realizing greater levels of self-efficacy in assistant principals, a population which has been chronically underserved and underrepresented in the literature. Existing research has suggested that more time and attention is needed in the domain of instructional leadership which is often overlooked due to the managerial demands of an administrative role that has not been fully defined, appreciated, or supported.

The first phase of this study analyzed the PSES scores across three subscales and found that participants scored highest in efficacy for moral leadership, second highest in instructional, and lowest in managerial. These results were disaggregated by various demographic factors and suggested that females (n = 70) had the highest scores in all subscales compared to males (n = 31). The second phase of the research design asked participants to rate levels of importance and proficiency on the nine

indicators inherent to the LQS instructional leadership domain. In both importance and proficiency, it was males who scored higher than females. A very strong correlation of r =.93 was found between the level of importance and level of proficiency across all participants. Relationships between the PSES instructional subscale and the LQS indicators revealed a stronger relationship for females r =.48 than males (r =.40).

Finally, 33% of participants indicated aspirations to pursue principalship whereas 21% did not and the remainder were undecided. Ongoing long-term mentorship, more mastery learning experiences in instructional leadership and leading the operations of a learning community were among the top responses from the participants as to what is needed to further their professional development.

This descriptive study sought to understand the landscape of assistant principals in an urban setting and how their self-efficacy scores and interaction with leadership standards (instructional leadership) might provide the school jurisdiction with insights on how to enhance existing assistant principal leadership programming.


Copyright for this work is retained by the author.