The relationships among principal characteristics, school demographic variables, preventive coping resources, and stress...

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Title:
The relationships among principal characteristics, school demographic variables, preventive coping resources, and stressors of public school principals in Florida
Physical Description:
xv, 244 leaves : ; 29 cm.
Language:
English
Creator:
Weber-Sorice, Contance A
Publisher:
University of Florida
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Subjects / Keywords:
Educational Leadership, Policy and Foundations thesis, Ph.D   ( lcsh )
Dissertations, Academic -- Educational Leadership, Policy and Foundations -- UF   ( lcsh )
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bibliography   ( marcgt )
theses   ( marcgt )
non-fiction   ( marcgt )

Notes

Thesis:
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Florida, 2002.
Bibliography:
Includes bibliographical references.
General Note:
Printout.
General Note:
Vita.
Statement of Responsibility:
by Contance A. Weber-Sorice.

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University of Florida
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All applicable rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
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oclc - 65519526
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Table of Contents
    Title Page
        Page i
    Dedication
        Page ii
    Acknowledgement
        Page iii
        Page iv
        Page v
        Page vi
    Table of Contents
        Page vii
        Page viii
        Page ix
        Page x
    List of Tables
        Page xi
        Page xii
    List of Figures
        Page xiii
    Abstract
        Page xiv
        Page xv
    Chapter 1. Introduction
        Page 1
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    Chapter 2. Review of the literature
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    Chapter 3. Methodology
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    Chapter 4. Results and analysis of data
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    Chapter 5. Summary, discussion, conclusions, and recommendations
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    Appendixes A to V
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    References
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    Biographical sketch
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Full Text










THE RELATIONSHIPS AMONG PRINCIPAL CHARACTERISTICS, SCHOOL
DEMOGRAPHIC VARIABLES, PREVENTIVE COPING RESOURCES, AND
STRESSORS OF PUBLIC SCHOOL PRINCIPALS IN FLORIDA















By

CONSTANCE A. WEBER-SORICE


A DISSERTATION PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL
OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT
OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF
DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY

UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA


2002


















This dissertation is dedicated to my husband, sons, parents, and mother-in-law.
May it always symbolize my love of learning and strong beliefs in dedication,
persistence, and hope. In addition, may it serve as a reminder of the value of belief
in oneself and others; the importance of patience; and the strength of love,
support, and encouragement.














ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

This educational dream and journey would not have been entirely possible

without the support and assistance from my family, friends, and committee

members.

First, and foremost, I recognize the unending belief my husband, Rocky,

has had in me. Even before beginning the program, Rocky conveyed his pride and

certainty of my success in whatever endeavors I pursued. In addition, Rocky has

been my best friend, relentless ear, shoulder to cry on, and sense of humor to

guide me over the bumps.

Secondly, my husband and I could not have asked for two better sons.

Rocky III has transitioned from elementary school, to middle school, to high school

during my doctoral studies. His maturity, encouraging questions, reminders of the

study habits I have modeled, gentle accountability for writing, and encouraging

words have kept me on the road to completion. Our youngest son, Chad, has

guided me throughout my studies by reminding me of the real priorities in life. The

innocence in Chad's voice, his smiles, hugs, and artwork have helped me get

through the times when I just did not know.

Being one of seven children, one might think that there would not have been

enough love, time, and encouragement to go around. However, my parents have

always managed to be there for me, to encourage me, to help with the boys, and

to share their sense of pride in me. For my mom and dad's love and support, I am








forever grateful. Along with my mom and dad, I must acknowledge the support,

friendship, and assistance that my sisters have given me. Throughout these six

years they have listened to my stories, even when the stories did not seem to

make sense. In addition, they were never short on telling me how proud they were

of me. Their kind words of encouragement helped keep me going.

At the same time, my mother-in-law has given unselfishly her time,

assistance, and love. She has been there to love my sons when I could not be

there and has encouraged me with her conveyance of pride in me.

My committee members have each contributed to my accomplishments in a

unique way. Dr. Phil Clark, my committee chair, had high expectations for me. He

not only modeled integrity and professionalism throughout my program of studies

but also shared his enthusiasm and pleasure in each of my accomplishments. My

cochair, Dr. Anne Seraphine, sparked my desire to know more. She helped me

keep the thoughts flowing. Her guidance, assistance, words of encouragement,

sense of humor, candidness, and friendship helped make learning fun. For being a

role model, I extend my appreciation to Dr. Jim Doud. When times were tough, he

shined as an example. When I needed someone to help me work through issues,

he listened. And when I needed a shot in the arm, he was honest and gave it to

me. Most of all, I thank Dr. Doud for teaching me the importance of reflecting. I

also wish to thank Dr. Tom Oakland for helping me understand myself even better.

His gentle words of encouragement and praise, as well as unselfish gift of time, did

not go unnoticed. I also thank Dr. Fran Vandiver for keeping me on my toes with

her challenging and insightful questions.








When the bumps in the road arise, we also call upon our friends.

Acknowledgement must be extended to my traveling buddy and colleague,

Mev Waskiewicz. Without her friendship and support both at work and throughout

the doctoral program, the journey would not have been the same, or as much fun.

She was there for me during the meltdowns and she was there for the

celebrations. Most of all, she was there just to listen. Next, a sincere appreciation

is offered to my secretary, Agnes King, for helping protect my time and for

reminding me that it was time to end the work day. She was the caregiver when I

was tired and hungry. Finally, thanks are extended to the former graduates for their

inspiration and confidence.

Acknowledgment must be paid to Superintendent Bill Hall and the principals

in Volusia County. Not only have they been an inspiration to me in their dedication

to our students and staff, but also they have encouraged and assisted me in this

journey by participating in my pilot study and by making themselves available for

interviews and activities. Very special thanks are extended to Marilyn Travis,

principal, for always being there to ask probing questions, for representing

principals with her ideas, for valuing what I had to share, and for encouraging me

in this venture.

Special appreciation is extended to Joyce Dolbier and Barbara Smerage,

my editors. Their expertise and experience were invaluable to me in helping

smooth out the rough edges of my dissertation and in getting the correct format. In

addition, both Joyce and Barbara were most gracious with their schedules, helping

me meet the self-imposed and university deadlines.








Although some might forget, the staff at UF must be acknowledged. From

the personnel in the Registrar's Office, Financial Services, IRB office, to those in

the libraries, departmental staff, and security, I appreciated the friendliness and

assistance I received. Even though UF has thousands of students, I was always

made to feel like I was the first person asking the question and that my needs were

important.

Finally, I thank God for the talents and abilities He has given me. I also

thank Him for keeping me strong, healthy, and safe over the course of my doctoral

program. My prayers for help were heard and answered.














TABLE OF CONTENTS

page

ACKNOW LEDGM ENTS ....................................................................................... iii

LIST OF TABLES ................................................................................................. xi

LIST OF FIGURES ............................................................................................. xiii

ABSTRACT ........................................................................................................ xiv

CHAPTER

1 INTRODUCTION ............................................................................................. 1

Statement of the Problem ................................................................................. 3
Purpose of the Study...................................................................................... 22
Question 1 .................................................................................................. 23
Question 2.................................................................................................. 23
Hypothesis 1 .............................................................................................. 23
Hypothesis 2 ............................................................................................. 23
Hypothesis 3 .............................................................................................. 23
Glossary of Terms.......................................................................................... 24
Significance of the Study................................................................................ 26
Delimitations and Limitations of the Study...................................................... 28
Delimitations .............................................................................................. 28
Limitations.................................................................................................. 28
Organization of the Remainder of the Study .................................................. 29

2 REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE.................................................................... 30

Introduction to Stress and Coping .................................................................. 30
The Concept of Stress ............................................................................... 32
Historical Models of Stress......................................................................... 34
Stress and Coping: Current Perspectives.................................................. 38
Stress, Appraisal, and Coping.................................................................... 40
Coping ....................................................................................................... 46
Coping Resources ..................................................................................... 49
Demands in the Principalship......................................................................... 54
Principals and Stress ................................................................................. 57
Coping in the Principalship......................................................................... 66


vii








3 METHODOLOGY....................................................................................... 70

Mediational Model .......................................................................................... 70
Question 1 .................................................................................................. 72
Analysis of Question 1 ............................................................................... 72
Question 2.................................................................................................. 72
Analysis of Question 2 ............................................................................... 72
Hypothesis 1 .............................................................................................. 73
Analysis of Hypothesis 1 ............................................................................ 73
Hypothesis 2 .............................................................................................. 74
Analysis of Hypothesis 2............................................................................ 74
Hypothesis 3 .............................................................................................. 74
Analysis of Hypothesis 3............................................................................ 74
Participants .................................................................................................... 76
Institutional Review Board Procedure and Approval.................................. 76
Population .................................................................................................. 77
Sample....................................................................................................... 79
Instrumentation .............................................................................................. 87
Introduction ................................................................................................ 87
Principal Characteristics/School Demographic Questionnaire................... 90
Preventive Resources Inventory (PRI)....................................................... 91
Administrative Stress Index (ASI) .............................................................. 95
Reliability of Instruments.......................................................................... 100
Procedures................................................................................................... 101
Pilot Study................................................................................................ 101
Research Study ...................................................................................... 103
Data Analysis ............................................................................................... 105

4 RESULTS AND ANALYSIS OF DATA ......................................................... 111

Introduction .................................................................................................. 111
Question 1 ................................................................................................ 112
Question 2................................................................................................ 112
Hypothesis 1 ............................................................................................ 112
Hypothesis 2 ............................................................................................ 112
Hypothesis 3 ............................................................................................ 112
Analyses and Quantitative Results............................................................... 113
Question 1 ................................................................................................ 113
Analysis.................................................................................................... 113
Question 2................................................................................................ 114
Analysis.................................................................................................... 114
Hypothesis Testing....................................................................................... 120
Hypothesis 1 ............................................................................................ 127
Analysis of Hypothesis 1 .......................................................................... 127
Hypothesis 2 ............................................................................................ 130
Analysis of Hypothesis 2.......................................................................... 130



viii








H ypothesis 3 ............................................................................................ 133
A analysis of Hypothesis 3 ................................................................. ....... .. 133
Q ualitative R results ....................................................................................... 138
S um m ary of R results .......................................................................... ........... 140

5 SUMMARY, DISCUSSION, CONCLUSIONS, AND RECOMMENDATIONS143

Intro d uctio n .................................................................................................. 14 3
Q ue stio n 1 ................................................................................................ 144
Q ue stio n 2 ............................................................................................... 14 4
H ypothesis 1 ............................................................................................ 144
H ypothesis 2 ............................................................................................ 144
H ypothesis 3 ............................................................................................ 144
Summary and Discussion of Results............................................................ 146
Descriptive Data Results.......................................................................... 148
Q uantitative Data Results ........................................................................ 154
C conclusions .................................................................................................. 166
Im p licatio ns .................................................................................................. 17 1
T he o ry ...................................................................................................... 17 1
P ra ctice .................................................................................................... 17 2
Recommendations for Future Research....................................................... 174

APPENDIX

A LETTER REQUESTING PERMISSION TO USE THE ADMINISTRATIVE
ST R E S S IN D EX ........................................................................................... 177

B PERMISSION FOR USAGE OF THE ADMINISTRATIVE STRESS INDEX 179

C LETTER REQUESTING PERMISSION TO USE THE PREVENTIVE
RESOURCES INVENTORY......................................................................... 181

D PERMISSION FOR USAGE OF THE PREVENTIVE RESOURCES
IN V E N T O R Y ................................................................................................ 183

E REQUEST FOR INFORMATION FROM THE FLORIDA DEPARTMENT OF
E D U C A T IO N ................................................................................................ 185

F UFIRB PROTOCOL FOR THE PILOT STUDY OF THE ADMINISTRATIVE
T R E S S IN D EX ............................................................................................. 187

G LETTER OF INFORMED CONSENT FOR THE PILOT STUDY OF THE
ADMINISTRATIVE STRESS INDEX............................................................ 190

H UFIRB APPROVAL OF PROTOCOL FOR THE PILOT STUDY OF THE
ADMINISTRATIVE STRESS INDEX............................................................ 192








I PARTICIPANT QUESTIONNAIRE FOR THE PILOT STUDY OF THE
ADMINISTRATIVE STRESS INDEX............................................................ 194

J ADMINISTRATIVE STRES INDEX-PILOT STUDY...................................... 196

K UFIRB PROTOCOL FOR THE FINAL RESEARCH STUDY........................ 199

L LETTER OF INFORMED CONSENT FOR THE FINAL RESEARCH
S T U D Y ......................................................................................................... 2 0 3

M UFIRB APPROVAL OF PROTOCOL FOR THE FINAL RESEARCH
S T U D Y ......................................................................................................... 2 0 5

N UFIRB APPROVAL TO INCREASE SAMPLE SIZE FOR FINAL
R ES EA RC H ST U DY .................................................................................... 207

O PRINCIPAL CHARACTERISTICS/SCHOOL DEMOGRAPHIC
Q U EST IO N NA IR E........................................................................................ 209

P ADMINISTRATIVE STRESS INDEX............................................................ 212

Q PREVENTIVE RESOURCES INVENTORY................................................. 215

R LETTER TO PRINCIPALS-SECOND MAILING........................................... 219

S GIFT CARD PREFERENCE FORM ............................................................. 221

T RESPONSE CARD FOR PRINCIPAL PARTICIPANTS............................... 223

U OPEN ENDED RESPONSES TO SOURCES OF STRESS ........................ 225

V OPEN ENDED RESPONSES TO PREVENTIVE COPING RESOURCES.. 233

R E FE R E N C E S ................................................................................................. 237

BIO G RA PHICA L SKETCH ............................................................................... 243














LIST OF TABLES


Table page


2-1 Rank and Mean Scores of Top Stressors by Administrative Position
as Reported by Gmelch and Swent (1984)................................................ 60

3-1 Principal Respondents' Characteristics for Pilot Study .............................. 80

3-2 Principal Respndents' Personal Characteristics for Actual Study ..............82

3-3 Principal Respondents' Professional Characteristics for Actual Study.......85

3-4 Principal Respondents' School Demographic Characteristics ................... 88

3-5 Ranks, Mean Scores and Standard Deviations for Individual
Stressors as Reported by Gmelch and Swent (1984)................................ 97

3-6 Reliability Coeffi cients.............................................................................. 101

4-1 Principals' Perceived Stressors as Measured on the Administrative
S tress Index ............................................................................................. 1 15

4-2 Frequencies of Responses for Top Ten Perceived Stressors.................. 118

4-3 Principals' Preventive Coping Resources as Measured on the
Preventive Resources Inventory.............................................................. 121

4-4 Frequencies of Responses for Top Ten Preventive Coping
R eso urces................................................................................................ 12 5

4-5 Descriptive Statistics of Antecedent, Mediating, and Outcome
Variables for Hypotheses 1 and 3............................................................ 129

4-6 Unstandardized Regression Coefficients, Standardized Regression
Coefficients, t-test Statistics, and Squared Semi-Partial Correlations
for H ypothesis 1 ....................................................................................... 13 1








4-7 Descriptive Statistics of Mediating and Outcome Variables for
H ypothesis 2 ............................................................................................ 132

4-8 Unstandardized Regression Coefficients, Standardized Regression
Coefficients, t-test Statistics, and Squared Semi-Partial Correlations
for H ypothesis 2 ....................................................................................... 132

4-9 Unstandardized Regression Coefficients, Standardized Regression
Coefficients, t-test Statistics, and Squared Semi-Partial Correlations
for the First Step of Hypothesis 3............................................................. 135

4-10 Unstandardized Regression Coefficients, Standardized Regression
Coefficients, t-test Statistics, and Squared Semi-Partial Correlations
for the Second Step of Hypothesis 3 ....................................................... 137

5-1 Comparison of Reported Reliability Coefficients for the Preventive
Resources Inventory................................................................................ 165














LIST OF FIGURES


Figure Page

1-1 Hypothesized model of prevention in stress and coping.............................. 20

1-2 Conceptual model of principal characteristics, school demographics,
preventive coping resources, and stress...................................................... 22

3-1 M ediational m odel........................................................................................ 71














Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the Graduate School
of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the
Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy

THE RELATIONSHIPS AMONG PRINCIPAL CHARACTERISTICS, SCHOOL
DEMOGRAPHIC VARIABLES, PREVENTIVE COPING RESOURCES, AND
STRESSORS OF PUBLIC SCHOOL PRINCIPALS IN FLORIDA

By

Constance A. Weber-Sorice

December 2002

Chair: Phillip A. Clark
Cochair: Anne E. Seraphine
Major Department: Educational Leadership, Policy, and Foundations

The purpose of this study was to examine the relationships among principal

characteristics, school demographic variables, and the preventive coping

resources of principals in relation to their level of stress. In addition, the study

explored the extent to which preventive coping resources, functioning as a

mediating variable, accounted for differences in principals' stress levels. A

stratified random sample of public school principals in Florida was drawn.

Stratification was based on school level and district enrollment group (PK-12

membership). The resultant sample of 216 principals was surveyed for this study.

A total of 116 surveys were returned resulting in a response rate of 55%.

Principals' perceived sources of stress were operationalized by their

responses on the Administrative Stress Index developed by Gmelch and Swent.

Principals' preventive coping resources were assessed through self-report








answers on the Preventive Resources Inventory, developed by McCarthy and

Lambert. Principal characteristics and school demographic variables were derived

from responses on a questionnaire designed specifically for this study.

A mediational model guided the development of the questions, hypotheses,

and subsequent analyses for this study. Two research questions and three

hypotheses were formulated to produce quantitative data. In addition, two open-

ended questions were asked to assess other possible sources of stress for

principals and additional ways of preventing stress. A series of regression

analyses were used to examine the relationships between the antecedent,

mediating, and outcome variables.

The results did not support the hypotheses that principal characteristics and

school demographic variables are significantly associated with either principals'

preventive coping resources or principals' stress levels. Results of this study also

did not indicate that preventive coping resources mediate the relationship between

principal characteristics and school demographic variables and principals' stress

levels. However, the results of this study did indicate a significant relationship

between principals' stress levels and their preventive coping resources.

Subsequently, the theoretical and practical implications, as well as the importance

of studying the role of preventive coping resources as it relates to principals'

stressors, continues to be demonstrated.













CHAPTER 1
INTRODUCTION

Advocating for preventive health and stress management, Ivancevich and

Matteson (1980) have pointed out that job-related stress has become critically

important to medical specialists, behavioral scientists, and organization

managers. Although no one can determine precisely the cost of stress-induced

poor health, Ivancevich and Matteson, in the 1980s, noted that an estimated

$18-25 billion was being lost each year through managers' absences,

hospitalizations, or deaths.

The link between high levels of stress and illness has been demonstrated

in both children and adults. For example, Greenberg (1993) submitted that

prolonged levels of stress across periods of time have been associated with

hypertension, strokes, coronary heart disease, ulcers, migraine and tension

headaches, cancer, allergies, asthma, rheumatoid arthritis, and backaches. In

addition, Greenberg reported that prolonged stress arousal has been linked to

difficulties in interpersonal relationships, lowered work performance,

absenteeism, wasted energy, depleted emotions, lowered self-confidence,

increased job tension, and difficulties with clear thinking.

Too much work or frequent frustrations at work also can lead to an

individual's physical and emotional exhaustion or burnout. Although burnout can

be viewed through a series of phases, advanced burnout has individual and

organizational outcomes. Such consequences include decreases in job








satisfaction and involvement, group cohesiveness, sense of humor, and

performance indicators. In addition, burnout has been associated with increases

in physical complaints and emotional symptoms, the incidence of nonpsychotic

psychiatric symptoms, social withdrawal, turnover, self-medication, and medical

insurance costs (Golembiewski, 1996; Greenberg, 1993). As a result of these

outcomes of stress, organizations ultimately experience lost opportunities due to

employees' lowered creativity levels and diminished inclination to take

reasonable risks (Ivancevich & Matteson, 1980).

In light of the negative effects of stress on employees, managers are

becoming more aware of their responsibility for promoting a healthy fit between

the individuals in the organization and the work environment. Ivancevich and

Matteson (1980) have reported that preventive health and stress management

includes any activities that (a) serve to protect individuals from exposure to

stressors; or (b) that enhance the individual's mental and physical capabilities to

resist, or withstand, the onset of these unfavorable situations, events, or

thoughts. As such, organizational attempts toward preventive health

management have been conveyed as positive advancements in the direction of

conserving, utilizing, and developing human resources.

Managers are responsible for a number of major roles in organizations.

They must coordinate, communicate, make decisions, plan and control work

activities, as well as encourage subordinates to perform optimally (Ivancevich

& Matteson, 1980). The demands, roles, and task expectations being placed on

principals today are also expanding. As such, their perceived stressors and








degrees of stress are changing. In 1994, more than 100,000 books, magazines,

and journal articles had been written on the topic of stress (Gmelch & Chan,

1994). However, in education, the literature and research have only periodically

addressed the major sources of stress for school principals. Lesser emphasis

has been placed on research relevant to the coping strategies principals utilize

once they perceive or experience stress and strain. Therefore, research

initiatives should expand to include the identification of current sources of

workplace stress, and strategies for coping once the stress is perceived, as well

as the preventive coping resources principals have in place that will enable them

to prevent or minimize the impact of these stressful situations.

Subsequently, this chapter continues with a statement of the problem, the

purpose of the study, the glossary of terms, the significance of the study, and the

delimitations and limitations of the study.

Statement of the Problem

Gmelch and Chan (1994) have contended that educational leaders in the

twenty-first century will be "faced with more pressure, more aggression, more

change, and more conflict than in any other period in education" (p. 1). Barth

(1990) recognized that principals are facing startling changes in their roles,

dwindling resources, and new challenges to meet federal and state guidelines.

These changes for principals are combined with a lack of explicit knowledge

about the skills needed in order to be effective leaders.

Doud and Keller (1998) observed that significant changes have occurred

in the demands placed on principals since Doud's earlier national study of

principals (1989). In Doud and Keller's survey, more than 50% of the 1,323








respondents noted increased responsibilities in 8 of 11 identified areas. Similarly,

Deal and Peterson (1994) have written that the role of the principal has evolved.

Functions are related to controlling behavior, increasing scores on standardized

tests, categorizing students for vocational tracks, and standardizing procedures

in highly regulated, complex organizations.

As has been noted, principals represent multiple constituencies. Reviews

of the literature show that principals are agents for the state, the local community,

the educational profession, and most importantly the children within their school.

In addition to serving as an advocate for the children within their school, the

principal's responsibilities have included staying abreast of the current laws,

rules, and legislation enacted by the state. Likewise, principals are charged with

the duties of implementing and carrying out the related policies and directives in

order to provide the best education for the children within their school. At the

same time, principals continue to serve the parents who send their children to the

school, ensuring a nurturing, safe instructional environment that meets the needs

of the students. Finally, the principal's responsibilities have also included working

with instructional staff for the promotion and provision of best practices within the

school. Balancing these constituencies is not easy (Starratt, 1995). Relative to

this, Pines and Aronson (1988) have pointed out that "the quality of professional

interactions in human service professions is affected by the number of people for

whom the professional is providing care. As this number increases so does the

cognitive, sensory, and emotional overload of the professional" (p. 188).





5

Relative to the roles of principals, Leithwood, Cousins, and Smith (1990)

have documented the nature of problems principals typically encounter during

the course of a school year. Interviews with 11 elementary school principals and

10 secondary school principals revealed that two-thirds of the principals'

problems centered on the internal workings of the school, its staff and

constituents. Leithwood et al. added that the remaining one-third of the principals'

problems arose from aspects of the internal workings of the school, which

generally did not require their frequent attention. Of significance, the predominant

category of problems for principals related to teachers, with the majority of the

specific teacher problems having the potential for direct impact on instruction.

Following this category were problems encountered with school routines,

students, and parents. Student concerns not only included discipline and

attendance but also incidences of child abuse and the need for counseling on

diploma options.

New demands on school leaders today have resulted from the competing

demands on how schools should function and be organized (Murphy & Louis,

1999). In particular, continued pressure toward national and/or state standards

has resulted in uniform expectations with regard to student performance and

internal school procedures. The public continues to expect accountability and

evidence that educational programs are rendering their intended effects

(Barth, 1990). As evidence of these expectations, the Gallup Organization

reported the following findings from its survey of 1,108 adults regarding the

public's attitudes toward the public schools. Fifty-four percent of the respondents








favored not renewing the contract of the principal if the public school in their

community did not show progress toward meeting state-approved standards for

student learning (Rose & Gallup, 2001). Similarly, in a sample of 1,000 adults,

56% of the respondents surveyed by Rose and Gallup in 2002 again favored the

non-renewal of principals' contracts for failure to meet state-approved standards

for student learning. The public's demand for this accountability and performance

has resulted in a dramatic increase in the emphasis on alternatives to the

traditional public school education, including charter schools, home education,

school choice, and vouchers. Consequently, these growing alternatives have

necessitated an additional role for principals, one that involves marketing public

education in order to secure appropriate financial and psychological support

(Doud & Keller, 1998).

Coupled with the aforementioned demands for uniformity and

accountability, there has simultaneously been the expectation that school

governance and organization be decentralized, with committees of teachers and

parents ultimately determining what should be taught and how the school should

be run. Barth (1990) has added that principals continue to adjust to this shared

authority with school improvement teams, teachers, parents, and students.

Accompanying these opposing pursuits of uniformity and decentralization has

been the challenge for school leaders to provide an educational system that is

market driven and responsive to the demands of the consumers. As principals

have weighed out these competing charges, they have had to deal with what this

means in their role, to the organization of the school, and their ability to adapt to








change (Murphy & Louis, 1999). Relative to these competing obligations, Pines

and Aronson (1988) have found that occupational stress is often related to the

need to feel that work is meaningful and successful. The most stressful aspects

stem from the frustrated hopes and expectations, as well as the obstacles that

prevent individuals from reaching their goals.

Barth (1990) articulated the generalization that the "work life of a principal

is depleting" (p. 66). He emphasized, "The responsibility for the education and

physical safety of hundreds of other people's children for 10 months a year

presents extraordinary personal and professional difficulties, which take their toll

on the effectiveness of school leaders" (p. 65). The number of hours an individual

works has been related to a sense of fatigue, overload, boredom, and stress

level (Pines & Aronson, 1988). Doud and Keller (1998) reported that 89% of the

K-8 principals surveyed in their 1998 study worked longer than the standard

40-hour work week. Although the mean number of hours worked per day was

reported to be 9, 51% of the respondents indicated that they spent 10 or more

hours each day at school. In addition, 66% of the K-8 principal respondents

noted that they spent approximately 8 or fewer additional hours per week in

school-related activities. In all, K-8 principals reported in 1998 that they spent, on

average, 54 hours per week on school-related activities. Doud and Keller noted

that this was an increase from the 51 hours reported in 1988 and the

45 hours reported by K-8 principals in 1978.

Stressors are found in all aspects of being a principal, including the nature

of the work, the school environment, the interactions with the individuals with








whom principals work, and within their own personalities and dispositions.

Varying sources of stress are considered to provoke distinct reactions in different

principals (Gmelch & Chan, 1994). Although individuals may differ in their

responses to stress, burnout is considered to be unavoidable for almost

everyone if uncontrollable and chronic pressures are placed on individuals

without adequate support (Pines & Aronson, 1988).

Whitaker (1995) has claimed that principals are particularly sensitive to

burnout due to the complex nature of their jobs. Burnout negatively impacts

personal and professional lives, as well as interpersonal relationships. In all, work

stress leading to burnout has threatening outcomes not only for an individual's

health but also for negative organizational effects (i.e., decreased job

involvement and productivity, lower morale, increased sick leave, and impaired

decision making) (Golembiewski, 1996).

Whitaker's review of the literature has shown significant relationships

between principal burnout and the isolation inherent in the principal's role, the

amount of time and effort expended in the role, role ambiguity, boundary

spanning, and the organizational structure of the school system. Despite these

relationships, very few studies have been conducted relative to principal burnout.

In her study of 107 principals (representing elementary, middle and high school

levels), Whitaker noted that 19.6% of the respondents scored high in their

emotional exhaustion and 13.1% high in depersonalization. Principals in the

35-44 year age group had significantly higher scores in these areas. Additional

follow-up interviews with principals scoring high in these aforementioned areas








revealed four general themes that contributed to the feelings of emotional

exhaustion and depersonalization. These included (a) increasing demands of the

principalship (i.e., accountability pressures, time management issues, increased

paperwork, and tensions related to restructuring), (b) lack of clarity in roles

relative to site-based management and shared decision making, (c) lack of

recognition (with a perceived need for more intrinsic and extrinsic rewards and

recognition, particularly from the central office), and (d) decreasing autonomy

because of collaborative decision making.

Stress has been specified as the second most frequently cited reason for

principals desiring to leave their position, noted by 52% of the principal

respondents (Barth, 1990). Subsequently, Barth reported that two-thirds of the

nation's 100,000 principals intended to quit or retire by the turn of the century,

with the best principals seeming to be the ones intending to leave. Coinciding

with this, Whitaker (1995) reported in her study of principals that slightly over

26% of the principals indicated that they did not plan to remain in the role until

retirement. Reasons cited for this intent to leave included emotional exhaustion

and depersonalization.

Deal and Peterson (1994) have affirmed that the pressures presented to

today's principals do not show signs of lessening in severity. Yet, the importance

of strong leadership has consistently been reported in the research on effective

and successful schools (DuFour & Eaker, 1992; National Center for Education

Statistics, 2000). Relevant to strong leadership, Bennis and Nanus (1985)

identified the leader's persistence and self-knowledge, willingness to take risks








and accept losses, commitment, consistency and challenge, as well as the

leader's learning as being essential for successful organizations.

Stress has been described as a broad domain that encompasses

"how individuals and organizations adjust to their environments; achieve high

levels of performance and health; and become distressed in various

physiological, medical, behavioral, or psychological ways" (Quick, Quick, Nelson,

& Hurrell, 1997, pp. 2-3). The stress response begins with a demand or stressor,

triggering a series of psychological and physiological activities. These authors

describe this stress response as relating to the "generalized, patterned,

unconscious mobilization of the body's natural energy resources when

confronted with a demand, or stressor" (p. 3).

Within the stress response, there is first a repositioning of the body's

resources to where they are needed in the event of an emergency. This

aforementioned unconscious mobilization is prompted by the release of

catecholamines (primarily adrenaline and noradrenaline) into the bloodstream,

arousing the activation of the sympathetic nervous system and the endocrine or

hormonal systems. The activation of these systems results in the stress response

generally experienced with an elevated heart rate, increased respiration and

perspiration, and a tightening of the large muscle groups throughout the body.

A heightened sense of alertness follows as a result of the reticular activating

system in the ancient brain stem. This alertness amplifies the individual's vision,

hearing, and other sensory processes, enabling the individual to be more aware

of the surroundings. Such responses prepare the individual to fight or to flee,








thus the descriptive fight-or-flight stress response. Next, there is a release of

glucose and fatty acids which sustain the individual. Finally, there is a shutting

down of the body's emergent and restorative processes (i.e., digestion) during

the stress response (Quick et al., 1997).

Such processes are necessary for an individual's long-term general

health, though not considered to be essential during emergencies. In summary,

the mind-body changes that occur during a stress response are intended to lead

to an individual's heightened performance. However, Quick et al. caution that

when the stress response is not attended to, distress occurs.

Early definitions of stress reported throughout the research have been

response- or situation-based. However, from the attention directed to stress in

the mid-1960s, researchers noted that not all events that were perceived to be

stressful actually turned out to be stressful. Similarly, what one individual

perceived to be stressful was not necessarily stressful to others. Likewise, when

an individual was exposed to the same stressor at different times or under

different conditions, his or her reaction to the stressor might have varied

significantly (McGrath, 1970a).

Response-based definitions of stress were characterized by a specified

set of responses, which indicated that the individual or organism was under

stress. McGrath (1970a) contended that there were weaknesses with this

definition. First, it was proposed that many conditions generally not considered to

be stressful (i.e., surprise, passion, exercise) would be classified as stressful

based on the response pattern. Secondly, the same response pattern may have








arisen from completely different stimulus situations, which may or may not have

been interpreted by the individual as being stressful. For instance, an individual's

blood pressure and heart rate increased with both exercise and in frightening

situations. However, the psychological meaning of these two situations was very

different for the individual.

Situation-based definitions of stress, on the other hand, seemed to avoid

the problems associated with response-based definitions of stress because they

involved the presence of certain classes of situations. Once again, researchers

had difficulty identifying what kinds of situations or what properties of these

situations created stress. Of particular interest was how to explain the broad

range of individual differences in response to the same, presumably stressful,

situation (McGrath, 1970a). Stressors were found to be defined individually,

within the context of the individual's personal experiences. Appley and Trumbull

(1984), in particular, recognized that categories of stressors or even the same

stressor at varying times resulted in differing responses within individuals. These

responses varied in their magnitude, duration, orientation and permanence of the

effect. Acting in response to these individual differences and the inability to

generalize about stressors across individuals, settings, and events, researchers

turned their attention to why there were such differences in the responses under

seemingly similar situations.

Current models of stress have maintained that stress is not intrinsic to the

individual or the situation, but rather is a transaction between the two. McGrath

(1970a) proposed that stress was the transaction between the organism and its








environment. He compared the social-psychological concept of stress with that of

an engineer. In the field of engineering, McGrath noted that stress was the

"application of an external force, while the strain it produced was calculated in

terms of the substance to which the force was applied" (p. 14). In regard to

humans, the stress-strain effect was in relationship to the individual and his or

her environment. Stress was not viewed solely as an individual's emotional state,

but rather as his or her type of reaction to environmental events. Environmental

changes would lead to the perception of threat for some individuals; however,

changes in the environment would not necessarily lead to threat.

While the stress-strain relationship could be borrowed from the field of

engineering, there were certain differences between the engineer's use and that

of the social-psychological use. For instance, the engineer had the ability to

calibrate the forces of stress. In addition, the engineer was able to measure the

impact of the environmental stressful forces. Likewise, the engineer merely dealt

with the internal conditions of the object, rather than having the added effect of

the perceptions of threat of the strain on the object.

McGrath (1970b) expanded his early proposition, noting that stress

existed when there was an imbalance between the environmental demands and

the response capability of the individual or organism. Folkman, Lazarus, Dunkel-

Schetter, DeLongis, and Gruen (1986) recognized that the stress process begins

with some sort of demand, which ultimately requires adaptation on the part of the

person. This adaptation process commences with the individual's awareness of

the actual demands. This initial awareness is followed by an appraisal of the








severity and importance of the demand for the individual, or whether he or she

has anything at stake in this encounter. The bidirectional relationship between

the person and the environment is appraised by the person as either taxing or

exceeding his or her resources. Lazarus and Folkman (1984) asserted that

perceived or psychological stress would only be produced by environmental

demands if the individual anticipated his or her inability to cope with the demand

adequately. In contrast, demands were not perceived as stressors or threatening

if the individual perceived him- or herself as being capable to handle the

demands without undue expenditure of resources (whether or not this perception

was true). This imbalance in demand-incapability was viewed as the prerequisite

for psychological stress or the threat of it (McGrath, 1970b).

Sells (1970) also conveyed that stress arose when the individual was

called upon to respond to a situation in which he or she did not have the

adequate response available. This unavailability may have been due to physical

inadequacy, absence of the response in the individual's repertoire of responses,

or lack of training, equipment, or opportunity to prepare. Likewise, stress

occurred when the consequences of this inability to respond appropriately were

particularly important to the individual. The intensity of the stress was also

dependent upon the importance of the individual's involvement and the

individual's assessment of the consequences for being unable to respond

effectively to the situation. Various personality characteristics also helped to

define whether an individual would identify the stressful transaction as having

relevance to his or her well-being, including his or her values, commitments,








goals, and beliefs about himself. Folkman et al. (1986) referred to the individual's

evaluation of the relevance of a situation as primary appraisal.

This primary appraisal is followed by the individual's secondary appraisal.

The latter appraisal pertained to the individual's evaluation of the adequacy of the

resources possessed for coping with the demand. If the individual's resources

seemed adequate for coping with the demand, the demand would be dealt with in

a positive, healthy manner. In contrast, when there was an imbalance between

the perceived demands and the individual's perceived resources, stress resulted

(Matheny, Aycock, & McCarthy, 1993).

The assumption that individuals actively respond to forces impinging upon

them has been a change in thought from earlier research in which individuals

were considered to be passive recipients in the stress and strain process

(Lazarus, 1991). Although coping has taken on a variety of conceptual meanings,

it has been referred to as the "things that people do to avoid being harmed by

life-strains" (Pearlin & Schooler, 1978, p. 2). Expanding on the definition of

coping, Lazarus and Folkman (1984) later referred to coping as the process, or

varying cognitive and behavioral efforts, an individual utilizes to regulate internal

and external demands. Most importantly, these demands are viewed as having

the potential to drain or exceed the individual's resources. With this definition of

coping in mind, Pearlin and Schooler emphasized the importance of studying

coping in the context of the challenges in which individuals encounter them and

the potential emotional impact or distress of these challenges.








The behaviors, responses, and efforts in the coping process that help

protect individuals from being psychologically harmed by challenging

experiences are said to mediate the impact that the environment has on the

individual. In order to understand the construct of coping as a mediator, it is

important to outline the various dimensions. In the broad sense, coping refers to

any response to external life-strains (i.e., conflicts, frustrations, threats) that

function to impede, circumvent, or control emotional distress. Under the broad

definition of coping, coping responses are distinguished from coping resources.

Coping responses are the specific perceptions, cognitions, and behaviors a

person uses when actually contending with and adjusting to personal life

stressors (Lepore & Evans, 1996; Pearlin & Schooler, 1978). Such coping

responses function to change the situation from which a life-strain arises, to

control the meaning of the life-strain after it occurs but before stress emerges, or,

finally, to control the emergent stress itself (Pearlin & Schooler, 1978).

Although coping responses represent the things that individuals do in

order to deal with the stressors they encounter, coping resources, on the other

hand, refer to what is available specific to the individual's coping repertoire

(Lepore & Evans, 1996; Pearlin & Schooler, 1978). The efforts an individual

undertakes prior to a particular stressor, involving the accumulation of resources

and the acquisition of skills, has been called proactive coping (Aspinwall &

Taylor, 1997).

Just as various definitions of stress and coping have been noted, various

definitions of coping resources exist. In their study of stress coping, Matheny,








Aycock, Pugh, Curlette, and Silva Cannella (1986) defined coping resources as

the properties, or characteristics, an individual possesses or utilizes to minimize

the probability that demands will be perceived as stressors, as well as increase

the effectiveness of the individual's coping behaviors. In their meta-analysis of

the experimental and non-experimental studies of stress coping, Matheny et al.

proposed an integrative model of stress and coping that included both efforts to

combat and to prevent stress. These researchers attempted to provide a

taxonomy of the specific coping behaviors and resources found to be most useful

in combating and preventing the stress response. Strategies to deal with

encountered stressors, the resulting stress response, and one's reactions to the

stressors were called combative coping. In contrast, preventive coping referred to

the strategies aimed at the prevention of demands being perceived as stressors,

as well as the strategies that were to increase the individual's resistance to the

effects of stress. The taxonomy proposed by Matheny et al. also incorporated

coping behaviors and coping resources. Coping behaviors were defined as the

actions taken to manage the stressors that individuals encountered and their

reaction to them. Coping resources were described as conditions or

characteristics that decreased the chance that demands would be perceived as

stressors and that increased the effectiveness of coping behaviors.

Subsequently, Matheny et al. emphasized the importance of preventive

measures.

McCarthy, Lambert, and Brack (1997) have suggested that preventive

coping resources may allow an individual to control or modify the nature of daily








stressors or demands encountered, the individual's perceptions about these

stressors or demands once they have been encountered, and the individual's

assessment of the ability to handle the demands. Expanding upon the work of

Lazarus and Folkman, as well as Matheny's research, McCarthy, Lambert,

Beard, and Dematatis (2001) proposed a model of prevention relative to stress

and coping, that depicts the integration of the transactional model of the stress

process and the role of preventive coping resources. This model (as shown in

Figure 1-1) helps to clarify the hypothesized influence of preventive coping

resources on potentially stressful events. Within Figure 1-1, McCarthy et al.

identified the points at which preventive resources were surmised to influence

potentially stressful events, as noted by the dashed lines. Specifically, these

researchers have suggested that preventive coping resources may allow one to

regulate or adapt the nature of daily stressors or demands encountered

(displayed by the dashed line from preventive coping resources to life events). In

addition, McCarthy et al. suggest that preventive coping resources may allow for

the altering of the perceptions an individual has about demands once such

demands are encountered (noted with a dashed line from preventive coping

resources to awareness of demands). Thirdly, preventive coping resources may

allow one to modify the appraisal of the individual's ability to handle the demands

(represented with a dashed line from preventive coping resources to appraisal).

McCarthy et al. (2001) describe demands as stressors imposed upon an

individual by other individuals or by oneself. Such demands may derive from life

changes, role requirements, daily hassles, or self-imposed obligations. As








depicted in Figure 1-1, the preventive coping resources one possesses may

influence an individual's awareness of the demands. Specifically, McCarthy and

Lambert (1999) found that individuals possessing sufficient levels of preventive

coping resources may interpret demands as less threatening, thus avoiding the

stress response in general.

Next, the awareness of a demand is followed by an appraisal of its

potential threat, as described earlier in the research by Folkman et al. (1979).

Within Figure 1-1, primary appraisals are directed towards demands, while

secondary appraisals are directed towards coping resources. Matheny et al.

(1986) proposed that within the primary appraisal process, demands would be

viewed as challenges that energized the person to optimal functioning, if the

individual's secondary appraisal of their coping resources was roughly equivalent

to or greater than the nature of the demand (shown as R>D in Figure 1-1).

In contrast, if the perceived demands exceeded the resources available in the

individual's secondary appraisal (R
in motion the stress response.

Finally, Figure 1-1 helps to visually distinguish between preventive coping

resources and those that are combative. Matheny et al. described combative

coping resources as those that are drawn upon to alter or diminish a stressor

once it has already happened or been experienced. Combative strategies have

been further delineated by Folkman et al. (1986) as either problem-focused or

emotion-focused. The former strategies focus on the stressor itself, altering the

person-environment relationship, and are considered active strategies. In








contrast, emotion-focused strategies aim at diminishing the individual's reaction

to the stressor or their stress response (as noted in Figure 1-1). In summary,

McCarthy's model attempts to demonstrate the importance of preventive coping

resources as means of minimizing negative events and concerns, in the

interpretation of demands so as to minimize the stress response, and in the

individual's perception of the ability to control demands by taking proactive steps.

Preventive Combative
Coping 4- Prevention Coping Resources Resilience Coping
Resources Resources


-- Secondary Appraisal Problem Focused Emotion Focused
S n ApriCoping Strategies Coping Strategies


Awareness Appraisal R of Demands Response
R


Life Events Primary Appraisal
role chansrequirements, Challenge Optimal
Hassles) > Functioning


Figure 1-1. Hypothesized model of prevention in stress and coping. (McCarthy
et al., 2001)

Studies have addressed to a limited degree what the sources of stress are

for principals and to a lesser degree what their coping strategies are once stress

is perceived or experienced. However, the role of prevention in coping has been

neglected. Additional studies are needed to identify the relationships among

principal characteristics, school demographic variables, the preventive coping

resources possessed and used by public school principals, as well as the

relationship between these preventive coping resources and principals' stress








levels. As the study of the construct of preventive coping resources has only

begun, additional research is needed to determine this construct's potential as a

mediating variable in relation to administrator stress levels. Subsequently, Figure

1-2 depicts the conceptual model for this study. Solid lines represent points in the

model where preventive coping resources might be most relevant in accounting

for the relation between the antecedent variables and the outcome variables.

More specifically, in an effort to investigate the extent to which preventive

coping resources may account for differences in principals' stress levels, this

study was guided by a mediational model proposed by Baron and Kenny (1986).

Within the model, "a given variable may be said to function as a mediator to the

extent that it accounts for the relation between the predictor and the criterion"

(p. 1176). Specifically, a variable functions as a mediator when the following

conditions occur: (a) the antecedent variables have significant positive

relationships or associations with the presumed mediator, (b) variations in the

mediator account for variations in the outcome variable, and (c) the antecedent

variables are associated with the outcome variable. If these three conditions are

demonstrated in the predicted direction, then when the mediator is added, any

previous association between the antecedent and outcome variables is no longer

significant. Mediation is considered to be strongest when there is no longer any

relationship between the antecedent and outcome variables.











>^ u ANTECEDENT VARIABLES
SPrincipal Characteristics
( Gender (xi) \
Years of experience as a principal (x2)
Number of hours worked per week (x3)





MEDIATING VARIABLE .. OUTCOME VARIABLE
Preventive Coping Resources (yi) Administrative Stress Index (y2)





ANTECEDENT VARIABLES
/ School Demographics
{ ,*District enrollment group (x4),'
,School level (elementary, middle/jr., high) (x5)
SSchool enrollment (x6)


Figure 1-2. Conceptual model of principal characteristics, school
demographics, preventive coping resources, and stress.


In this study, preventive coping resources were believed to function as a

means (the mediator) through which the principal characteristics and the school

demographic variables (the antecedent variables), were able to influence

principals' stress levels (the outcome variable). Using the model depicted in

Figure 1-2, principals' preventive coping resources were tested as a mediator.

The hypotheses for this study were constructed to test the three conditions for

mediation, with the subsequent analyses following the procedural steps outlined

by Baron and Kenny.

Purpose of the Study

The purpose of this study was to examine the relationships among

principal characteristics, school demographic variables, and the preventive








coping resources of principals in relation to their level of stress. The following

section delineates the specific questions, hypotheses, and model that guided this

research project.

Question 1

What are the current perceived stressors of public school principals in

Florida?

Question 2

What are the current preventive coping resources of public school

principals in Florida?

Hypothesis 1

Principal characteristics (i.e., gender, years of experience as a principal,

and number of hours worked per week) and school demographic variables

(district enrollment, school level, and school enrollment) are related to principals'

preventive coping resources.

Hypothesis 2

Principals' preventive coping resources are related to their stress levels,

with lower stress levels associated with the utilization of a greater number and

variety of preventive coping resources.

Hypothesis 3

Principals' preventive coping resources mediate the relationship between

principal characteristics (i.e., gender, number of years of experience as a

principal, number of hours worked per week), school demographic variables








(i.e., district enrollment group, school level, and school enrollment), and

principals' stress levels.

Questions 1 and 2 provided descriptions of the various sources of stress

reported by principals and the preventive coping resources principals utilize.

Hypotheses 1 through 3 involved the steps recommended by Baron and Kenny

when testing for mediation. Specifically, Hypothesis 1 addressed step one of the

model, regressing the mediating variable on the two sets of antecedent variables.

Hypothesis 2 addressed the second step of the model, regressing the outcome

variable on the mediating variable. Finally, Hypothesis 3 addressed step three of

the model, regressing the outcome variable on both the antecedent and

mediating variables.

Glossary of Terms

This section includes the definitions of the terms that were used in this

study.

Coping is the process, or varying cognitive and behavioral efforts, an

individual utilizes to regulate internal and external demands viewed as having the

potential to drain or exceed the individual's resources for dealing with these

demands (Lazarus & Folkman, 1984).

Coping resources are the prerequisites or characteristics an individual

possesses or utilizes in order to minimize the probability that demands will be

perceived as stressors and that increase the effectiveness of the individual's

coping behaviors (Matheny, Aycock, Pugh, Curlette, & Cannella, 1986).

Enrollment groups are defined by the Florida Department of Education

based on the enrollment of students within the districts. Small districts are








defined as those districts with less than 7,000 students. Medium/Small districts

have between 7,000 and 19,999 students. Medium districts are defined as having

20,000 to 39,999 students. Large districts enroll 40,000 to 100,000 students.

Lastly, Very Large districts are defined as having greater than 100,000 students

enrolled (Florida Department of Education, 2001).

Preventive coping resources are the individual's assets or capabilities that

allow them to control or modify the demands they encounter, the perceptions

they have about these demands once they are encountered, as well as their

appraisal of their ability to handle the demands (McCarthy, Lambert, Beard,

& Dematatis, 2001).

Principals are the primary building level administrators on a school

campus charged with the responsibilities of efficient and effective operation of the

school, as well as the provision of instructional programs focused on student

learning (NAESP, 1997, 2001).

School enrollment is the number of full time equivalent students (FTE)

reported to the Florida Department of Education.

School levels denote whether the school is an elementary, middle/junior,

high school, or combination of levels.

Stress refers to the relationship between an individual and the

environment that is appraised as draining one's resources, as well as the

individual's physiological and psychological adjustments to the stressors

(Lazarus & Foikman, 1984; McCarthy, Lambert, & Brack, 1997).








Stressors are the various situations, events, and thoughts that elicit the

stress response (McCarthy, Lambert, & Brack, 1997).

Significance of the Study

Despite what is known about the varied and multiple roles and demands

on principals, and resultant stress, the presumed influence of preventive coping

resources on administrative stress has not been explored. Although a multitude

of research has been conducted relevant to stress, far less research has been

devoted to the study of coping resources, with significantly less attention to

preventive coping. In 2002, an electronic browse using PsycINFO of all items

relevant to the keyword "stress" showed 66,948 entries. In contrast, 27,855 items

were found relevant to the keyword "coping." As the search narrowed more

specifically to "coping resources," the available literature reduced significantly to

2,007 entries. Finally, with entries specific to the keywords "preventive coping

resources," the search narrowed to 32 items.

Given the directives for accountability standards, opportunities for school

choice, principals' changing role demands, and increasing task expectations for

principals, additional research is imperative. Strategies offered to principals for

the management of their stress have typically overlooked the potential role of

preventive coping resources for controlling or modifying principals' perceptions of

their ability to handle such demands. Further research is needed to describe the

preventive coping resources currently used by principals, to summarize the

current sources of stress for public school principals in Florida, and to extend

what is known about the association between preventive coping resources and

stress. In addition, findings of the study may contribute to the knowledge base








relative to the continued success of principals in their ability to deal with

potentially stressing or demanding situations in the principalship.

Specifically, researchers have not investigated the preventive coping

resources and stressors of public school principals in Florida. Nor has the

relationship between personal characteristics and environmental variables on

principals' preventive coping resources and stressors been investigated.

Specifically, the association between various preventive coping resources and

school principals' stress levels, when controlling for the effects of various

principal characteristics and school demographic variables warrants further

study. In addition, the possible mediational role of preventive coping resources,

relative to stress, was investigated in this study. In view of the increasing roles,

task expectations, and demands being placed on public school principals today,

findings from this study described the preventive coping resources possessed

and utilized by public school principals in Florida. The relationships between

these preventive coping resources and administrator stress levels were

analyzed. In addition, this study provided a rationale for the need for further

development of preventive coping resources in principals and provided

implications for further research in this area. Results of the study added to the

body of knowledge relative to principal selection, assignment, and retention;

suggested areas of administrative support; as well as further professional

development activities.








Delimitations and Limitations of the Study

This section identifies the delimitations and limitations for this study.

Delimitations

1. The study was conducted in school districts in Florida. Results were
not generalized to other states or areas in the United States.

2. The data were collected from public school principals. Therefore, no
generalizations from the study were made to other educational
administrators.

3. Although attention and effort were directed to assuring that the sample
of principals for the current study was representative of the population
of public school principals, conclusions and inferences drawn were
generalized to the total population of school principals.

4. The study was limited to data gathered during the 2001-2002 school
year. Therefore, conclusions and inferences made from this study were
not generalized to other time periods.

5. For the purposes of this study, public school principals' stress and
stressors were operationally defined using the Administrative Stress
Index. Bearing in mind that different definitions of stress and stressors
exist, caution should continue to be used when comparing the results
of this study to other studies that utilize different definitions for
investigating stress and stressors.

6. Preventive coping resources were operationally defined and assessed
using the Preventive Resources Inventory. As different models of
coping and definitions of coping resources exist, construct validity was
considered a justifiable consideration. Likewise, caution should be
used when comparing the results of this study to other studies that
utilize different models for investigating an individual's coping
resources.

7. Caution is warranted in inferring causal relations from this non-
experimental, correlation-based study obtained through the use of self-
report measures.

Limitations

This section includes the limitations that were recognized within this study.

1. The limitations of self-report procedures and surveys, as noted by
Wallen and Fraenkel (2001); Burns (2000); Gall, Borg, and Gall (1996);








Judd, Smith, and Kidder (1991), were kept in mind when the results
and interpretations were noted.

2. The assumption was made that the principals had common
understandings of the terminology in the Administrative Stress Index
and the Preventive Resources Inventory.

3. The assumption was made that the principal respondents accurately
responded on the self-rating of their coping resources, stressors, and
stress levels.

Organization of the Remainder of the Study

This chapter has provided an introduction of the study, statement of the

problem, purpose of the study, glossary of terms, delimitations and limitations of

the study, and the significance of the study. Chapter 2 contains a detailed review

of the literature pertaining to the current theories related to stress and current

models of coping. Chapter 3 presents an overview of the methodology and

design that were utilized to study the research questions. In Chapter 4, the

results of the data analyses are presented. Lastly, the researcher provides a

discussion of the results and conclusions of the study, implications for the

educational field, and suggestions for future research in Chapter 5.













CHAPTER 2
REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE

Chapter 1 provided an overview of the study, including a statement of the

problem, the significance of the study, the research questions, and the intended

purpose. Specifically, the purpose of this study was to examine the relationship

between principal characteristics, school demographic variables, and the

preventive coping resources of principals in relation to their overall level of stress.

Chapter 2 provides a review of the literature: an introduction to the literature on

stress and coping, an overview of the historical models of stress, and the

components of current models of stress. Likewise, the stress, appraisal, and

coping process is delineated. Finally, reviews of the literature relevant to the

principalship and stress in the workplace, coping, and coping resources are

offered.

Introduction to Stress and Coping

Within the engineering discipline, a force (or load) is applied to an object,

creating stress (or the way the load impinges on the object). This stress then

results in strain (or the resulting deformation of the object). Of particular interest

to the engineer in the analysis of inputs and outputs is the elasticity of materials,

with materials resisting deformation until they break. This tension or strain in the

physical object, noted by the engineer, has been compared with stress in living

beings. Stress creates a biological disequilibrium which drives physiological and

behavioral efforts to restore the disturbed disequilibrium. Further research and








analyses through the years have shown that just as some materials resist

breaking because of their elasticity, some individuals also resist psychic distress

and dysfunction because of high stress tolerances.

This simple input-output engineering model has centered on what the

environment or stimulus does to an object, with a parallel drawn between the

inanimate objects and passive living creatures (Lazarus, 1991). However, the

original 17th century engineering model of stress and strain was limited in its

scope. For example, it failed to consider what the individual might actively do to

contribute to the outcome, one's motivation, and the way in which the individual

defined and evaluated relationships in the environment. The more accurate

model considers this active role of the individual.

The progression in research has resulted in a shift in thinking from an

earlier stimulus-response formulation to one that is more subjective,

transactional, and process oriented. With this shift, Lazarus (1991) surmised that

individuals engage in an appraisal process, evaluating the significance of what is

happening. Rather than a passive recipient in transactions, Lazarus postulated

that the individual is an active agent in transactions that have personal relevance.

This process of appraisal is reportedly influenced by both environmental and

personality variables. Within Lazarus's transactional model of stress, primary

appraisal refers to whether what is happening is personally relevant to the

individual; whereas secondary appraisal refers to the individual's coping options.

Lazarus has concluded that actual, anticipated, or imagined challenges requiring

some adaptation within an individual's environment are appraised by the








individual as being of either positive or negative significance. The nature and

intensity of an individual's emotions or responses were, subsequently, the results

of the individual's appraisal to these challenges.

Lazarus (1991) added that the quality and intensity of an individual's

emotional responses depended on the coping process. Coping has been defined

as the individual's "cognitive and behavioral efforts to manage specific external

and internal demands (and conflicts between them) that are appraised as taxing

or exceeding the resources of the person" (Lazarus, p. 112). In brief, the coping

process refers to what one thinks and does to alter the challenging person-

environment relationship. It is this coping process that ultimately changes either

the relationship, or the evaluation of the significance of what is happening or the

way the situation is appraised, thus changing the individual's resultant emotions.

The Concept of Stress

Stress has been associated with all types of activity. The term "stress"

continues to mean different things to different individuals, with the connotation

generally being negative. It is difficult to define in light of these different

interpretations, as well as the fact that it is an abstract construct, rather than a

tangible object. Yet, despite these differences and difficulties in defining the

construct, it is one that is used daily in our vocabulary. For the purposes of this

study, stress will be defined as "the body's physiological and psychological

adjustments to stressors" (McCarthy, Lambert, & Brack, 1997, p. 54). Likewise,

demands will refer to "requirements imposed either by oneself or others"








(McCarthy et al., p. 54). Stressors will refer to the "wide array of situations,

events, and thoughts that trigger the stress response" (McCarthy et al., p. 54).

Activity associated with stress may be viewed as pleasant or unpleasant,

though something that should not necessarily be avoided. In fact, Selye (1974)

stated that "complete freedom from stress is death" (p. 32). Although stress

generally has a negative connotation, it was noted as early as 1908 through the

work of Robert Yerkes and John Dodson, that stress can have positive, healthy

effects on an individual's performance. The positive, constructive outcome of

stressful events and the stress response was termed "eustress" (Quick, Quick,

Nelson, & Hurrell, 1997, p. 4). Yerkes and Dodson noted that an individual's

performance rose with increasing stress to a certain point. However, when the

stress load became too great, the individual's performance then decreased. This

relationship between stress load and individual performance became known as

the Yerkes-Dodson Law and is generally depicted by an inverted "U." It was

further asserted that the stress load would vary and be individual to each person

dependent upon individual and task factors. Considerations for the individual

included one's physical capacity, susceptibility to stress, fatigue level, as well as

psychological and cognitive skills. Considerations related to the task included

complexity, duration, difficulty, intensity, as well as knowledge and experience

with the task. Situations or tasks that provoked little stress or arousal often did

not impel performance, whereas situations or tasks that were too stressful or

complex impeded performance.








The contributing factor commonly viewed in the quickening of the strain is

the previously described "distress" or unhealthy stress and stress response. This

factor likewise contributes to departure from healthy functioning and to

physiological, psychological, and behavioral disorders. This individual distress

and strain, in turn, have implications for organizations. Commonly expressed

directly or indirectly, responses are absenteeism, tardiness, turnover, poor

performance on the job, health care costs, low morale or motivation,

communication breakdowns, faulty decision making, or poor working

relationships (Quick et al., 1997).

Historical Models of Stress

Research related to stress has evolved through the years, focusing initially

on the physical, medical and physiological aspects, noted in Hooke's, Selye's

and Cannon's work; and elaborating later on the psychological aspects of the

stress concept. This research has generally fallen into two categories:

(a) physiological, coined by Selye, in which stress was defined as the reaction of

the organism to some sort of external threat; and (b) transactional, in which

stress was defined as the "outcome of interactions between the organism and the

environment" (Singer & Davidson, 1984, p. 48).

The earliest definitions of stress were either stimulus- or response-based.

Stimulus definitions emphasized the events in the environment and assumed that

certain situations were stressful for all individuals. No distinction was made in the

stimulus-based definition to the role of individual differences in the evaluation of

these events. On the other hand, response definitions referred to the individual's








state of being stressed. The individual's response to a stimulus was considered

to be stressful if it was produced by a demand, threat, harm, or load (Lazarus &

Folkman, 1984).

French physiologist Claude Bernard first noted during the second half of

the 19th century that a living organism must remain fairly constant despite

changes in its external environment if it is to remain healthy and survive.

Similarly, Walter B. Cannon suggested that the physiological processes should

remain static or in a state of homeostasiss" (Selye, 1974). Cannon was

particularly interested in the relationship between emotional and psychological

states and physiological responses. While working with laboratory animals in

1915, Cannon hypothesized that under stressful situations there were

psychophysiological activities that were occurring, designated as the "emergency

reaction." Although the research by Yerkes and Dodson, related to stress load

and optimal performance, preceded the identification of the stress response, it

was Cannon's discoveries in 1932 that set the stage for the fight-or-flight

response, as well as the implication that the degree of stress could be measured

(Lazarus & Folkman, 1984; Quick et al., 1997).

Following Cannon's work, Selye began investigating the effects of

environmental stress on humans and other animals in 1932. It was his work that

played a prominent role in an expanded interest in the study of stress. Selye

(1974) defined stress as "the nonspecific response of the body to any demand

made upon it" (p. 27). In order to aid understanding of stress, Selye distinguished

between specific and nonspecific responses. Specific responses referred to the








unique actions one's body underwent as a result of a demand. For instance, the

blood vessels in the skin would contract to diminish the loss of heat from the

body surface when the body was exposed to cold. Similarly, our bodies perspire

when exposed to heat, creating a cooling effect when this sweat evaporated from

the skin surface. Selye also noted that when exposed to an agent, situation, or

demand, there were not only resultant specific actions, but also increases in

nonspecific actions. These nonspecific actions helped us adapt and return to a

sense of normalcy following the predictable specific bodily responses. This latter

demand for action or activity was viewed as the core of stress. It was the

intensity of the demand for readjustment or adaptation on the body that mattered,

rather than whether the situation or demand was viewed as pleasant or

unpleasant.

Selye's research provided the first evidence of the body's limited

adaptability and ability to withstand stressors. He was able to identify specific

physiological indicators of stress, including adrenal enlargement, thymus atrophy

or shrinkage, and gastrointestinal ulcers. Selye's laboratory studies in 1936

showed that rats underwent a stereotyped response or organ changes when

exposed to various adverse stimuli. This response included the enlargement and

hyperactivity of the adrenal cortex, shrinkage of the thymus gland and lymph

nodes, and the appearance of gastrointestinal ulcers. Ultimately, Selye's animal

experiments delineating the similarities in the changes when under stress

became known as the "general adaptation syndrome" (G.A.S.) or the biological








stress syndrome. This syndrome consisted of three phases: (1) the alarm

reaction; (2) the stage of resistance; and (3) the stage of exhaustion

(Selye, p. 38). During the alarm reaction, the body showed changes consistent

with those evidenced when first exposed to a stressor. The body's resistance

may be diminished, and if the stressor was particularly strong, death may have

occurred. In the second stage, or the stage of resistance, resistance arose if the

individual's means of adaptation were compatible with the stressor. The bodily

signs that first appeared during the alarm reaction had disappeared, and

resistance rose above normal. However, if the body continued to be exposed to

the same stressor, despite having become adjusted to it initially, eventually the

adaptation energy was exhausted with the signs of the alarm reaction

reappearing. This time, however, the body changes were irreversible and the

individual died. Selye compared the three stages to that of the stages in life:

childhood, characterized by low resistance and excessive responses to any kind

of stimuli; adulthood, in which adaptation to most situations has occurred and

resistance increases; and finally senility, characterized by one's exhaustion, by

irreversible loss of adaptability, exhaustion, and by the individual's eventual

death.

It was the discovery of the G.A.S. three-phase response pattern that gave

evidence of the limitations of the body's adaptability or adaptation energy. That

is, stressors could only be withstood for so long. Selye noted that "just as any

inanimate machine gradually wears out, even if it has enough fuel, so does the

human machine sooner or later become the victim of constant wear and tear"








(p. 39). Singer and Davidson (1984) expanded on Selye's work, noting that

Selye's model of nonspecificity implied that the effects of stress were cumulative.

This meant that each incident of stress left traces of the effects that built up as

one was exposed to other stressors. This residue was not considered to present

a challenge to the individual, except in those situations when the stressor

continued or the individual's adaptive abilities were low.

Stress and Coping: Current Perspectives

World War II propelled further theories and research on stress. In

particular, the military were interested in the effects of stress on individuals'

ability to function during combat. Specifically, the military hypothesized that if

soldiers were more vulnerable to injury and death, as a result of stress, then, the

entire combat group's potential efficacy in action would be diminished. Again,

during the Korean War, new studies were directed at the effects of stress on

physiological changes and skilled performance. Emphasis was placed on

selecting less vulnerable combat personnel and in the development of

interventions to help military personnel function more effectively under stress.

Finally, the psychological and physiological effects of combat stress were studied

during the Vietnam War (Lazarus & Folkman, 1984).

Cannon's and Selye's work had influenced the studies of combat stress,

focusing primarily on the physiological and medical aspects of stress and the

stress response. The interest in the effects of stress on individuals had been

stimulated by World War II and the Korean War. It was apparent that individuals'

performance under stress was not uniformly impaired or facilitated. Rather,








individuals' performances became more varied with stress, some doing better

and others doing worse with stress. It became apparent to researchers that the

prediction of an individual's performance while under stress required much

attention to the psychological processes that created the individual differences in

their responses. As a result, researchers shifted their attention toward the

relationship between the person and the environment, or the person factors and

the processes intervening between the stressor and the individual responses.

Studies began investigating stress-related processes, rather than individuals'

performance when under stress. Beginning in the 1960s, the role of coping in

stress adaptation began to grow (Lazarus & Folkman, 1984). Researchers began

looking at the psychological aspects of stress, life events, and their connection to

stress; searching for answers as to why individual differences were noted under

similar situations (Quick et al., 1997).

Having recognized the active role of the individual in response to stress,

Kahn (1970) studied stress in terms of both individuals and organizations, seeing

both as objects of stress and as active responders to stress. Kahn noted that the

stress response was a sequence of events, beginning in the environment. First

there was some sort of demand which the environment placed upon either the

individual or organization. Secondly, this demand was received by or recognized

by the individual or organization. The individual or organization's immediate

response to this demand varied behaviorally, emotionally, effectively, and

physiologically. Kahn surmised that such immediate responses were to be

distinguished from the enduring, or long-term, consequences of the stress. With








this model, Kahn was particularly interested in whether individuals were able to

appraise accurately what was happening to them, as well as whether the

individual's capacities for dealing with future stress would be diminished, remain

the same, or be enhanced.

Stress. Appraisal, and Coping

Lazarus's early work on stress in the 1960s suggested that stress should

be viewed as an "organizing concept" in order to understand the various events

occurring within the adaptational process. Stress was described as a category of

variables and processes. As such, in the 1970s, readers began noting categories

of stress relating to environmental stress, occupational stress, physiological

stress, social stress, and stress reactions (Appley & Trumbull, 1984). Even

though certain environmental pressures and demands are likely to evoke stress

in a number of people, differences in the reactions and degree of reactions

amongst individuals and groups are also noted. In order to understand these

differences among individuals in seemingly similar conditions, researchers must

consider the cognitive processes that transpire between the challenge and the

reaction, as well as the factors that mediate the relationship between these two

(Lazarus & Folkman, 1984).

Psychological stress was referred to as the relationship between the

person and the environment. This relationship was appraised by the individual as

either damaging to their well-being, or, draining of their resources. Whether the

individual judged a particular person-environment relationship to be stressful or

not was contingent upon cognitive appraisal. Lazarus and Folkman (1984) have








described cognitive appraisal as an "evaluative process that determines why and

to what extent a particular transaction or series of transactions between the

person and environment is stressful" (p. 19). The significance of an experience

was evaluated in terms of its meaning to the individual's well-being.

Primary appraisal. Lazarus and Folkman (1984) distinguish between three

kinds of primary appraisals: (a) irrelevant, (b) benign-positive, and (c) stressful.

Irrelevant appraisals carry no implication for the individual's well-being. There is

nothing to be gained or lost in this type of transaction, as it does not affect the

individual's values, needs or commitments. Secondly, benign-positive appraisals

occur if the outcome of the occurrence is positive for the individual. Specifically,

benign-positive appraisals enhance or assure the improvement of an individual's

well-being. Finally, Lazarus and Folkman describe stress appraisals as those

involving some form of harm/loss, threat, or challenge. Within harm/loss stress

appraisals, some form of damage to the person has already occurred. For

instance, there may be a loss of a loved one or damage to the individual's self-

esteem. Threat stress appraisals relate to those losses that have not yet taken

place, yet are anticipated by the individual. This latter type of stress appraisal

allows for anticipatory coping on the part of the individual, distinguishing it from

harm/loss stress appraisals, where there is not the opportunity for anticipatory

coping. Threat appraisals are generally associated with negative emotions such

as anger, fear, or anxiety: The last form of stress appraisal, challenge, focuses

on the potential for gain or growth as a result of the encounter. Again, this type of








appraisal entails the mobilization of coping efforts. As opposed to threat stress

appraisals, however, challenges generally invoke pleasurable emotions.

Secondary appraisal. This appraisal activity is an essential component of

every stressful encounter, because the outcome of the encounter depends on

what is at stake, as well as what can be done. This evaluative process takes into

consideration which coping options are available, the likelihood that it will

accomplish what it is supposed to, and the likeliness that the individual can apply

the appropriate set of strategies effectively (Lazarus & Folkman, 1984).

The individual's primary appraisal of what is personally at stake in the

encounter is combined with the secondary appraisal of the available coping

options. This complex interaction determines the degree of stress and the

strength and quality of the individual's emotional reactions. Lazarus and Folkman

(1984) have noted that if an individual has a high stake in the outcome of an

encounter or if the individual is helpless to deal with the demand, the level of

stress will be high because the harm/loss appraisal will not be prevented or

overcome. In all, the aforementioned appraisal process influences the coping

process, and in turn, how the individual reacts emotionally.

Reappraisal. A changed appraisal based on the gathering of new

information from the person or the environment is called reappraisal (Lazarus

& Folkman, 1984). This appraisal follows an initial appraisal. The changes in the

individual's appraisal may also stem from cognitive coping efforts. The latter

reappraisals are called defensive reappraisals and may be difficult to distinguish

from those reappraisals that are based on new information.








Related to the stress and appraisal process is the adequacy of an

individual's resources. Lazarus and Folkman (1984) have noted that a deficit in

resources makes an individual psychologically sensitive to stress, if the deficit

refers to something that matters. An individual's vulnerability is described as a

potential threat that escalates to an active threat when something of value is put

in jeopardy. Specifically, it is the combination of the lack of resources as well as

the relationship between the individual's obligations and the matching

appropriation of resources that defines psychological vulnerability.

Person factors influencing the appraisal process. Lazarus and Folkman

(1984) have identified two characteristics that shape the appraisal process:

commitments and beliefs. The former expresses what is important to the

individual or what is at stake to the individual in a stressful encounter. The

relationship between the propensity for harm or threat is directly related to the

individual's level of commitment. The deeper the individual's level of

commitment, the greater the potential for threat or harm. Such commitments

shape the choices that individuals make or are prepared to make in order to

maintain highly valued goals or ideals. Specifically, individuals' commitments

guide them into or away from situations that may challenge, threaten, benefit or

harm them. On the other hand, the strength of the commitment may also urge the

individual to move toward some action that can reduce the threat or move them

toward greater coping efforts. In brief, as the strength of the commitment

increases, the individual becomes more vulnerable to psychological stress in that

area of commitment. Similarly, the degree to which the individual shows








commitment determines the amount of effort the person is willing to put forth to

ward off any potential threats to that commitment (Lazarus & Folkman, 1984).

A second person factor influencing the appraisal process is beliefs

(Lazarus & Folkman, 1984). These preexisting fundamentals shape the

individual's understanding of what is and how things are in the appraisal process.

As beliefs are often taken for granted, their role in shaping the appraisal process

is generally unnoticed.

Situation factors influencing the appraisal process. Individual variations in

the extent that individuals appraise a situation as stressful relate to the

interrelationship between the aforementioned person factors and the following

situation factors. Specifically, Lazarus and Folkman (1984) considered novelty,

predictability, and event uncertainty to be situation factors influencing the

appraisal process. In addition, three temporal factors need to be considered:

imminence, duration, and temporal uncertainty.

Lazarus and Folkman (1984) have found that if a situation is completely

novel to an individual and has no negative psychological associations, it will not

result in a threat appraisal. Nor will the situation result in an appraisal of

challenge if it has not been connected with mastery or gain. In contrast, a novel

situation would be considered stressful if it was associated with previous threat,

danger, or harm. Predictability was found to be linked with the possibility of

anticipatory coping. However, a shift from predictable to unpredictable events

was considered to be highly stressful for people, with physiological changes

noted. Lazarus and Folkman found that not knowing whether an event was going








to occur, identified as unpredictability, created conflicting feelings and behaviors

in the appraisal process. This unpredictability sometimes led to feelings of

helplessness and confusion for the individual.

Temporal factors were also considered to be influential in the appraisal

process. Specifically, Lazarus and Folkman (1984) noted that the intensity of

appraisal increased as an event became more imminent. In contrast, less

imminent events were associated with more complex appraisal processes. With

more time to appraise the situation, individuals have the opportunity and tend to

think through and reappraise the encounter. The individuals have the choice to

reflect, avoid the problem, encompass a greater variety of coping resources, take

action, or make efforts to gain self-control. A second temporal factor to consider

is duration. This refers to the length of a stressful event. Lazarus and Folkman

assumed that chronic and lengthy stressors eventually wore down the individual,

both physiologically and psychologically. Finally, the research relative to the role

of temporal uncertainty is limited. However, the researchers contend that when

an individual knows when an event is to occur, their attention is directed to the

event, with less avoidant type coping demonstrated. This ultimately results in a

lower stress response. Finally, Lazarus and Folkman contend that when

information is less than clear or is insufficient, the situation is described as

ambiguous. Ambiguity can then be identified as a source of threat to the

individual due to the increased sense of helplessness over the possibility of

danger, threat, or harm.








Coping

Coping has been defined as "the process through which the individual

manages the demands of the person-environment relationship that are appraised

as stressful and the emotions they generate" (Lazarus & Folkman, 1984, p. 19).

Folkman, Schaefer, and Lazarus (1979) noted that within the coping process, the

individual would try to alter the person-environment relationship through problem-

solving, or, regulate their reaction to the stress. For the most part, individuals

tend to be effective in their coping process across various circumstances.

However, on occasion, individuals may not have the requisite skills to cope or will

have deficits that prevent the use of effective coping.

McGrath (1970a) observed that coping behavior may take place before,

during, or after the occurrence of a stress-inducing condition. Such coping

behaviors may be targeted toward preventing or removing the stressor, or toward

impeding or offsetting the consequences of that stress. McGrath (1970a) has

written that some kinds of coping behaviors appear before potentially

stress-inducing demands, rather than after. Anticipatory coping involves the

preparations for preventing or reducing the undesired consequences of the

stressing condition. In contrast, preventive coping involved the actions taken by

individuals that prevent the stress-inducing condition from occurring.

Some coping processes were action-centered and problem-focused,

changing the person-environment relationship. Other coping processes were

called emotion-focused or cognitive coping strategies, only intended to change

the way the relationship was interpreted or addressed. The latter processes








involved mainly thinking, rather than acting. Lazarus (1991) added that coping

strategies, whether problem-focused or emotion-focused, were associated with

improvement in the individual's emotional state from the beginning to the end of

the challenging encounter. As a result, negative emotions decreased, while

positive emotions increased. Most importantly, Lazarus viewed the appraisal and

coping process as influential in the subsequent appraisals and emotional

reactions for future events.

Pines and Aronson (1988) also found variations in individuals' coping

styles, with these styles differing in their effectiveness. In their study involving

147 participants, Pines and Aronson found that 20% of the participants took a

direct-active strategy when coping with stress. That is, these participants

confronted the source of stress, changed the source of stress or adopted a

positive attitude. In contrast, 20% of the participants took a direct-inactive coping

approach, either avoiding the sources of stress or doing nothing about them.

Forty-nine percent of the participants used a variety of indirect-active coping

techniques: talking about the stress, thinking about the stress, or getting involved

in other physical, religious, or relaxation activities. Finally, 11 % of the participants

utilized a variety of indirect-inactive coping styles, including worrying, crying,

drinking, eating, smoking, accepting the situation, or doing nothing.

In a second study involving eighty-four participants, Pines and Aronson

(1988) found that active coping styles were most frequently used and the most

successful to manage burnout, as they were more likely to change the source of

the stress. In contrast, inactive strategies were used less frequently and were the








least successful when countering burnout. Of importance in Pines and Aronson's

results, was the fact that the direct-inactive strategy of consciously ignoring the

source of stress was similar to active strategies to cope with the stress. The

researchers distinguished between ignoring or avoiding the stress and denial

about the stress. The former was noted to be a conscious decision by the

individuals to deal with the stress sooner or later; whereas with denial, the

individual perceives everything to be fine, bringing about later distress as a result

of the situation worsening.

The most appropriate coping styles for stressors that are identified as

continuous, situational, and changeable were found to be direct-active. Such

stressors constantly posed a threat to the individual and were viewed as

changeable. In contrast, Pines and Aronson assert that when the stressors or

demands are intermittent, yet changeable, an individual might use a direct-active

coping style or prefer to leave it or ignore it. When the source of stress is not

changeable and the stress is intermittent, a direct-active coping style is not

useful. Rather, the individual must seek intermittent relief to help them through

the peak periods of stress.

Presenting a particular challenge to individuals is immutable stress that is

continuous. Indirect-active strategies tend to be the most responsive. Indirect-

active strategies might include talking about the source of stress, changing

oneself, or getting involved in other activities. Such strategies are aimed at

closing the gap between the environmental demands and the individual's

capacity (Pines & Aronson, 1988). Finally, Pines and Aronson's research showed








that females tend to use indirect methods of coping more frequently (i.e., talking

about the stress, getting ill, and collapsing); whereas males tend to use direct

strategies of changing the sources of stress and ignoring the stress more often.

Coping Resources

Hobfoll (1989) defined psychological stress in terms of an individual's

perceived or actual loss of resources. He has conveyed that stress is produced

when there is a threat or actual loss of resources, as well as a lack of resource

gain after the individual has invested resources. Hobfoll asserted that an

understanding of stress is tied in with an individual's resources. Resources were

defined as "... objects, personal characteristics, conditions, or energies that are

valued by the individual or that serve as a means for attainment of these objects,

personal characteristics, conditions, or energies" (p. 516). Hobfoll proposed the

model of conservation of resources. Specifically, individuals attempt to minimize

the loss of resources when confronted with stress. It was noted that if the

individuals' expenditure of resources were greater than the coping benefits, the

outcome of the coping would be negative. In contrast, individuals attempt to build

their resources when they are not in stressful situations. The individual's building

of their resources would buffer them from future losses, as well as contribute to

the likelihood of goal attainment and positive feelings.

Hobfoll (1989) identified four types of resources which individuals strive to

enhance. The first type of resource was called object resources. These

resources meet individuals' basic physical needs and help the individual achieve

status. The second type of resource included conditions such as marriage, job








security, or seniority. The buffering effect on stress that this category brought

about was contingent upon the degree to which the individual valued these

states. Hobfoll's third group of resources related to personal characteristics.

This group of resources included positive self-regard, internal locus of control,

optimism, resourcefulness, self-efficacy, and mastery. Hobfoll's last group of

resources helped to facilitate the individual's acquisition of the other categories of

resources. He called this group, "energies." This latter group included money,

time, and knowledge. Hobfoll added that social support did not fit into any of the

aforementioned groups of resources. Rather, social relationships were viewed as

a resource only to the extent that they facilitated or provided the maintenance of

an individual's necessary resources. Social relationships could either be positive

or negative, contingent upon the quality and type of social support they provided.

Hobfoll added that it was not the number of relationships that has importance to

the individual, but rather that he or she has the presence of one or two intimate

relationships that protect against psychosocial and health risks.

Folkman, Schaefer, and Lazarus (1979) noted that coping resources

provide the basis for coping action. However, the potency of these resources is

contingent upon the individual's knowledge of their own resources and

understanding of their own use of these resources. Variations in a person's

coping resources are noted across time, as they expand and contract relative to

the individual's experience, degree of stress, time of life and the adaptation

requirements. Lazarus and Folkman (1984) explained further that the presence

of a resource at any given time does not mean that it will be available to the








person at another time. However, some resources were considered to be less

changing than others. Lazarus and Folkman provided the example that

individuals' general beliefs about their own efficacy tends to be relatively stable.

In addition, Lazarus and Folkman noted that each stressful encounter has its own

task demands. The individual's mere possession of resources did not necessarily

mean that the appropriate resource would be used at the appropriate time or in

the stressful encounter in which coping was required.

Six categories of coping resources were delineated by Lazarus and

Folkman (1984), including health and energy, positive beliefs, problem-solving

skills, social skills, social support, and material resources. Health and energy

resources are particularly necessary in enduring, chronic stressful conditions.

Lazarus and Folkman proposed that individuals' would have less energy to

expend on coping if they were sick, tired, or depressed. In contrast, healthy

individuals were more likely to endure stressful crisis situations. Individuals'

beliefs in themselves or their positive view of themselves were regarded as a

positive coping resource. Lazarus and Folkman surmised that general and

specific positive beliefs provided hope in situations, forming the basis of the

individual's positive coping efforts in challenging conditions. The individual's

generalized belief that situations were controllable helped provide answers to

questions about events and circumstances that were perceived to be threatening

or challenging. Next, Lazarus and Folkman described the category of problem

solving skills in terms of the individual's ability to work through specific problems

in generalized, abstract skills, as well as in their day-to-day activities. Social skills








were identified as important coping resources because of their role in helping

individuals problem solve with other individuals. Lazarus and Folkman asserted

that individuals were more likely to have greater control over social interactions

through the use of social skills. Similar to Hobfoll's previous notions regarding

social networks or social support, Lazarus and Folkman have noted that social

support systems can be a valuable coping resource. Finally, the last category of

coping resources was material resources. This category included money, tools,

training programs, and services. The overall benefit of this coping resource was

its capability of increasing the individual's coping options in other stressful

encounters. It was assumed that individuals with an abundance of utilitarian

resources generally handled stressful situations more positively than individuals

who lacked in this resource category.

Scheier and Carver (1993) have approached the notion of positive thinking

by expressing that the actions people take are considered to be influenced by

their expectations about the consequences of these actions. The researchers

add that positive expectations for the future are shaped by positive thinking.

Higher levels of optimism have been associated with more positive well-being

during times of stress. In particular, individuals with positive beliefs are able to

normalize their lifestyle, or adjust more quickly, following stressful events than

those with pessimistic beliefs. Scheier and Carver also associate optimism with

more effective problem-solving strategies, direct action, and focused efforts. In

addition, positive beliefs are associated with individuals' acceptance of reality

and the opportunity for personal growth during stressful situations. In contrast,








pessimists try to deny that stressful situations occur, generally dealing with them

through avoidance. Pessimistic beliefs are associated with tendencies to give up

more quickly.

The relative importance of various coping resources was investigated by

Holmes and Werbel (1992). In their longitudinal study of 186 individuals who had

recently lost their job and who were actively seeking reemployment, the

investigators hypothesized that individuals with greater coping resources would

be able to find new jobs more quickly than those with less coping resources.

Holmes and Werbel reported three significant findings relevant to the 67

individuals (or 36% of the sample) who found new jobs within three months of

their termination. First, participants who found employment were significantly

more internal in their locus of control. Similarly, the individuals in new

employment situations had scored significantly higher in their self-efficacy when

compared to those who remained unemployed. Thirdly, participants who found

new jobs had scored significantly higher in their problem-solving skills than those

participants that remained unemployed. In contrast, significant differences

between those individuals that found new employment and the unemployed were

not significantly demonstrated in their health, social skills, social support or

material resources. Overall, the individuals who were able to locate new

employment opportunities scored higher in their positive beliefs and problem-

solving skills, in comparison to those who remained unemployed.

In view of the association between stress and academic failure, the role of

coping resources has been studied with school-aged children and adolescents.








Relative to this role, Matheny, Aycock, and McCarthy (1993) have reported that

students frequently use a combination of coping strategies simultaneously in

order to combat the stressor and to manage their emotional responses to it. The

list of resources includes the following: (a) social support from family, friends, and

peers; (b) social skills (i.e., assertiveness and communication skills); (c) positive

thinking (i.e., self-talk); (d) self-esteem; (e) a sense of control; and

(f) problem-solving skills. In studies of students' responses to stressors and their

coping strategies, gender differences have been noted. Matheny et al. related

that females' predominant stressors relate to personal appearances and

difficulties in relationships. In contrast, males' greatest sources of stress related

to apprehension about the possibility of failing grades and concerns about

vocational adjustment. Overall, females perceived more life demands than

males. By the same token, females relied heavily upon social support, as well as

used a broader range of coping strategies than did males.

Demands in the Principalship

Research has consistently demonstrated the fact that strong instructional

leadership is a key to effective schools. However, Lyons (1990) has reported that

principals face major sources of stress in carrying out their duties and

responsibilities. Specifically, principals may experience stress as a result of role

conflict. Such conflict may emanate when the principal is expected to accomplish

and carry out district goals, policies and directives that are in conflict with the

goals and expectations of staff members. At the same time, principals are

expected to be instructional leaders within their schools. However, Lyons








contends that the size, complexity and level of most secondary schools warrants

the majority of secondary school principals' time to be designated toward

administrative activities, numerous interruptions, and the enormous number of

daily interpersonal contacts. This paradox presents another source of stress for

principals. Conflicts between student and student, teacher and student, teacher

and teacher, teacher and parent, teacher and assistant principal, and teacher

and central office supervisors are not uncommon in the school setting.

Frequently, the effectiveness of principals is judged by their ability to resolve

such conflicts. The principal's challenge to be problem-solver and peacemaker

can be time-consuming and stressful, particularly with the knowledge that such

problems may be referred to the central office if they are not resolved.

Nonetheless, Bailey, Fillos, and Kelly (1987) reported that exemplary principals

exhibit fewer symptoms of stress than a standard set of principals, as measured

by general health patterns and general health patterns.

Relative to the multiple demands and sources of stress in the

principalship, Doud and Keller (1998) reported that 89% of the K-8 principals

surveyed, indicated that they work longer than the average 40 hour work week,

with 45 hours representing the mean for the principals' work week. In all, over

51% of the principals responded that they spend 10 or more hours per day at

school, reflecting an increase from nine as reported by Doud (1989). Two-thirds

of the principal respondents spend 8 or fewer hours per week in school-related

activities outside of the normal work day. This also represents an increase from

the mean of six hours reported by K-8 principals ten years earlier. Factors that








were noteworthy in terms of how much additional time was spent in the extra

curricular activities related to gender, community type, and the years of

experience. Female principals averaged eight additional hours per week on

activities outside of the school day, in comparison to their male counterparts who

averaged seven hours. Principals of schools in rural areas typically spent seven

hours per week in additional activities in comparison to principals in other

community settings. Lastly, principals with fewer than five years of experience

reported working more hours per week, in general, than principals with more

years of experience; however, they averaged one less hour per week in the

outside activities (Doud & Keller, 1998).

As previously noted by Doud (1989), female principals reported a higher

number of work hours in school-related activities. Similarly, a higher number of

work hours in school-related activities were noted by principals with less than 14

years of experience, those less than 50 years of age, those with more academic

preparation, principals of schools with pupil enrollments of 400 or less, and

principals in rural communities. In addition, principals with the least amount of

experience were more likely to spend the most amount of time at work each day.

Similarly, differences were noted between male principals and female principals,

with the former averaging nine hours per day and the latter averaging 10 hours

per day (Doud & Keller, 1998).

Doud and Keller's survey in 1998 also inquired about principals' current or

potential concerns in their schools. Seventy-two percent of the respondents

identified "fragmentation of time" as the most prevalent management issue. In








addition, over one-half of the respondents identified major concerns related to

student assessment/performance and students not performing up to their

potential. Instructional practices and curriculum development were also

recognized as major sources of concern by 46.1% and 44.6% of the

respondents, respectively. Relative to student issues, Doud and Keller reported

that 40% of the principal respondents noted management of student behavior as

a major concern. Professional development and the retraining of staff were noted

by approximately 50% of the respondents as a major concern and by 40% of the

respondents as a minor concern. Lastly, principal respondents identified two

major sources of concern relevant to stakeholder issues. Approximately 56% of

the principals who responded to the survey identified the assurance of the

necessary financial resources as a major concern; while approximately 41%

noted the level of parental participation as another source of major concern.

Principals and Stress

Brimm (1983) has contended that principals are besieged on a daily basis

with frequent interruptions and multiple spur-of-the-moment meetings. Although

the amount of stress resulting from these events may vary from principal to

principal, stress is considered to be an invariable factor in the life of even the

most organized principal. When individuals are exposed to high stress

environments, in which time demands are the norm, decisions have to be made

continually, and the individuals have minimal time to reflect; limited options are

available. McCabe and Schneiderman (1984) have offered the following courses

of action:








(a) accept the stress, (b) seek out periods of time away from the stressful

environment, and/or (c) restructure one's life to follow an alternative course. This

latter strategy may involve changing one's perceptions and behaviors relative to

the stressful environment.

Of particular importance to the field of research specific to principals and

stress, are Walter Gmelch and Boyd Swent. In 1984, these two researchers

conducted an exploratory survey of school administrators for the purpose of

identifying their perceptions of the major sources of stress within their jobs. The

sample for this action research project was drawn from approximately 1,855

administrators who were members of the Confederation of Oregon School

Administrators. Usable questionnaires were received from 1,156 administrators,

representing 354 elementary administrators, 397 junior high and high school

administrators, 151 superintendents or superintendent/principals, 254 assistant

superintendent and central office staff, and 89 "others" (i.e., curriculum

directors, transportation supervisors, and athletic directors). The mean age within

the sample was 42, with 91% of the participants being male. The average

number of years of administrative experience was nine. The median number of

hours worked per week was 55. Of particular significance was the finding that

more than 60% of the participants attributed 75% of their total life stress to work.

Gmelch and Swent's instrument for their study was developed to measure

sources of administrators' job-related stress, with the intent of capturing all

relevant aspects of their job. From the resultant Administrative Stress Index,

Gmelch and Swent were able to identify the corresponding top ten stressors of








administrators, specific differences in sources of stress when compared by

administrative position, as well as differences in stressors by school level

(i.e., elementary, junior, and high). More specifically, the following corresponding

top ten stressors were identified: (1) complying with state, federal, and

organizational rules and policies; (2) feeling that meetings take up too much time;

(3) trying to complete reports and other paper work on time; (4) trying to gain

public approval and/or financial support for school programs; (5) trying to resolve

parent/school conflicts; (6) evaluating staff members' performance; (7) having to

make decisions that affect the lives of individual people that I know (colleagues,

staff members, students, etc.); (8) feeling that I have too heavy a work load, one

that I cannot possibly finish during the normal work day; (9) imposing excessively

high expectations on myself; and (10) being interrupted frequently by telephone

calls. Gmelch and Swent referred to the top 20% of the 35 items, or seven top

stressors as "high" stressors. Five of the top seven stressors were considered to

be significant beyond the .001 level. The following five were specifically cited as

statistically significant: (1) complying with rules, (2) gaining support, (3) school

conflict, (4) evaluating performance, and (5) making decisions (Gmelch & Chan,

1995; Gmelch & Swent, 1984).

Gmelch and Swent's study (1984) also revealed specific differences in

sources of stress when compared by administrative position (as depicted in

Table 2-1). Superintendents and assistant superintendents perceived more

stress from "complying with rules and policies" in comparison to other

administrative groups. Likewise, junior high vice/assistant principals perceived








Table 2-1

Rank and Mean Scores of Top Stressors by Administrative Position
as Reported by Gmelch and Swent (1984)


Stress Traps All Senior High Junior High Elementary
Administrators Principals Principals Principals

Complying with rules 1 1 1 1
and regulations (3.34) (3.37) (3.51) (3.26)
Attending meetings 2 2 2 2
(3.10) (3.31) (3.23) (3.14)
Completing paperwork 3 6 5 3
(2.99) (3.07) (3.02) (3.02)
Gaining public approval 4 3 10 5
(2.97) (3.18) (2.80) (2.92)
Resolving parent 5 5 4 6
conflicts (2.82) (3.10) (3.14) (2.84)
Evaluating staffs 6 4 3 4
performance (2.79) (3.16) (3.23) (2.95)
Affecting lives of people 7 8 6 7
(2.77) (2.99) (2.99) (2.80)
Too heavy work load 8 10 9 10
(2.72) (2.87) (2.81) (2.56)
Expectations on self 9 11 12 8
(2.70) (2.80) (2.69) (2.61)
Telephone interruptions 10 9 10 9
(2.67) (2.80) (2.80) (2.58)
Outside school 11 7 3 12
activities (2.67) (3.00) (2.86) (2.52)
Student discipline 12 15 7 11
(2.58) (2.56) (2.97) (2.54)


Total number of 1156 123 88 354
administrators in study



significantly more stress from "trying to resolve parent/school conflicts." A

noteworthy finding from Gmelch and Swent's study included the fact that junior

high principals perceived greater stress relative to the evaluation of staff








members in comparison to high school vice-principals, assistant superintendents

and central office staff.

From their study, Gmelch and Swent (1984) found that nearly all

elementary and junior and senior high principals rated compliance with state,

federal and organizational rules and policies as their primary source of stress.

In contrast, senior and junior high vice-principals rated attending meetings and

resolving parent conflicts, respectively, as their top stressor. Elementary and

senior high principals rated the overwhelming number of meetings as their

second top stressor, whereas junior high principals noted that latter area, as well

as the evaluation of staffs performance as their next most stressful activity.

Again, secondary school principals were more bothered by frequent telephone

interruptions and participation in school activities outside normal working hours,

than elementary and junior high principals. When compared to elementary

principals, secondary school and junior high principals were bothered more by

student conflicts. Rank and mean scores of the top stressors by administrative

position are provided in Table 2-1.

Gmelch and Swent (1984) noted that four of the most troubling stressors

corresponded to the management of activities and their relationship to time.

Therefore, they recommended that emphasis be placed on time and activity

management training for principals, particularly in certification and preservice

programs. In addition, the researchers encouraged greater emphasis in

increasing principals' understanding and comfort level relative to legal training,

compliance procedures and guidelines. In addition, continued emphasis on








interpersonal communication skills, conflict resolution and community relations

was strongly recommended by Gmelch and Swent.

Other researchers have explored the domain of principals and stress,

supporting and expanding upon Gmelch and Swent's work. Brimm's study (1983)

of Tennessee school administrators included 258 elementary principals,

75 junior high principals, 121 secondary principals, 61 superintendents, and

94 supervisors of instruction. The study supported Swent and Gmelch's earlier

findings, with 8 of the top 10 stressors identified in the Oregon study also being

identified by Tennessee administrators as creating significant job-related stress.

Brimm reported that the top 10 stressors identified by Tennessee administrators

who completed the Administrative Stress Index were as follows:

(1) complying with state, federal, and organizational rules and policies;
(2) having to make decisions that affect the lives of individual people
I know;
(3) trying to resolve parent-school conflicts;
(4) evaluating staff members' performance;
(5) being interrupted frequently by telephone calls;
(6) trying to complete reports and other paper work on time;
(7) trying to gain public approval and/or financial support for school
programs;
(8) feeling I have to participate in school activities outside the normal
working hours;
(9) feeling that the progress on my job is not what it should or could be;
(10) feeling that I have too heavy a work load, one I cannot possibly finish
during the normal working day. (Brimm, p. 66)

For the most part, those tasks which were perceived to be stressful for

principals related primarily to the day-to-day job administrative tasks and

responsibilities normally associated with the principalship. Brimm's study

revealed that secondary school principals also reported considerable stress

resulting from the overall workload and excessive paperwork, citing that such








activities could not be completed during the normal work hours. Elementary,

junior and high school principals reported that the activities were particularly

bothersome and ones that caused anxiety: (a) decision making involving

students and staff, (b) the evaluation of staff members, and (c) attempts to

resolve parent-school conflicts. Of importance however, were Brimm's findings

which revealed differences among the administrators with regard to individual

stressors. Principals at all levels showed a relationship between job stress and

the high expectations they establish for themselves. Elementary principals, in

contrast to junior high and high school principals, reported feeling more pressure

on this question. In contrast, junior high and secondary school principals reported

that their participation in school activities outside of the normal work hours

resulted in substantial stress.

Whan and Thomas (1996) contributed to the growing research base on

principal stress by directly measuring the physiological changes in capillary red

cell movement as the body responded to stress. A Tissue Perfusion Index (TPI)

was calculated based on changes in the capillary red cell movement. TPI

readings were reported to be inversely related to the level of stress. Severe

stress was shown with a TPI reading of ten or below, indicating that the blood

flow to the capillaries had been severely restricted. Heavy stress was shown as a

TPI reading over 10 and up to 30, indicating that because of a physiological

response, the blood flow to the capillaries had been heavily restricted. Lending

support to the concept that not all stress is counterproductive, operational stress

was noted with a TPI reading over 30 and up to 80, indicating that a certain








amount of stress was noted, but that the level of stress was productive in

generating energy towards meeting goals. Finally, relaxation was noted with TPI

levels between 81 and 120 with a base level of 100. A level above 120 indicated

deeper relaxation, a lowered pulse rate, and relaxed breathing.

For the study, Whan and Thomas followed ten principals from one division

of the State Department of Education in New South Wales, Australia, for a period

of five days. Stress was identified by the observations of the principals and

verified by the physiological TPI levels. A summary of the researchers' findings

indicated that nine of the ten principals experienced days when they were

affected by heavy or severe stress for more than 30% of the time at work,

occurring on 77% of the days observed. Likewise, five of the ten principals

experienced days when they were under heavy or severe stress for more than

50% of their time at work. Whan and Thomas's results concurred with others'

findings that stress does vary from individual to individual. However, they

observed activities and administrative behaviors that coincided with increased

levels of stress for all the observed principals.

From Whan and Thomas's study, eight broad categories of stress-

associated activities were identified, with six related to personnel within the

school community. Although the principals valued hard work, honesty, and a

desire to ensure effective instructional strategies, heavy or severe stress levels

were noted when teachers exhibited values that were contradictory to that of the

principal. Similarly, teachers' lack of honesty and openness raised the stress

level of the principal. Elevations in stress levels were noted during formal








assemblies, as well as staff meetings, particularly when controversial issues

were to be discussed or when there was uncertainty about how teachers would

react. Likewise, severe stress was also associated with teacher absences, when

the task of finding a replacement was placed on the principal. Inadequate

performances by members of the administrative staff and certain teacher

behaviors were associated with heavy and severe stress in the principals.

Teacher behaviors associated with these stress levels included their failure to

supervise the students properly, to circulate in the classroom to assist students,

and to prepare lessons adequately. Likewise, principals associated higher stress

levels with teacher behaviors such as frequently sending the students to the

principal for discipline, blaming others for their own problems, and failure to carry

out administrative directives at the required time. Finally, higher stress levels

were associated with teachers being generally negative and unsupportive, in

addition to frequent complaining to other staff members about decisions,

procedures, and duties. Recurring, defiant student behaviors left principals

feeling frustrated, annoyed, angry and stressed. Similarly, the possibility of harm,

threat, loss of status or reputation from confrontational situations with parents

brought about severe and heavy stress levels. Likewise, when confronted with

powerful parent organizations or lobby groups, principals experienced heavy

stress levels. Elevated stress levels were also recorded when the ultimate

responsibility for rectifying supply shortages was left to the principal. Finally,

principals' stress levels increased when dealing with matters pertaining to the








buildings and grounds and the implementation of numerous simultaneous policy

changes and initiatives.

Such stressors, identified by Whan and Thomas, were amplified by the

principals' sense of time urgency to complete the tasks, while dealing with

interruptions. In summary, Whan and Thomas identified several elements of the

principalship that were associated with increased levels of stress in all or most of

the principals observed. These included (a) certain teacher attitudes and

behaviors, (b) substandard performance of administrative staff, (c) recurring

inappropriate student behavior, (d) problems with buildings and grounds,

(e) development and implementation of policy and curriculum, as well as (f) the

heavy demands of work to be completed within a limited period of time.

Coping in the Principalship

By using the Administrative Stress Index and Coping Preference Scale,

Allison (1997) explored the differences and the relationships between specific

coping techniques used most commonly by principals and the total stress scores.

Allison's sample for this survey research consisted of 1,455 public school

principals in the province of British Columbia, Canada. The most common coping

strategies chosen by the principal respondents were primarily strategies intended

to moderate the effects of stress on the individual, as opposed to strategies that

intended to reduce the sources of stress in the environment. Using the Coping

Preference Scale, Allison identified the top five coping strategies as the following:

1. practice good human relation skills with staff, students and parents;
2. maintain a sense of humor;
3. approach problems optimistically and objectively;








4. maintain regular sleep habits, and
5. set realistic goals (recognize job limitations).

Allison continued to delineate the various coping strategies into seven

factors, rank ordering them according to their weighted means. The following

coping preference scale factors were identified and ranked accordingly:

1. realistic perspective;
2. positive attitude;
3. good physical health program;
4. intellectual, social, and spiritual support;
5. increased involvement;
6. time management and organization;
7. withdrawal and recharging.

Utilizing a stepwise multiple regression analysis, Allison identified eight

coping strategies that were significantly associated with the principals' total

Administrative Stress Index score (p < .05). However, the issue of multi-

collinearity amongst the variables was not addressed in the cited methodology.

Specifically, principals who set realistic goals, approached problems

optimistically and objectively, engaged in activities that supported spiritual

growth, took mini-vacations, and were actively involved in their communities were

found to have significantly lower stress scores on the Administrative Stress

Index. In addition, principals with low stress scores chose two coping strategies

related to their own health and well-being (i.e., engage in regular physical

exercise or less active non-work or play activities). In contrast, Allison noted that

principals with high stress scores generally chose coping strategies related to

their job (i.e., working harder, including nights and weekends; talking to district

administrators and other school principals, and withdrawing from situations).








In addition, Allison reported that principals with low stress levels had a

statistically significant greater repertoire of coping techniques with a mean

number of 12.08 frequently chosen coping strategies. In contrast, principals with

high stress scores had a mean of 9.64 frequently chosen coping strategies.

Overall, principals with higher stress scores had a more limited repertoire of

coping techniques. In addition, principals with higher stress scores use the

coping techniques overall to a lesser extent than principals with lower stress

scores.

Allison's analysis of stress and coping strategies in relation to principal

and school characteristics revealed differences by gender, school level, highest

level of degree, and age. Specifically, female elementary school principals and

female high school principals differ in their approach to coping. The elementary

principals tend to talk with family members and close friends, while the female

and male high school principals tend to work harder in order to cope. Male

elementary principals were reported to cope by engaging in active non-work or

play activities. Principals' degree level was positively related to their use of

coping strategies, with principals with doctoral degrees more frequently

employing coping strategies than master's level principals or bachelor's level

principals, respectively. Similarly, doctoral level principals reported that in

addition to working harder, they also maintain good health habits. Younger

principals (age 30-39) were more likely to work harder than older principals.

While differences existed for these personal variables, Allison noted that

amongst elementary and secondary female and male principals, their top three








coping strategies included the practice of good human relations skills with staff,

students and parents; the maintenance of a sense of humor; and an optimistic

and objective approach to problems. In all, Allison concluded that principals who

have broad coping repertoires tend to be in better health and to experience lower

stress levels, in comparison to principals with limited coping repertoires. Again,

Allison emphasized the importance of workshops for principals on task and time

management information, various coping strategies, and the development of

broad coping repertoires in order to lessen the effects of work-related stress.

Although school administrators are not able to completely eliminate stress

in their work day, efforts to raise their understanding and level of awareness

about stress and potential sources of stress will help them cope before stress

occurs. Successful administrators will be able to manage the various stressors

that they encounter daily, will be able to acknowledge the existence of potential

sources of stress, as well as be flexible to changing circumstances

(Brimm, 1983).

In brief, this chapter presented an overview of the literature relevant to

past and current models of stress, as well as the components of the stress,

appraisal and coping process. In addition, the demands of the principalship and

relevant research on principals' stress and coping processes were presented.

Chapter 3 continues with the methodology for the study.













CHAPTER 3
METHODOLOGY

This chapter presents the mediational model that was tested through this

research project. Secondly, the chapter reiterates the questions, hypotheses, and

analyses that guided this research project. Chapter 3 continues with a summary

of the University's Institutional Review Board approval process, as well as a

description of the population and samples for the pilot study and the final

research project. Next, the instruments used in the study are identified and

described in terms of their development. Available data on the psychometric

properties, reliability and validity, are presented. In addition, the procedures

involved in the research process, as well as in the collection of data are

delineated. Finally, the statistical analyses are identified and described.

Mediational Model

Guiding this study was a mediational model proposed by Baron and

Kenny (1986). First, these researchers stressed the importance of distinguishing

between moderator and mediating variables. Specifically, moderators were

defined as variables (quantitative or qualitative) that affect the direction and

strength of the relationship between the antecedent (independent) and outcome

(dependent) variables. In contrast, a variable may be considered to be a

mediator to the degree that it accounts for the relationship between the

antecedent and the outcome variables. Baron and Kenny proposed a path








diagram as a model for illustrating the concept of mediation, as depicted in

Figure 3-1.


SMediator
a b

C
Predictor Variable Outcome Variable

Figure 3-1. Mediational Model (Baron & Kenny, 1986).


Baron and Kenny's model assumes that there are three variables, with two

causal paths feeding into the outcome or dependent variable. First, there is the

path from the independent variable to the mediator (Path a). Next, there is the

impact of the independent variable on the mediator (Path b). Finally, there is the

path that depicts the direct impact of the antecedent variable on the outcome

variable (Path c).

Baron and Kenny stated that a variable functions as a mediator when the

following conditions occur: (a) the antecedent variables have significant positive

relationships with the presumed mediator, (b) mediator variations account for

variations in the outcome variable, and (c) when both are held constant, any

previous associations between the antecedent and the outcome variables are no

longer significant. Mediation, therefore, is considered to be strongest when there

is no longer any relationship between the antecedent and outcome variables.

The purpose of this study was to examine the relationships among

principal characteristics, school demographic variables, and the preventive

coping resources of principals in relation to their level of stress. Specifically, this








study examined the mediational role of preventive coping resources between

principal characteristics and school demographic variables (the antecedent

variables) and the outcome variable (principals' stress levels). Preventive coping

resources were examined as the mechanism through which principal

characteristics and school demographic variables affect principals' stress levels.

The following section delineates the specific questions, hypotheses, and

model that guided this research project.

Question 1

What are the current perceived stressors of public school principals in

Florida?

Analysis of Question 1

Question 1 was analyzed through the provision of descriptive statistics for

principals' perceived stressors, including each variable's measures of central

tendency and variance.

Question 2

What are the current preventive coping resources of public school

principals in Florida?

Analysis of Question 2

Question 2 was analyzed through the provision of descriptive statistics for

principals' reported preventive coping resources, including the measures of

central tendency and variance.








Hypothesis 1

Principal characteristics (i.e., gender, years of experience as a principal,

and number of hours worked per week) and school demographic variables

(district enrollment, school level, and school enrollment) are related to principals'

preventive coping resources.

Analysis of Hypothesis 1

To test the first condition of the mediational model, the relationships

among the principal characteristics, school demographic variables, and

principals' preventive coping resources were explored through a regression

analysis. Within this analysis, the principal characteristics and school

demographic variables represented the two sets of antecedent variables.

Principal gender, district enrollment group, school level, and school enrollment

were treated as categorical variables and were dummy coded for the analyses. In

contrast, the number of years of experience and the number of hours worked per

week were treated as quantitative, continuous variables. Principals' preventive

coping resources represented the mediating variable. The estimated structural

model was E(Y1) = a + bix, + b2x2 + b3x3 + b4x4 + b5x5 + b6x6; where

Y1 = principals' preventive coping resources, x, = gender, x2 = number of years of

experience as a principal, x3 = number of hours worked per week, x4 = district

enrollment group, x5 = school level, and x6 = school enrollment.








Hypothesis 2

Principals' preventive coping resources are related to their stress levels,

with lower stress levels associated with the utilization of a greater number and

variety of preventive coping resources.

Analysis of Hypothesis 2

To test the second condition of the mediational model, the relationship

between principals' preventive coping resources (the quantitative, mediating

variable) and principals' stress levels (the quantitative, outcome variable), when

controlling for the effects of principal characteristics and school demographic

variables, was analyzed through a regression analysis. The estimated structural

model was E(Y2) = a + b7Y1; where Y2 = principals' stress levels and

Yj = principals' preventive coping resources.

Hypothesis 3

Principals' preventive coping resources mediate the relationship between

principal characteristics (i.e., gender, number of years of experience as a

principal, number of hours worked per week), school demographic variables

(i.e., district enrollment group, school level, and school enrollment), and

principals' stress levels.

Analysis of Hypothesis 3

The third condition of the hypothesized mediational model was tested

through a two-step regression analysis. Within the last step of the procedure

outlined by Baron and Kenny (1986), the outcome variable was first regressed on

the two sets of antecedent variables. For this analysis, the principal








characteristics and school demographic variables represented the two sets of

antecedent variables. Principal gender, district enrollment group, school level,

and school enrollment were treated as categorical variables and were dummy

coded for the analyses. In contrast, the number of years of experience and the

number of hours worked per week were treated as quantitative, continuous

variables. Principals' stress levels, as measured by the Administrative Stress

Index, were treated as a quantitative, outcome variable. The estimated structural

model that was tested for this step was the following: E(Y2) = a + bixi + b2x2 +

b3x3+ b4x4 + b5x5 + b6x6: where Y2 = principals' stress levels, x, = gender, x2 =

number of years of experience as a principal, x3 = number of hours worked per

week, x4 = district enrollment group, x5 = school level, and x6 = school enrollment.

Secondly, when establishing mediation, Baron and Kenny recommended

regressing the outcome variable on both the antecedent variables and the

mediating variable. In addition to the aforementioned variables, this analysis

included principals' preventive coping resources, as a quantitative, mediating

variable. The estimated structural model for this final step was:

E(Y2) = a + bix, + b2x2 + b3x3 + b4x4 + b5x5 + b6x6 + b7 Y1. Again, Y2 = principals'

stress levels, x, = gender, x2 = number of years of experience as a principal, x3 =

number of hours worked per week, x4 = district enrollment group, x5 = school

level, and x6 = school enrollment, and Yj = principals' preventive coping

resources.

Questions 1 and 2 provided descriptions of the various sources of stress

reported by principals and the preventive coping resources principals utilize.








Hypotheses 1 through 3 involved the steps recommended by Baron and Kenny

when testing for mediation. Specifically, Hypothesis 1 addressed

step one of the model, regressing the mediating variable on the two sets of

antecedent variables. Hypothesis 2 addressed the second step of the model,

regressing the outcome variable on the mediating variable. Finally, Hypothesis 3

addressed step three of the model, regressing the outcome variable on both the

antecedent and mediating variables.

Participants

In this section, the Institutional Review Board procedure and approval

process is specified, as well as the prerequisite activities. In addition, the

population for the study, as well as the samples for the pilot study and actual

research study are described.

Institutional Review Board Procedure and Approval

Prior to the initiation of the research project, approval to use the

Administrative Stress Index and the Preventive Resources Inventory was

obtained from the test authors. The letters requesting permission and granting

permission to use the Administrative Stress Index are noted in Appendices A and

B. The letters requesting permission and granting permission to use the

Preventive Resources Inventory are found in Appendices C and D. In addition,

prior to seeking approval from the University of Florida's Institutional Review

Board (UFIRB), a request for information regarding the availability of principals'

residential addresses was sent to the Florida Department of Education (Appendix

E). Once the aforementioned permission letters and information were obtained,








approval from the UFIRB was requested for this research project. Approvals for

the pilot study of the Administrative Stress Index and the final study were

obtained through separate applications. The protocol and Informed Consent for

the pilot study of the Administrative Stress Index are provided in Appendices F

and G. UFIRB approval was granted for the pilot study and is displayed in

Appendix H. Likewise, Appendix I includes a copy of the participant questionnaire

for the pilot study. Appendix J includes the Administrative Stress Index. Finally,

the protocol and Informed Consent for the final research study are provided in

Appendices K and L, respectively.

Population

The population for this study included all elementary, middle/junior high,

and high school public school principals in Florida employed during the

2001-2002 school year. The Florida Department of Education's Education and

Information and Accountability Services report (Fall, 2001) noted that there are

2,714 public school principals in Florida. More specifically, 59% (N = 1,612) of

the principals in Florida are females, whereas 41% (N = 1,102) of the principals

are males. Within the aforementioned report, the Profiles of Florida School

Districts (Fall, 2001) indicated that for the Racial/Ethnic Distribution Profiles of

Total Administrative Staff at the School Level, 73% (N = 1,987) of the staff are

White, Non-Hispanic; 20% (N = 537) of the staff are Black, Non-Hispanic; 7%

(N = 182) of the administrative staff are Hispanic; less than 1% (N = 2) are

Asian/Pacific Islander; and less than 1% (N = 6) are American Indian/Alaskan

Native.








The Florida Department of Education's Education Information and

Accountability Services report also indicated that there are 67 districts in Florida.

Such districts are alphabetized and numbered from 1 to 67, respectively.

Of these 67 districts, 10% (N=7) are identified as very large, with a student

enrollment of 100,000 students or more; 10% (N=7) are large, with a student

enrollment of 40,000 to 99,999; 21% (N=14) are medium, with a student

enrollment of 20,000 to 39,999; 21% (N=14) are noted as medium/small,

with a student enrollment of 7,000 to 19,999; and lastly, 37% (N=25) are small,

with a student enrollment of less than 7,000.

Finally, the Profiles of Florida School Districts Report (2001 2002), within

the Education Information and Accountability Services report, indicated that there

are 3,648 public schools within the 67 districts. Of these schools, 45% (N=1,656)

are elementary, 13% (N=465) are middle/junior, and 11% (N=399) are senior

high schools. The remaining 31% or 1,128 schools represent exceptional student

schools, combination schools, adult schools, vocational schools, charter schools,

Department of Juvenile Justice, or other types of schools.

Sample

Two separate samples were selected for this research project. Initially, a

sample was drawn for the pilot study of the Administrative Stress Index.

Following the pilot study, a subsequent sample was drawn for the actual

research study.

Pilot study sample. A total of 30 public school principals from the

elementary, middle, and high school levels within a large Central Florida school








district were randomly selected. Of the 30 principals randomly selected, a total of

25 principals responded to the survey, representing an 83% response rate.

Within the resultant sample, 52% were males and 48% were females. The mean

age of the participating principals was 52.4 years. Eighty percent of the

participating principals in the pilot study were White Non-Hispanic. Eight percent

of the participants 8% indicated a racial/ethnic category of either Hispanic or

Black Non-Hispanic; and lastly, 4% indicated a racial/ethnic category of American

Indian/Alaskan Native. Within the pilot study sample, 72% of the participants

reported holding a Master's degree as their highest level of degree obtained.

Another 20% indicated that they hold a Specialist degree, while 8% had received

a Doctorate.

The mean number of years the pilot study participants had been principals

was 10.4. In contrast, the mean number of years in the field of education was

reported by the principals to be 29.2. Sixty percent of the participants

represented the elementary school level, whereas 20% represented the middle

school level, and another 20% represented the high school level. Finally, when

asked about the school enrollments, 32% of the principals indicated an

enrollment of 750 or fewer students, 44% reported a school enrollment of 751 to

1,000 students, and finally, 24% indicated a student enrollment of 1,501 or more

students on their campus. Table 3-1 summarizes the characteristics of the 25

participating principals for the pilot study.








Table 3-1

Principal Respondents' Characteristics for Pilot Study

Characteristics Frequency Valid %
Gender
Female 12 48%
Male 13 52%
Racial/Ethnic Category
American Indian/Alaskan Native 1 4%
Black Non-Hispanic 2 8%
Hispanic 2 8%
White Non-Hispanic 20 80%
Highest Degree Earned
Masters 18 72%
Specialist 5 20%
Doctorate 2 8%
School Level
Elementary 15 60%
Middle 5 20%
High 5 20%
School Enrollment
1-750 8 32%
751-1,500 11 44%
1,501 or more 6 24%
Note: N = 25.

Research study sample. A request for the mailing addresses of the

principals in Florida was made to the Florida Department of Education (Appendix

E). From this listing, a sample of principals (N = 216) was drawn from the

population of public school principals in Florida using a stratified design. During

the random selection process, it was necessary to combine the small and








medium/small categories in order to obtain a sufficient number of principals at

each level for the study. The principals were selected randomly from each of the

four district enrollment groups (i.e., very large, large, medium, small/medium-

small) by school levels (i.e., elementary, middle/junior, high), for a total of 12

categories. Eighteen principals from each of the 12 categories were selected,

yielding a total sample size of 216 participants.

Five surveys were returned as undeliverable from the initial mail out.

Babbie (1973) recommended that, in calculating the actual response rate, the

number of questionnaires that could not be delivered should be subtracted from

the initial sample size. The actual response rate is then based on the number of

completed questionnaires divided by the net sample size. For this study, the net

sample size was 211 principals.

Two weeks after the initial mailing, a total of 68 completed surveys and

four undeliverable surveys were received, yielding a response rate of 32%. A

second mailing was sent out on the fifteenth day of the study to those principals

that had not responded at that point to the initial mailing, along with a letter again

requesting their participation in the study. A total of 116 completed surveys and

five undeliverable surveys were received. Twenty-three of the completed

surveys, or 20 of the surveys, were a result of the second mailing. Overall, a

response rate of 55% was obtained through the two mailings and the offering of

the gift card. A third mailing was not necessary as the desired response rate for

analysis and reporting was obtained from the first two mailings.








Forty-nine percent of the participating principals were females, whereas

approximately 51% of the principals were males. The majority of principals, 88%,

were White Non-Hispanic, whereas approximately 10% were Black Non-

Hispanic. Slightly less than 1 % of the respondents were either American

Indian/Alaskan Native or Hispanic. The age of principals ranged between 37 and

63, with the majority of respondents (68%) between the ages of 49 and 60. The

average age of the principal respondents was 52 years. Table 3-2 summarizes

the principal respondents' personal characteristics.

Table 3-2

Principal Respondents' Personal Characteristics for Actual Study

Personal Characteristics Frequency Valid %
Gender
Female 57 49.1%
Male 59 50.9%
Racial/Ethnic Category
American Indian/Alaskan Native 1 .9%
Black Non-Hispanic 12 10.5%
Hispanic 1 .9%
White Non-Hispanic 100 87.7%
Age at Time of Survey
37-42 9 7.8%
43-48 22 19.2%
49-54 47 40.9%
55-60 31 26.9%
60 or older 6 5.2%
Note: N = 116. Two respondents did not provide a racial/ethnic category. One
respondent did not provide a current age.








A total of 80 principals, representing 69% of the respondents, reported a

master's degree as their highest degree earned. Principals with doctorate

degrees accounted for 24% of the respondents, whereas 7% had a specialist

degree. The principals were also asked to indicate their total number of years in

the education profession. The majority of principal respondents (56%) reported

between 22 and 31 total years in the education profession. Another 24% reported

between 32 and 36 years of experience in education. The principal respondents

for this study averaged 28 years of experience in education, with a minimum of

12 years and a maximum of 41.

When asked what age the principals were first appointed to a

principalship, the age range for this sample varied between 25 and 60 years of

age, with a mean of 43. The majority of respondents (61%) were between 37 and

48 when first appointed. With regards to principal tenure, the respondents

varied from one year to 36 years as a principal. The majority of respondents

(73%) ranged from one to ten years of experience, with another 10% reporting

between 16 and 20 years of experience as a principal. The average number of

years of experience as a principal for this sample was reported to be 8.

Finally, the principals were surveyed about the approximate average

number of hours worked per week, including activities relevant to attending

school functions, school district meetings, etc. Although the number of hours

varied between 43 and 98, the average number of hours worked per week was

reported to be 57. Principals who reported the number of hours worked per week

ranging from 49-63 accounted for 75% of the respondents. Approximately 11% of








the sample reported working 70 or more hours per week. Table 3-3 summarizes

the professional characteristics of the participating principals.

Principals were surveyed regarding the levels of school in which they have

been principals. Approximately 33% of the principal respondents were based at

elementary schools. Another 35% were principals at the middle/junior level.

Twenty-five percent were high school principals. Lastly, approximately 7% of the

respondents were principals at either combination middle/high schools or other

school settings. Approximately 77% (N = 89) of the participating principals

reported experience at one school level during their career as principals. In

contrast, 19% (N = 22) reported experience as a principal at two school levels.

Within the sample, 4% (N = 5) of the principals noted experience at the

elementary, middle/junior, and high school levels.

Principal respondents were asked to indicate the enrollment group, or PK-

12 membership, in the district in which they were principals. Initially, response

categories were: (a) small-less than 7,000 students, (b) medium/small- 7,000-

19,999 students, (c) medium- 20,000-39,999 students, (d) large- 40,000-100,000

students, and (e) very large-greater than 100,000 students. However, the five

district enrollment categories were recorded into three categories due to the

number of cases with missing values for the regression analyses. Specifically,

the resultant district enrollment categories were as follows: (a) small/medium

size, 39,999 students or less; (b) large size, 40,000 to 100,000 students; and

(c) very large, greater than 100,000 students. Fifty percent of the participating








Table 3-3

Principal Respondents' Professional Characteristics for Actual Study

Professional Characteristics Frequency Valid %
Highest Degree Earned
Masters 80 69.0%
Specialist 8 6.9%
Doctorate 28 24.1%

Number of Years in the Education Profession
12-16 7 6.1%
17-21 9 7.8%
22-26 32 27.8%
27-31 32 27.9%
32-36 29 24.3%
37-41 6 6.0%

Age Appointed to First Principalship
25-30 4 1.8%
31-36 17 16.3%
37-42 33 28.3%
43-48 38 32.7%
49-54 22 18.9%
55 or greater 2 1.7%

Total Number of Years as a Principal
1-5 48 41.4%
6-10 37 32.0%
11-15 12 7.3%
16-20 12 10.3%
21-25 5 4.4%
25 or greater 2 1.8%

Number of Hours Worked Per Week
43-48 7 6.2%
49-53 37 32.6%
54-58 21 18.6%
59-63 28 24.6%
64-69 9 7.9%
70 or greater 12 10.6%
Note: N = 116. One respondent did not provide the total number of years in the
education profession. Two respondents did not provide the number of hours
worked per week.