Doctoral Dissertations

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



Major Professor

Vincent A. Anfara, Jr.

Committee Members

Gerald C. Ubben, Pamela A. Angelle, Deborah A. Wooten


The purpose of this explanatory, mixed methods case study was to examine instructional leadership within the context of rural secondary schools. This investigation followed an explanatory mixed methods design of sequential quantitative and qualitative phases (QUAL→quan). For the quantitative phase, the Principal Instructional Management Rating Scale (PIMRS) was administered to eight principals and 312 teachers in eight rural secondary schools in the southeastern United States. Descriptive analysis of principal and teacher results found that principals were most engaged in the subscales of framing school goals, coordinating curriculum, and promoting professional development and least engaged in the subscales of maintaining high visibility, protecting instructional time, and providing teaching and learning incentives. Independent t-tests found statistically significant differences in the instructional leadership of principals based on four contextual factors: school size, school SES, principal administrative experience, and district funding (per pupil expenditure). Two principals and their schools were selected for participation in the qualitative phase of the study. Interviews and observations of principals and interviews with teachers added insight to the findings of the quantitative phase. Participants characterized the principalship as a multifaceted job where secondary school principals fulfilled four leadership roles: instructional leader, district/community liaison, organizational manager, and problem solver. Participants also identified important instructional leadership behaviors not measured by the PIMRS, such as hiring effective teachers, providing instructional resources, and sharing leadership responsibilities. The study concludes with suggestions for future instructional leadership research and practical advice for rural secondary school principals.

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