Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Education


Educational Leadership

First Advisor

Dr. Harold W. Boles

Second Advisor

Dr. Uldis Smidchins

Third Advisor

Dr. John Geisler

Fourth Advisor

Dr. James Jaksa


In this study, an interdisciplinary approach was used to examine the problem of role stress and social support as a stress moderator. The purposes of this study were: (a) to determine the level of occupational stress for school principals and identify significant occupational stressors, (b) to measure the effects of social support in reducing role stress, (c) to note the characteristics of the effective providers of social support, and (d) to identify factors in the educational setting that can strengthen coping skills by providing for social support.

A total sample of 355 subjects was randomly selected from the larger population of elementary and secondary school principals employed by public or private Catholic or Christian schools in Michigan. A survey questionnaire was developed by the researcher to gather data about principals' perceptions of role stress as well as the types and effects of supportive behaviors provided to principals by others. A total of 292 useable questionnaires (83.4 percent) were included in the study. Various statistical measures were used to test seventeen research hypotheses including; the Pearson r, repeated measures ANOVA, one-way ANOVA, and the t-test for independent samples.

The data supported the following conclusions: (1) Principals perceived a difference in the degree of stress attributable to specific events or concerns in the work environment; however, overall levels of reported role stress were not as high as the literature review might lead one to expect. (2) The categories of time management and responsibility for people were considered by principals to be primary stressors, while the highest sources of human-induced stress were perceived as resulting from adult pressure groups in the school environment. (3) More experienced principals perceived less role stress than did their less experienced colleagues. (4) Most principals perceived a satisfactory person/job role match and acknowledged having skills that made them successful in coping with potential work role stressors. A positive relationship was found between social support and successful job related coping skills. (5) Social support--particularly emotional/psychological support from colleagues, family, and friends--was perceived as highly beneficial, although other direct and interactive sources of support were also reported as providers of supportive behaviors. (6) Administrative meetings were perceived by principals as a viable way to increase informational support in the educational setting. (7) Non-public school principals reported higher levels of support from teachers than did public school principals, although high levels of support from teachers was generally reported in both cases.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access