The informal socialization of Catholic elementary school principals: Implications for administrative staff development

Julie Ann Stoffels, Marquette University


This study investigated the informal socialization of principals of Catholic elementary schools, seeking the administrative staff development implications for career socialization processes to meet new and existing challenges in curricular and instructional leadership. Research questions focused on how Catholic elementary school principals are informally socialized into administration and on administrative staff development in two areas: strengthening the level of preparation of principals and of aspirants to that role, and assuring the continuation of socializing processes for Catholic elementary school principals already in that role. A Socialization Survey instrument was mailed to a random sample of 1,200 principals of Catholic elementary schools throughout the United States. The 438- respondent sample was predominantly female, of balanced religious/lay status, with long-term experience as principal. Quantitative response data comprised 156 items. Qualitative response data, comprising answers to seven open-ended questions, were computer-encoded verbatim and evaluated using key word search techniques to identify themes and new variables. Tabulations were completed for each of the designations of gender, status, and experience for all quantitative items in the survey. Cross-tabulations were completed for ten primary differentiating criteria. All relationships in the model, including item response distributions and rankings by respondent categories, were subjected to significance testing, using chi-square. Results of this study confirm the socialization process of principals into the role as occurring both before and after assuming the principalship. The study has importantly captured a variety of significantly different perceptions about the socialization process and implications for maintaining and enhancing it. Implications for preparational and ongoing administrative staff development included skills/abilities agreed upon by respondents as better learned formally including how to: evaluate teachers, develop and work with a budget, work with curriculum, and develop/implement a school philosophy reflecting Catholic character. Principals also recommended preparational changes characterized by practicality and social interaction. Significant others who influenced the informal socialization of principals included college/university professors, principals for whom sample respondents taught, diocesan office administrators, and self/experience.

Recommended Citation

Stoffels, Julie Ann, "The informal socialization of Catholic elementary school principals: Implications for administrative staff development" (1993). Dissertations (1962 - 2010) Access via Proquest Digital Dissertations. AAI9325693.