Term of Award

Fall 2006

Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Education Administration (Ed.D.)

Document Type and Release Option

Dissertation (open access)

Copyright Statement / License for Reuse

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.


Department of Leadership, Technology, and Human Development

Committee Chair

James F. Burnham

Committee Member 1

Cordelia D. Zinskie

Committee Member 2

Mary H. Jackson

Committee Member 3

Walter S. Polka

Committee Member 3 Email



The purpose of this research study was to determine elementary principals' perceptions of their ethical philosophy, formal leadership preparation in graduate school in the area of ethics, and actions needed for the development and maintenance of an ethical school. The persons most appropriate to provide the answers to the research questions included the population of elementary principals. A random sample of 915 elementary principals in Georgia was identified by listings on the Georgia Department of Education Website or by each county's web page. A descriptive, quantitative methodology was used, with a qualitative component of open-ended questions in order to bring out detailed feedback from the respondents. Instrumentation for this study was in the form of a survey designed by the researcher and based on the review of literature. The instrument was validated by nine experts in the field of ethics. These experts were employed by or were recently retired from the Professional Standards Commission or published authors in the field of ethical research. The instrument was pilot tested with eight volunteer principals from Richmond County. The survey was found to be reliable by using Cronbachs alpha at the .79 level. The survey contained 26 Likert style statements, with choices ranging from strongly agree, being given one point, to strongly disagree, being given five points. Five open-ended questions were added in order to gain more specific feedback from respondents. In total, 169 surveys were completed, with a return rate of 18.5%. This return rate limited the ability of the researcher to generalize to the entire population. Findings from this researchers study showed that principals understand the importance of their responsibility to model ethical values and behaviors. Many principals felt their ethical leadership preparation in graduate school was not sufficient, even though they agreed that their programs emphasized ethics, approached education as an ethical endeavor, and provided time for ethical case studies. Although principals felt a strong personal commitment to ethics, many did not have a formal ethical training program in place in their school.

Research Data and Supplementary Material