All ETDs from UAB

Advisory Committee Chair

Loucrecia Collins

Advisory Committee Members

Matthew Fifolt

Michele Jean-Sims

Andrew McKnight

William Boyd Rogan

Document Type


Date of Award


Degree Name by School

Doctor of Education (EdD) School of Education


A PHENOMENOLOGICAL STUDY OF PRINCIPALS' SELF-EFFICACY BELIEFS IN ALABAMA TORCHBEARER SCHOOLS MARK A. SULLIVAN EDUCATIONAL LEADERSHIP ABSTRACT The purpose of this phenomenological study was to gain an in-depth understanding of the self-efficacy beliefs of 10 principals of Torchbearer schools in Alabama. Principals who serve in schools that have high concentrations of students who are living in poverty face challenges in improving student achievement. Principals of these schools are required to promote school environments that are conducive to learning for all students. In February 2005, the Alabama State Department of Education began recognizing high-poverty public schools and their principals for overcoming the odds of low academic performance and standing out as high-achieving schools. These schools were identified as Torchbearer schools. This qualitative study use a phenomenological design in an effort to enable the researcher to explore and gather rich descriptions of principals' self-efficacy in Alabama Torchbearer schools from the participants' perspective, using data collected directly from the participants through in-depth interviews, and site observations. Ten principals, who represented five school districts from across the State of Alabama, comprised this study. Each participant gave their explicit permission and the study was in full compliance with Institutional Review Board (IRB) guidelines. After analyzing all the data collected, five themes with corresponding sub-themes emerged. The five major themes that emerged were (a) leadership preparation, (b) approach to leadership and collaboration, (c) approach to school related obstacles, (d) sources of efficacy, and (e) philosophical beliefs about student achievement. This study of perceptions of principals' self-efficacy beliefs in Alabama Torchbearer schools may be helpful to schools, districts, boards of education, and colleges and universities. Exploring the approaches implemented and perceptions of principals of high poverty, high achieving schools will add insight to this population of students. This may be beneficial to principal professional development planning and educational leadership programs with the goal of preparing principals to be successful in high poverty school environments.

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