Date of Award


Degree Name

EdD Doctor of Education

Dissertation Committee

Robert L. Infantino, EdD, Director; William R. Foster, PhD; Patricia A. Lowry, PhD; Mary A. Quinn, PhD, Reader


attitudes, composition research, education, instructional leadership, principals, San Diego (California), school administrators, writing programs


One purpose of this study was to assess the attitudes of principals toward recent research findings concerning the teaching of writing. The second purpose of this study was to assess attitudes of principals toward the instructional leadership practices which would be essential to the management of an effective school-wide writing program. Subjects were (N = 180) elementary and secondary principals from San Diego County, California. The questionnaire used for this study, "Principals' Attitudes Regarding Written Composition," and the interview schedule were developed by the researcher based on a review of the literature. Fiftyeight percent of the questionnaires were returned with 57% being scorable. Seven principals were selected as a comparison group to respond to the interview schedule. The independent sample t test and one-way analysis of variance were used to investigate the effect of: level of supervision, years of experience as a teacher and administrator, sex, professional expertise, and attendance at presentations related to the teaching of written composition. Chi-square was used to investigate hypotheses regarding differences in responses to the individual items on the survey. Results indicate that female principals demonstrated more positive attitudes in response to the questionnaire than did male principals. Principals with less than 5 years of administrative experience expressed significantly more positive attitudes than principals with more than 16 years of administrative experience. Analysis of responses to the questionnaire items indicates that general knowledge of the crisis in writing has promoted an awareness of the need to improve student writing performance. However, a summary of the responses indicates that only 1/3 of the principals responded with strongly held attitudes which would be needed to initiate a program reform. In 13 of the 40 questions a significant number of principals responded by indicating that they were "undecided." The assumption is that they lacked sufficient knowledge upon which to base a response. Implications of this study suggest written composition inservice and training programs for principals are in order. Guidelines are suggested for the incorporation of the philosophy of the National Writing Project (NWP) in the model for principal training programs. Recommendations for observational research are made based on the results and limitations of this study.

Document Type

Dissertation: Open Access