Tonya Cooper Dissertation Final Defense


The College of Education, Health and

Human Sciences

Announces the Final Examination of

Tonya Delores Cooper

for the degree of

Doctor of Education

March 30, 2015 at 10:00 am

Ball Hall, University of Memphis

Memphis, TN

Biographical Sketch

Bachelor of Arts, English, Lane College

Master of Science, Leadership and Policy Studies, University of Memphis


Advisory Committee

Reginald Green, Ed.D., Professor, Leadership, Committee chair

Larry McNeal, Ph.D., Professor Chair, Leadership

Lauren E. Burrow, Ed.D., Assistant Professor, Instruction & Curriculum Leadership

Louis A. Franceschini, III, Ph.D, Research Assistant Professor, Leadership


Major Field of Study

Leadership and Policy Studies

Period of Preparation: 2011-2015

Comprehensive Examination Passed: November, 2013





The purpose of this quantitative study was to determine if student achievement was enhanced when principals exhibited behaviors informed by 16 dispositions. Principals from 120 schools classified as Reward, Focus, and Priority, located in the southeastern region of the United States participated in this study. The Inventory of Leadership Dispositional Behaviors Instrument was used to collect information regarding principal behavior, as perceived by principals, to be most critical to effective leadership.   Based on their experiences, participants were asked to indicate whether they believed each of the dispositions were (1) “somewhat important”, (2) “very important”, or (3) “ absolutely critical” in fostering teaching and learning and in helping students achieve.

Results indicated that principals valued the 16 dispositions and perceived that each were equally critical to effective leadership. There were no significant differences between or among the types of schools principals led and the dispositions they perceived as most critical. Additionally, the findings did not support that leadership dispositions significantly impacted student achievement. However, the conclusions from this study yielded four dispositions that were selected by the participants as most critical to effective leadership. Those dispositions were: (1) Integrity (2) Passion (3) Trust and (4) Ethics.

Having identified the top four dispositions that principals agreed were critical to effective leadership, this study could enhance the potential success of any leader in today’s schools. Understanding those dispositions and their influence is a start in the process of identifying dispositions that school leaders should possess. It can be concluded that the topic of leadership dispositions has the potential to significantly change the landscape of education.

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