Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Curriculum and Instruction

First Advisor

James Sweeney


The major purpose of this study was to examine participating rural Iowa secondary school principals' perceived self-efficacy for meeting the needs of at-risk students. Specifically, the study examined the following factors: the principals' levels of preparedness, self-efficacy, problem acceptance, student potential orientation, responsibility acceptance, and willingness to change to meet the needs of at-risk students; the relationship between selected demographic characteristics and the factors; and the factors associated with principals' willingness to change to meet the needs of at-risk students. Two hundred ninety-two principals from rural schools responded to a questionnaire. The majority of the respondents were males over 41 years of age, with Master's degrees, and sixteen or more years of experience;Data were analyzed using SPSS. Descriptive statistics, including frequencies, means, and standard deviations were computed for all the factors. Hypothesized relationships were evaluated using Pearson-product moment correlation coefficients, t-tests, analysis of variance procedures, and stepwise multiple regression. The results revealed that: a large percentage of the principals did not believe they could help at-risk students succeed, did not believe all students were capable of learning, and were not prepared to help the students succeed. Principals indicated an awareness of the at-risk problem in their school district and accepted responsibility for helping the students achieve success in school. They also indicated a very strong willingness to change their personal and professional practices to better meet the needs of the students. Younger and middle-aged school principals had stronger beliefs in students' potential to learn. Female principals believed they were more prepared to help at-risk students succeed and were more willing to change their personal and professional practices to help these students achieve success. The principals' years of experience and level of education made no difference in their beliefs about their ability to help at-risk students succeed. Significant relationships were found between principals' responsibility acceptance, self-efficacy, problem acceptance, and their willingness to change to help at-risk students succeed. There were also significant relationships found between the principals' beliefs in students' potential to learn, responsibility acceptance, and their self-efficacy; and between the principals' acceptance of the problem, responsibility acceptance, and their beliefs in students' potential to learn. Responsibility acceptance, self-efficacy, and problem acceptance were the strongest predictors of principals' willingness to change with responsibility acceptance contributing the most powerful influence.



Digital Repository @ Iowa State University,

Copyright Owner

Vera Lynette Banks Lang



Proquest ID


File Format


File Size

112 pages