• A Quantitative Study Examining Perceptions of Preparedness Among Entry-Level Student Affairs Professionals for an Active Shooter Event on Campus

      Ingoldsby, Carrie; Tift College of Education
      This quantitative, exploratory study examined perceptions of preparedness among entry-level student affairs professionals for an active shooter event (ASE) on campus. Institutions of higher education (IHE) have experienced an uptick of deadly and destructive ASEs in the last two decades. Colleges and universities vary on whether they provide consistent active shooter training to faculty, staff and/or students at all, as well as what level of training and type of training is provided, despite personal safety concerns. A total of 173 entry-level student affairs professionals completed the Entry-Level Student Affairs Professional Active Shooter Preparedness Survey (ELASPS). Spearman’s rank order correlation, t-tests, and ANOVA were utilized to examine perceptions of preparedness and level of efficacy to respond to an ASE in relation to individual and institutional demographics, as well as frequency, type, and content of active shooter training provided to entry-level student affairs professionals. Participants also provided open-ended data on perceptions of preparedness for an ASE, which was examined in relation to quantitative findings. Results indicated that entry-level student affairs professionals who received any amount or type of active shooter training had significantly higher perceived preparedness for an ASE and significantly higher levels of efficacy to respond to an ASE than did entry-level professionals who had no active shooter training. Thus, IHE should provide active, regular, and in-depth training such as drills, exercises, and simulations to allow ELSAP to feel more prepared and experience higher levels of efficacy to respond to an ASE. This study supports current research on active shooter preparedness and presents a strong case to administrators at IHE for the development and implementation of consistent and interactive active shooter training for entry-level student affairs professionals. Future research should focus on a specific area among entry-level student affairs professionals, such as residence life professionals, who are more often involved in direct student training of safety policies and procedures. Additionally, future studies might consider historically and underrepresented populations to better understand connections of ethnicity and perceived preparedness for an ASE.
    • Job Expectancy, Burnout, and Departure: Predictors of High School Principal Turnover

      Ross, Tara; Tift College of Education
      Among the many new educational challenges resulting from COVID-19 and existing learning deficits of students in underserved communities, districts and policymakers must address the school disruption caused by constant principal turnover. Extensive empirical studies on principal turnover continually show that transiting leaders impact staff and students at similar rates each year, further widening the gaps in performance for select subgroups of students and the careers of these leaders. The purpose of this study was to examine the causes of principal turnover in relation to those who stay and leave public education after one and three years with a focus on high school principals from a large metropolitan district in a southwestern region of the United States. The researcher aggregated district and school-level certified personnel data of 339 from approximately 2000 school principals through 2017-2020. The data were compiled into two categories: (a) staying on or leaving the job after one year and (b) staying on the job or leaving after three years. Using binomial logistic regression design, the researcher determined the extent that principals leave their schools based on individual and collective influences in the profession. The construct of job embeddedness was used to define the voluntary principal turnover behaviors for multiple years. The analysis showed a decrease in the principals who stayed at the same school from one to three years, with key variables such as the principal’s age, gender, and subordinate leaders predicting their intent to remain with the institution. The impact takes three to five years to improve the school or return student performance to a certain level. Furthering students’ educational path requires the district and school leaders to develop systematic and supportive processes to decrease principal turnover rate, particularly with minority student populations and inexperienced school leaders. Preventing and predicting involuntary principal turnover is necessary to increase and sustain the achievement and school climates conducive for favorable working and learning conditions. Recommendations included systematic efforts for national, state, and district retention initiatives, ongoing professional development on school improvement cycles, coaching for principals beyond their first two years, and greater autonomy at the school level.
    • Manager in the Middle: A View of Strategic Planning in Higher Education from the Middle Management Perspective

      Flanders, Kimberly Sharron; Tift College of Education
      Strategic planning is a process that can assist institutions in responding to and preparing for the myriad changes in higher education; however, a lack of communication and other challenges can hinder institutions’ ability to effectively engage in the process. Because middle managers serve as liaisons between organizational leadership and front-line staff, this transcendental phenomenological investigation sought to understand the experiences of middle managers in the strategic planning process through the lens of path-goal theory. Criterion and snowball sampling were used to identify twelve middle managers to participate in semi-structured, topical interviews. The data were analyzed utilizing the modified Van Kaam method of analysis of phenomenological data to develop a description of the phenomenon. Findings from this investigation indicated that middle managers experienced strategic planning as a top-down process implemented with a team approach and the goal of benefiting students and the institution. The participants shared that they would like to be included in strategic planning discussions early in the process to help shape institutional priorities and actions based on their experiences with students, parents, and other stakeholders. Additionally, the participants agreed that their teams should be included in the strategic planning process to garner more buy-in and to provide a robust breadth of knowledge and experience in the discussions. The middle managers in this study also noted that the attitude of the leadership and support from an institutional research, or similar, office impacted their experience with the strategic planning process. Strategic planning leaders can utilize the information gleaned from this study to more effectively engage middle managers in the process, such as by providing trainings and early involvement. Future research in this area should study middle managers working at different types of institutions and should include more faculty participants.