Date of Award


Level of Access Assigned by Author

Campus-Only Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Educational Leadership


Gordon Donaldson

Second Committee Member

Theodore Coladarci

Third Committee Member

George Marnik

Additional Committee Members

William Davis

Sarah V. Mackenzie


The job of the principal is one of the most important and stressful in education. Difficulty retaining principals and recruiting new ones is frequently blamed on the amount of stress principals and others perceive in the work. The purpose of the study was to collect data on the reported stress levels of Maine principals and to examine the associations among those stress levels, work overload, role conflict, and self-efficacy.

Data collection was done through the 2001 Maine Principal Study, a survey sent to all Maine principals to elicit information on a wide range of workplace and background characteristics. Five hundred twelve surveys were returned, a response rate of 52%. Stress was measured by a single item on the survey: I find my job stressful. Three composite variables representing role conflict, work overload, and self-efficacy were determined to be reliable. Four research questions determined the levels of stress reported, the association of stress to role conflict, work overload, and self-efficacy, and the association of stress to background and worklife characteristics of principals. Principals were categorized into low, moderate, or high levels of stress on the basis of the stress item.

Results indicated that 82% of principals reported moderate or high stress. Work overload was also a major characteristic of principals' worklives. Stress was positively associated with work overload and role conflict. Self-efficacy was also high and statistically independent of stress.

Of significance to principals was the association of stress to worklife characteristics under their control, particularly the amount of time they spend at work. High stress principals reported seven hours more work each week than low stress principals. High stress principals reported facing greater challenges, more conflict and opposition, and greater dissatisfaction with rewards, conditions, and pay. Results suggest school districts and professional organizations improve awareness of stress and time management, review job descriptions to ensure "do-ability," promote the rewards of the job, and monitor hours beyond 50 per week for usefulness. Future researchers should examine the relationship of stress to specific work tasks, principal attrition, and subpopulations of principals with differing characteristics.