Self-efficacy and instructional leadership: does mentoring make a difference?
The responsibility of principals has shifted significantly over the past few decades. During 1960s and 1970s school leaders were expected to be organizers and managers of schools and to serve as buffers to the organization to protect a weak technical core. Standards-based reform, beginning in the 1980s, was in direct conflict with this mindset. Instead of protecting a weak technical core, school leaders had to focus on instruction guided by standards and demonstrate alignment to such standards. Today, there is an increased attention on academic achievement and accountability in schools (Leithwood, Jantzi, & Steinbach, 1999). Principals are being held responsible for the quality of their teaching staff and the results of high stakes assessments. Mentoring programs for practicing principals are limited and those for aspiring principals are inconsistent. Given the changing role of the principal in public education, the researcher conducted this study to determine how mentoring impacts a principal's self-efficacy in instructional leadership. Data were collected through the use of a web-based quantitative survey. A sample size of 505 principals was captured. Principals were asked to characterize their mentoring experience and answer questions that identified their self-efficacy in instructional leadership categories. Data were analyzed using descriptive and inferential statistics, confirmatory factor analysis, and structural equation modeling. Major findings included the following: 1) Principals who were mentored had higher self-efficacy scores in each of the instructional leadership categories; culture, data, and enactment (school improvement, evaluation and curriculum; 2) Suburban school principals ranked their mentoring experiences at a higher level than urban or rural principals; 3) Principals who held doctoral degrees were more efficacious in all three instructional leadership categories; 4) Elementary principals were more efficacious in the use of data to improve instruction; 5) Principals who had served longer tenures had higher self-efficacy scores in building a positive school culture. The results of this research will contribute to the existing knowledge base about the effects of a mentoring program on instructional leadership self-efficacy and will be beneficial to school districts, college and university educational administration programs, and building leaders across the state.