The development and validation of an instrument to measure selected support staff's perception of school climate

Willingham, Francena
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The purpose of this exploratory study was to develop and validate a climate instrument to assess selected support staff perceptions of the St. Joseph School District in St. Joseph, Missouri. The instrument designed specifically for this study contained 9 scales consisting of four to eleven items to assess support staff opinions in the following dimensions: (1) work environment, (2) goal orientation, (3) esprit, (4) cohesiveness, (5) expectations, (6) administrator dedication and enthusiasm, (7) student attitudes, (8) support staff attitudes, and (9) teacher attitudes. The final question requested a response to the overall work/learning climate. Items were written to represent various conditions of school climate. The version of the questionnaire that was field tested contained 64 items on a Likert scale format;Present climate instruments rarely address the support staff, an essential adult population, who serves as support and service personnel for the school. There are virtually no instruments for measuring opinions to obtain attitudes toward climate from support staff in a school environment. Research on support staff perceptions of school climate is inadequate;The sample consisted of 67 clerical personnel, 66 paraprofessionals, 95 food service personnel, 13 bus drivers, and 114 maintenance personnel. All data were analyzed using the Statistical Package for the Social Sciences(SPSS-X) computer program. Research questions on the technical qualities of the instrument revealed that it was a reliable and valid multidimensional assessment of school climate. Factor analysis extracted six dimensions for the final version of the instrument: (1) general attitudes, (2) administrator dedication and enthusiasm, (3) task variety, (4) esprit, (5) relationship, and (6) work challenge. The study's six hypotheses were tested statistically utilizing the one-way ANOVA for the first four hypotheses, Pearson product-moment correlations and multiple regression for the fifth, and canonical correlation analysis for the sixth. For the ANOVAs, the Duncan multiple comparison procedure was used as a follow-up test of means that were significant. The.05 level of significance was used for all six hypotheses;After the data analyses, major findings observed revealed: (1) bus drivers and maintenance personnel perceived climate significantly lower, (2) support staff located in the high schools perceived school climate significantly lower than the elementary schools' support staff on all dimensions, (3) perceptions of goal orientation, esprit, and cohesiveness had a significant impact on the perception of overall climate, and (4) years of service and gender were related to perceptions of climate. Recommendations for future research and practice are discussed.

School management and organization, Professional studies in education, Education (Educational administration)