Award Date


Degree Type


Degree Name

Executive Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership


Educational Leadership

First Committee Member

Teresa S. Jordan

Second Committee Member

James Crawford

Third Committee Member

James Hager

Fourth Committee Member

Jacqueline Mayfield

Fifth Committee Member

Milton Mayfield

Sixth Committee Member

LeAnn Putney

Number of Pages



This study implemented a Sequential Transformative Mixed Methods design with teachers (as recipients) and principals (to give voice) in the examination of principal talk in two different school accountability contexts (Continuously Improving and Continuously Zigzag) using the conceptual framework of Motivating Language Theory. In phase one, teachers were surveyed using the ML Toolbox. The survey was administered using the Dillman Tailored Design Method, and the return rate was 67.48%. The major findings that emerged were: (a) significant differences in Motivating Language (ML), Direction-Giving Language (DG), Empathetic Language (E), and Communication Competence (CC) variables between the Continuously Improving and Zigzag Clusters; (b) no significant differences in Meaning-Making (MM) Language, Communication Satisfaction (CS), Job Satisfaction (JS), and Worker Performance (WP) variables between the Continuously Improving and Zigzag Clusters, and (c) Exploratory Factor Analysis (EFA) yielded four factors. The factors were Empathetic, Direction Giving, and Meaning Making, with a previously unidentified factor of Guidance. In phase two, the collection of qualitative data was gathered from principals purposefully selected from the two clusters of schools. The interview protocol contained questions from a review of literature, the eight factor analysis items, and scripted data from observations of principals engaged in principal-to-teacher talk. The major themes that consistently emerged from principals' talk were: (a) the strategic use of praise, (b) the connection of talk and written media, (c) a high level of administrative expectations, (d) an emphasis on collaborative practices, (e) the use of leader initiated structures, (f) the use of Direction-Giving Language to communicate administrative expectations, (g) the use of distributed leadership, (h) a system of data-driven goals and cycle of continuous improvement, (i) instructionally focused leadership, (j) a family-oriented school culture, and (k) the use of clarifying questions across all Motivating Language constructs. These themes emerged differently across the two achievement clusters of schools.


Academic achievement; Educational leadership; Motivating language; Motivating language theory; Principal Leadership; Principal talk; School principals; Sequential transformative; Student achievement; Teacher-principal relationships


Communication | Educational Leadership

File Format


Degree Grantor

University of Nevada, Las Vegas




IN COPYRIGHT. For more information about this rights statement, please visit