The impact of school change on teacher perceptions of school climate

Shayne Lea McKinsey, Fordham University


This study was designed to explore the impact on school climate of 2 schools experiencing a major change. Specifically, this investigation offered possible explanations for decreased school climate ratings of teachers in these transitioning schools. School climate has been defined as “the enduring characteristics that describe the psychological character of a particular school, distinguish it from other schools and influence the behavior of teachers and students” (Sergiovanni & Starratt, 1993, p, 108). In a study conducted by Brickman and Cancelli (1997), results indicated that teacher perceptions of their school climates in transitioning schools were lower than that of their colleagues in similar, non-transitioning schools. The present study investigated 3 possible explanations for this phenomenon. First, the study examined whether the number of years in teaching was related to teacher perceptions of school climate in transitioning schools. Second, the study examined how school climate ratings may be differently impacted in transitioning schools with regard to instrumental and expressive characteristics. Instrumental actions are clarify and maintain goal in relation to the external environment and provide the necessary material for support to accomplish group and organizational tasks. Expressive actions promote positive feelings among group members, motivate group members, and maintain cohesion. Finally, an analysis was conducted to determine whether the types of classroom climates teachers report vary in relation to the way they rate school climate across transitioning and non-transitioning schools. Results indicated that teachers in transitioning schools rated their school climates lower than their colleagues in non-transitioning settings across both instrumental and expressive characteristics of school climate. While there was a main effect for school type, there was no main effect for years of teaching experience with regard to the way teachers rated school climates. Additionally, teachers who rated relationships in their classrooms as a priority also rated school climates higher, irrespective of school type. However, highly task-oriented teachers rated transitioning school climates lower than any other type of teacher.

Subject Area

Educational psychology

Recommended Citation

McKinsey, Shayne Lea, "The impact of school change on teacher perceptions of school climate" (2002). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI3056148.