Document Type



Doctor of Education


Educational Leadership

First Adviser

Hochbein, Craig


Researchers, policy makers, and practitioners have been interested in how principals have spent their time since the professionalization of the principalship at the turn of the twentieth century. Findings across 100 years of research have suggested that modern day principals spend their time similarly to their predecessors. Despite seemingly homogeneous findings, gaps in the literature and methodological limitations, including small, unrepresentative samples and abbreviated observational periods, have warranted continued study of principal time use. The purpose of this study was to examine how principals outside large metropolis locales allocated their time and to analyze the relationships between principal time use and school context, including prior academic outcomes, school level, locale, and student demographics.Sixty-one principals from 20 school districts in eastern Pennsylvania enrolled in the study. Participants received five randomly-timed notifications a day asking them to complete a survey on their current activity. In addition, the participants also reported the professional standard that defined the nature of their activity, their location, the stakeholders with whom they were interacting, whether the activity was anticipated, and whether they initiated the activity. The study ran Mondays through Fridays for the month of October in 2017.Overall, the findings revealed that the sampled principals spent their time evenly distributed between instructional, organizational, and relational activities. Most often in the company of others, principals spent the highest proportion of their time in the office. Contrary to previous research, the sampled principals anticipated and initiated the majority of their activities. Two-level hierarchical linear and nonlinear growth models revealed trends in principal time use during a typical fall day, as well as differences between days of the week. School level, locale, and total student enrollment significantly explained variation across the trends in principal time use. Improved understanding of how principals spent their time and the relationship between time and school context offered the potential to impact principal practice, principal preparation programs, and future principal time use research.