Date of Submission


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Psychology (PsyD)



Department Chair

Robert A. DiTomasso, Ph.D., ABPP

First Advisor

Terri Erbacher. Ph.D., Chairperson

Second Advisor

George McCloskey, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Ethel Cwibeker, Psy.D.


This study assessed the role that principal modeling has on influencing teachers’ classroom styles and behaviors. Teachers differ in the degree to which they employ autonomy supporting or controlling behaviors. The degree to which teachers demonstrate autonomy supportive behaviors has a direct effect on the level of autonomous motivation demonstrated by students. This is because students are more likely to develop self-determined motivation in a social environment which provides support for autonomy (Deci, Vallerand, Pelletier and Ryan, 1991). Higher levels of student autonomy is associated with a lower school drop out rate (Vallerand, 1997) and higher levels of academic achievement (Vansteenkiste, Simon, Lens, Soenens & Matos, 2005). There are a number of theories as to why teachers may choose to employ a more controlling classroom style. These include the pressure of high stakes testing (Ryan and Laguardia, 1999) as well as the prevalence of more controlling methods taught in teacher training programs (Reeve, 2009). The current study explored the influence which school principals’ and administrators’ attitudes towards autonomy and control are adapted by classroom teachers through the process of modeling. The study also examined the role of demographic factors in influencing teachers’ classroom styles.