Date of Conferral



Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)




Dr. Kathleen A. Bushman


The 28th annual MetLife survey of 1,001 American teachers in the United States indicated that low teacher morale is a common problem faced by many public schools. In one public elementary school located in a Southern state, the teacher attrition rate increased from 30% to 40% within 2 years. The purpose of this mixed method study was to investigate teachers' perceptions of morale and their perceived factors that influence low morale at the school. Maslow's theory of motivation was used to understand the impact of teacher satisfaction on teachers' morale and self-motivation for leading change. The research questions were focused on teachers' perceptions of morale, teachers' perceptions of factors that influence their morale, and teachers' suggestions of what could be done to improve their morale. Data were collected through surveys and interviews with 25 study participants who were selected via convenience and purposeful sampling. Descriptive statistics were conducted to describe the quantitative data. Qualitative data were analyzed for emergent themes. Data analysis showed that teacher morale was low. Teachers identified support, leadership, and motivation as factors that influenced their morale. They also suggested that support, leadership, and motivation could improve their morale. These identified factors were used to inform a 3-day professional development training focused on leading change and teacher leadership through participative leadership. Teaching participative leadership might promote positive morale for the principal and teachers. These actions could contribute to positive social change by building leadership capacity and sustaining high levels of morale among school personnel to increase student achievement and teacher retention.