Dissertations and Theses @ UNI

Award Winner

Recipient of the 2023 Outstanding Doctoral Dissertation Award - Second Place.

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Open Access Dissertation


Teachers--Selection and appointment--Iowa; Rural schools--Employees--Selection and appointment--Iowa;


Relatively little is known regarding how Iowa public school principals conduct hiring and selection of their teachers. While there is national research that has a focus on these areas, this research is generally conducted in large urban settings outside of the context of smaller rural schools. It is widely accepted and empirically backed that classroom teachers have the biggest impact on student achievement (Boyd et al., 2007; Cranston, 2012; DeStefano, 2002; Gordon et al., 2006; Ingebrand, 2012). Yet there is a gap in the research identifying why and how Iowa public school principals hire and select while assessing this most important variable for student success.

The purpose of this study was to examine the criteria and qualities principals look for in teachers, why these are important to them, selection and hiring practices utilized, and bias and vagaries that may exist in the current system. This study utilized a mixed methods approach that incorporated both quantitative survey data as well as qualitative interviews of selected participants. The population of this study was Iowa public school principals in districts with less than 1000 students.

The study utilized two data sets from the sample principal population. The quantitative data set was gathered through a survey of thirty items that focused on qualities and criteria of teacher hiring and practices and strategies used in the process. The qualitative data was obtained through ten principal interviews from the sample population that gave context and further depth to the survey data through their authentic lived experiences. The two sets of data were then analyzed through triangulation to develop conclusions and recommendations for practice.

The conclusions of this study found that principals in the sample group are hiring teachers aligned with person-organization fit and caring student relationships. The principals are making decisions using traditional hiring practices such as paper material review, interviews, and references. The current practices would also suggest that innovation in hiring around research practice is limited and there exists several areas where bias and vagaries are reducing the validity and reliability of the teacher hiring processes. Overall, principal hiring practices did show positive and effective strategies being used but not maximized. Relationships with students and colleagues are valued in hiring, but ability to raise student achievement is largely ignored. The results of the study provided a wealth of additional ideas for improved practice and future research.

Year of Submission


Year of Award

2023 Award

Degree Name

Doctor of Education


Department of Educational Psychology, Foundations, and Leadership Studies

First Advisor

Timothy Gilson, Committee Chair

Date Original


Object Description

1 PDF file (viii, 171 pages)



File Format