New York: Personal values of students are often influenced by school Principals and become more similar to those of them with time, a new study has found, says IANS. The findings indicate that principals’ values are linked with aspects of school climate which are, in turn, linked with students’ own values.
“Given the vast amount of time children spend in school, it is important to assess the impact that schools have on children, beyond their impact on children’s academic skills. Our findings show that schools contribute to the formation of children’s values,” said Yair Berson, Researcher at the New York University.
For the study published in the journal Psychological Science, the researchers collected data from 252 school Principals, over 3,600 teachers and almost 50,000 students in public elementary and secondary schools.
Focusing on four categories of values – self-enhancement, self-transcendence, openness to change, and conservation – school Principals filled out a questionnaire in which they read statements about a hypothetical individual and rated how closely they aligned with their own values.
At the same time, students completed age-appropriate measures that tapped into the same values. The students completed values measures again two-years later. Teachers also rated the degree to which students in their homeroom displayed various behaviors that reflected the same values.
The researchers found that students’ values became more similar to those of their Principal over the two-year study period. “Principals’ personal outlook on life is reflected in the overall school atmosphere, which over time becomes reflected in school children’s personal outlook and eventual behavior,” said Shaul Oreg, Researcher at the Cornell University.
This pattern was consistent for all of the values except for one: conservation values. “Values that have to do with maintaining the status quo – emphasizing tradition, conformity and security – showed a different pattern, whereby Principals’ values are associated with children’s values, but without the mediating role of the school climate,” Oreg added. Ultimately, determining whether Principals’ influence on students’ values is good or bad will be up to the individual observer, the study suggests.