Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Educational Policy Studies

First Advisor

Dr. Kristina Brezicha

Second Advisor

Dr. James Kahrs

Third Advisor

Dr. Kim McDermon


Student engagement has a significant impact on their school experiences and outcomes. Affective, behavioral, and cognitive engagement constructs work as interconnected components shaping students’ engagement. Considering the malleable nature of student engagement, possibilities exist to address this construct early thereby influencing the educational trajectory of students. Teacher efficacy, both individual and collective, impacts students’ engagement within schools. School leadership facilitates teacher efficacy through avenues such as instructional feedback, opportunities for collaboration, and shared decision making. This study’s purpose was to understand how the interactions between teachers and leaders facilitate teachers’ strong efficacy beliefs and how teacher’s influence students’ engagement in the classroom. This qualitative case study examined the engagement construct within two high-achieving elementary schools. Using distributed, transformational, and instructional leadership theories, this study examined practices of principals that support teacher efficacy and foster an environment that strengthens student engagement. Participants included teachers with strong efficacy as well as school leaders. Interviews with teachers and leaders, observations, and a review of artifacts identified school practices perceived to positively influence teacher efficacy as well as practices that promoted student engagement. Findings revealed participants demonstrated zeal through positive interactions with stakeholders. Secondly, perceptions confirmed the value of affirming and precise feedback from principals to promote strong efficacy beliefs. Thirdly, findings determined the importance of implementing customized supports for students’ emotional and academic needs to foster engagement. Implications exist for principals to consider how they demonstrate zeal through positive interactions within the school environment. Additionally, school leaders should consider their practices for providing feedback as well as promoting a focus on customized supports for each student. This study highlighted these considerations for leadership practices that promote efficacy and thereby improve student engagement.