Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph. D.

Department (Legacy)

College of Education and Human Development

Committee Chair

Petrosko, Joseph M., 1947-

Author's Keywords

Risk taking; Culture; Innovation; Efficacy


Teachers--Attitudes; Risk-taking (Psychology); Educational innovations; Education--Experimental methods


This dissertation is an exploratory study of teacher risk taking. The risk-taking literature in education and other types of organizations is lacking in studies exploring the concept of healthy risk taking and how that risk taking is related to other concepts such as organizational culture, innovation, and efficacy. The purpose of this study was to explore the concept of teacher risk taking as it relates to teaching efficacy, school culture, and organizational support for innovation. The research design of this study utilized a five-section survey administered to 740 public and private school teachers from 53 schools in 9 Midwestern states. In addition, one open-ended question on teachers' own risk taking was examined to help inform and support the quantitative findings. Data were analyzed using correlations, ANOVAs, hierarchical regression analysis, and hierarchical linear modeling. Two results unique to the school level and HLM analyses pertained to average experience level of teachers in the school and proportion of non-white teachers in the school. Both had negative relationships with risk taking. Schools with relatively younger teachers had higher risk-taking scores. The inverse relationship between ethnicity and risk-taking at the school level meant that schools with more non-white teachers had relatively higher average scores in risk taking. The HLM analyses confirmed the results obtained in the OLS regression analyses at the school level. The HLM analyses were consistent with the analyses of risk performed by OLS regression analyses. At the individual level, the teacher's perception of environment and efficacy were both positively associated with risk. At the school level, the means on efficacy and environment were both positively associated with risk. The school average in years teaching was inversely related to risk. In addition, schools with a relatively higher proportion of non-white teachers were those with higher mean scores on risk.