Jingtong Dou

Date of Award

Spring 2022

Document Type

Open Access Dissertation


Educational Leadership and Policies

First Advisor

Rose Ylimaki


The challenge of teacher retention in rural schools is significant for many reasons, not the least of which is that teacher retention problems have been found to be negatively associated with school performances (Ronfeldt, Loeb, & Wyckoff, 2013; Tran & Dou, 2019). Teachers’ job satisfaction is closely related to teacher retention, both of which have been linked to students’ long-term learning outcomes (Chetty, Friedman, & Rockoff, 2014). Principals’ support for teachers has been frequently identified as the most important factor influencing teachers’ job satisfaction and retention (Ladd, 2011). Particularly in rural schools, leadership support, autonomy, professional development, and participation among stakeholders are the most important school level variables in determining the success of teacher retention and job satisfaction (Day et al., 2000; Darling-Hammond, 1999c; Hanushek, 2011f; Hattie, 2008e; OECD, 2018a; OCED, 2019b). However, few studies have examined the influence of perceived leadership support on teachers’ job satisfaction. Therefore, my study explored the influence of school leadership on teacher job satisfaction according to the perceptions of teachers. The purpose of this study was to examine the relationships among school leadership support and teacher perceptions of job satisfaction in rural schools. The study was conducted in two parts. First, this study examines how teachers’ perceived leadership support operates as determinants of teachers’ job satisfaction through a Confirmatory Factor Analysis (CFA) and Structural Equation Modeling (SEM) models. Second, a qualitative approach has been conducted to explore more details on the perceptions of teachers. I interviewed 12 rural teachers in the United States, and 12 rural teachers in China. While investigating particularly at teachers’ perceptions on leadership support and its relationship links to job satisfaction, I compared the perceived leadership support to explore in what ways school leaders can support teachers and improve the teachers’ job satisfaction. I made recommendations and created a nascent comparative framework that links leadership practices and rural teachers’ perceptions of job satisfaction.