Education and Human Sciences, College of (CEHS)


First Advisor

Marilyn Grady

Date of this Version



A DISSERTATION Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Doctor of Education, Major: Educational Studies (Educational Leadership & Higher Education), Under the Supervision of Professor Marilyn Grady. Lincoln, Nebraska: December, 2016

Copyright 2016 Jill McCaslin-Timmons


Despite decades of literature on how school psychologists could be utilized to better meet needs in school, the way a school psychologist is used still varies and schools still admit that they have unmet needs. Teachers and administrators ask for more staff to help support student needs while taxpayers want to know why more staff are needed. The purpose of this study was to develop an understanding of principal perspectives on the roles and skills of school psychologists in order to better understand why roles vary, what barriers exist and what can be done to help both school psychologists and principals work together more efficiently and effectively to meet the needs of students, staff and families. This study was conducted in two phases. The first phase, the quantitative phase, involved an internet survey sent to principals in North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas. The survey questions were based on the roles school psychologists possess and the skills they are able to utilize according to the National Association of School Psychologists. There were 213 principals who participated in the survey. The second phase, a qualitative phase, involved interviews of principals. Although 43 principals indicated they would participate in the follow-up interviews only 26 were available for the interviews at the time of the study. The individuals volunteered to be interviewed following phase 1. Principals were from the states of South Dakota, Minnesota, Nebraska, Iowa, Oklahoma and Texas. Participants in both phases provided their perspectives on the roles and skills of school psychologists. The results indicate that school psychologists remain a largely untapped resource in schools. Both school psychologists and principals have a responsibility to make sure that school psychologists are using their skillset more effectively and efficiently to meet the needs of students, staff and families.

Advisor: Marilyn Grady