Purdue University Graduate School
Jodi Day 2023.4.27 2.0.pdf (1006.94 kB)

Baby Boomers, Gen X, Millennials, and Gen Z Teachers: A Comparison of Generational Preferences for Leadership Practices

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posted on 2023-04-28, 20:34 authored by Jodi DayJodi Day

 The current educational workforce is made up of baby boomers, Generation Xers, millennials, and Generation Zers. Research on generational theory reflects variations in characteristics, work preferences and values among generations, yet there is little known whether teachers from these various generations need differing leadership practices to perform their best. This quantitative study utilized a cross sectional survey design collecting data from 502 Indiana teachers to identify the need teachers place on principals’ leadership behaviors and determine if any significant differences exist based on their generation, gender, the type of community they grew up in or the type of community where they currently teach.  Utilizing Kouzes and Posner’s (1985) Leadership Practices Inventory, participants rated their need for 30 leadership behaviors on a 10-point Likert scale. Overall, teachers from all groups rated they needed principals to exhibit leadership practice enabling others to act the highest with an overall mean score of 8.75 (SD=1.20) followed by modeling the way (M=8.40, SD=1.29), encouraging others (M=8.28, 1.46), challenging the process (M=7.63, SD=1.46), and lastly inspiring a shared vision (M=7.50, SD=1.57). Conducting an independent t-test to compare the means of gender groups and a one-way ANOVA to compare generations, community types and building types resulted in no significant differences in teachers’ need for leadership practices. The results of this study reinforce Kouzes and Posner’s five practices of exemplary leaders as relevant across generations yet leaves open questions for future study on how principals can capitalize on the strengths various generations bring to the school family. 


Degree Type

  • Doctor of Philosophy


  • Educational Studies

Campus location

  • West Lafayette

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee Chair

Alice Johnson

Additional Committee Member 2

Marilynn Hirth

Additional Committee Member 3

Richard Olenchak

Additional Committee Member 4

LaMonica Williams

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