Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Administrative Leadership

First Advisor

Gail T. Schneider

Committee Members

Bo Zhang, Thomas Joynt, Latish Reed, Leigh Wallace


Humor, Humor Style, Middle School, Principal, School Climate, Wisconsin


In an era of unsteady political climates, high stakes testing, stressful situations, and expectations of continuous improvement, today's middle school principals are in a precarious position. Middle school principals have to be involved in the community, seen as a leader at their school, seen as a curriculum leader by their staff, and a motivational coach by their students. Middle school principals' personality and interpersonal skills are even more important today. Therefore, a principal that uses humor may help to motivate students and staff and encourage a positive school climate.

Middle school principals can integrate many styles of leadership within their schools. Leadership styles exhibited by principals are vital in conveying and clarifying with parents, staff, and students. Humor can be used as a tool to improve school climate by reducing school tension felt by students, teachers, parents and community members.

The purpose of this study was to determine the relationship between middle school principals' humor style and teachers' perceptions of the school climate. The literature review revealed that the main topics of humor and school climate seem to give us a greater understanding of the effect of principal humor and its relationship with school climate. Humor and human nature are inexorably connected. Therefore, in part one, the literature review discusses theories of humor through human time and humor and its benefits. Part two delves into the interconnectedness of humor and leadership, while part three discusses the impact humor has on school climate.

This study included 48 public middle schools across the state of Wisconsin. Principals in each school where given the Humor Style Survey (Babad, 1974), while teachers were given the Organizational Climate Description Questionnaire-Revised for Middle Schools (OCDQ-RM) (Hoy & Sabo, 1998). The data were then analyzed to determine the relationship between the principals' humor style and the school climate. Descriptive and inferential statistics were used to analyze the data. Analysis of variance (ANOVA) was employed to statistically investigate the relationship between the variables. In testing the hypotheses, the level of significance was set at the .05 level. The major findings revealed a statistically significant relationship between principal humor style and school climate. It was concluded that principals that employed humor had schools with more open and healthy school climates. This illustrates that principals utilizing humor into their everyday interactions with students, teachers, parents, and community members have schools with better school climates. In this study, using humor has shown to be an effective way to create an open and healthy school climate.

Implications of this study include the positive use of humor by principals, school districts, and educational administration college programs. Administrators may improve their school climate by supporting staff through the use of humor. School districts may see an improvement in the school climate of a school if a conscious effort is used to utilize humor in each school. Further, educational administration programs and classes may benefit from examining the positive use of humor by future administrators.

Recommendations for further study include replication of this study in elementary, high schools, parochial, charter, or voucher schools, in other states or overseas would help broaden what is known about the complex relationship between principals' humor style and school climate. It may also prove useful to examine the relationship between principal humor style and school climate qualitatively.