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Date of Award


Document Type

Dissertation - Pacific Access Restricted

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)


Educational Administration and Leadership

First Advisor

Stephen Davis

First Committee Member

Dennis Brennan

Second Committee Member

Phyllis Hensley

Third Committee Member

Louis Wildman


Middle school education is fundamental to the lives of millions of adolescents. It is a time of great opportunity for stimulating cognitive, emotional, and psychosocial growth and development. At the same time, the middle school environment can exacerbate the problems that some students face. To this end, decisions by school administrators to promote nutritional health that positively influence the eating behaviors of students on campus are crucial to the learning environment. The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship of school principals and the nutritional environment of middle grade schools through an analysis of the affective, social, and educational factors that may contribute to dietary behavior among students. The research methodology for this study consisted of both quantitative and qualitative analysis. The quantitative population included all middle grade school principals (N = 40) in Kern County, California. Of that number, 68 percent of the principals responded to the survey. The qualitative interview sample (n = 8) consisted of principals selected from the survey population. An analysis of the findings indicated that the nutritional environment of the middle grade school depends on the quality of leadership employed by the principal. Approximately ninety percent of the principals surveyed felt they had inadequate training in nutritional health to integrate nutrition into the curriculum. Sixty-two percent believe they have minimal input into decisions regarding the sale of convenience foods and beverages on their individual campuses. Therefore, their leadership responsibility in the promotion of nutritional health among students does not go beyond that of an overseer. While most principals believe that school leadership and the promotion of nutritional health are interrelated, many principals allow the sale of convenience foods and beverages on their campuses. Clearly, there is inconsistency between what is believed and what is overtly practiced. The results from this study will enable stakeholders of middle grade school education to modify administrative policies and practices in nutrition health promotion.




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