Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Degree Granting Department

Educational Leadership

Major Professor

Zorka Karanxha, Ed.D.

Co-Major Professor

Tony Tan, Ed.D.

Committee Member

Tanetha Fisher, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Yi-hsin Chen, Ph.D.


mediating effects, organizational commitment, principals, psychological contract fulfillment, teachers


The purpose of this study was to examine how teachers’ psychological contract fulfillment (PCF) and organizational commitment (OC) mediated the effects of principals’ transformational school leadership (TSL) on students’ Gaokao performance in China by testing a hypothesized multilevel model. Survey data were collected online from 893 teachers at 10 public senior high schools in a city located in Northern China. The first city-wide mock Gaokao exam results were used as the indicator of students’ Gaokao performance. Data analysis techniques included correlational analysis, multiple regression analysis, confirmatory factor analysis, structural equation modeling analysis, and multilevel mediation analysis. Results indicated a relatively high level of principals’ TSL and teachers’ PCF, and a moderate level of teachers’ OC in the sample. Teachers’ demographic characteristics contributed to their perceptions of their principals’ transformational leadership style, their OC and their PCF. The confirmatory factor analysis results indicated excellent model fit of the hypothesized model. The multilevel mediation analysis results revealed that (1) Principals’ TSL had strong, direct, and positive effects on teachers’ OC, teachers’ PCF, and students’ mock Gaokao performance; (2) Teachers’ PCF negatively mediated the effect of principals’ TSL on students’ mock Gaokao performance; (3) Teachers’ OC positively mediated the effect of principals’ TSL on students’ mock Gaokao performance; (4) Teachers’ PCF positively impacted teachers’ OC. Findings from this study were consistent with the existing literature (i.e., the positive impact of teachers’ PCF on teachers’ OC, the mediating effect of teachers’ OC on the link between principals’ TSL on students’ academic achievement). Two findings are particularly noteworthy: first, the strong direct effect of principals’ TSL on students’ Gaokao performance, and second, the negative impact of teachers’ PCF on students’ Gaokao performance. Considering the limited evidence on the relationship between principals’ TSL and students’ academic achievement in Chinese educational settings so far, more empirical studies that utilize a wider range of mediating variables are warranted. Mixed-method and the qualitative studies that incorporate diverse perspectives may help uncover nuances in the relationship between principals’ TSL and students test performance. Moreover, the negative mediating effect of teachers’ PCF on the link between principals’ transformational school leadership and students’ Gaokao performance needs further investigation, and research on the unbalanced PCF perceived by teachers may be a starting point. In terms of implications for practice, policy makers may need to consider how to incorporate TSL practices into principals’ professional development programs. Meanwhile, principals need to carefully address and attend to teachers’ individual feelings and needs. More importantly, they need to figure out a way to effectively improve the level of teachers’ organizational commitment and decrease the unbalanced psychological contract fulfillment as perceived by teachers in the present study.