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Article
Publication date: 23 November 2017

Philip Hallinger, Donnie Adams, Alma Harris and Michelle Suzette Jones

Over the past several decades, instructional leadership has gradually gained increasing currency as a key role of school principals throughout much of the world. This is…

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Abstract

Purpose

Over the past several decades, instructional leadership has gradually gained increasing currency as a key role of school principals throughout much of the world. This is also the case in Malaysia where educational research, policy and practice have brought the instructional leadership role of the principal front and center. The purpose of this paper is to assess the conceptual models, research methods, and foci of scholars in the study of principal instructional leadership in Malaysia over the past 30 years.

Design/methodology/approach

Systematic methods were used to identify all studies conducted in Malaysia that had used the Principal Instructional Management Rating Scale (PIMRS) (Hallinger, 1982/1990/2015) as the data collection instrument. This search yielded a database of 120 studies completed between 1989 and 2016 written in both English and Bahasa Malay. Common data were extracted from the 120 research reports, coded and entered into a MS Excel spreadsheet for analysis. Quantitative methods were employed to analyze modal trends and synthesize patterns in the data across the studies.

Findings

The search identified 120 PIMRS studies, 90 percent of which had been conducted since 2005. This represented a surprisingly large corpus of studies. Over 75 percent of the Malaysian studies of principal instructional leadership had been conducted as graduate (master and doctoral) theses, relatively few of which had achieved publication in journals. The authors’ analysis found that most studies had used lower order (i.e. bivariate, direct effects) conceptual models and relied heavily on descriptive and simple correlational statistical tests. The lack of consistent results within the database of studies was attributed largely to limitations in research design and quality.

Research limitations/implications

The 120 PIMRS studies conducted in Malaysia comprise a surprisingly large corpus of research on principal instructional leadership. Indeed, the Malaysian corpus is second only to the USA in terms of the number of PIMRS studies of principal instructional leadership. Nonetheless, limitations in the research models and methods employed in these studies suggest a need for stronger methodological training before Malaysian scholars can achieve the goal of contributing useful knowledge to the local and global knowledge base. Specific recommendations are offered for strengthening the quality of research.

Social implications

The recent expansion of higher education in Malaysia – like other developing societies – has yielded progress in the scope of research production. However, numerous challenges remain in transforming the potential for useful knowledge production from graduate research into reality.

Originality/value

This is the first review of research on principal leadership conducted in Malaysia. The review follows efforts by scholars to systematically identify the boundaries of knowledge in educational leadership and management within East Asian societies (e.g. China, Singapore, Vietnam, Taiwan and Hong Kong). Moreover, this is the first review of research that examines the use of the PIMRS in a single society.

Details

Journal of Educational Administration, vol. 56 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0957-8234

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Article
Publication date: 10 April 2017

Philip Hallinger, Allan Walker, Dao Thi Hong Nguyen, Thang Truong and Thi Thinh Nguyen

Worldwide interest in principal instructional leadership has led to global dissemination of related research findings despite their concentration in a limited set of…

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Abstract

Purpose

Worldwide interest in principal instructional leadership has led to global dissemination of related research findings despite their concentration in a limited set of western cultural contexts. An urgent challenge in educational leadership and management lies in expanding the range of national settings for investigations of instructional leadership. The current study addressed this challenge in the context of Vietnam, a nation with a very limited formal knowledge base in school leadership (Hallinger and Bryant, 2013b; Hallinger and Truong, 2014). The purpose of this paper is to describe the perspectives of Vietnamese primary school principals toward their role as instructional leaders, illuminate instructional leadership practices perceived as important by the principals, and develop a preliminary model of instructional leadership within the Vietnamese education context.

Design/methodology/approach

This study was a qualitative inquiry that sought to illuminate the perspectives of Vietnamese principals toward their role as instructional leaders. The research employed semi-structured interviews with 27 primary school principals. Data analysis employed grounded theory in order to synthesize results gathered from the principals into a preliminary conceptual model.

Findings

The study yielded a preliminary model of principal instructional leadership in Vietnam. The authors’ model evidences similarities to western models of instructional leadership by including dimensions focusing on setting direction, managing curriculum and instruction and developing the school learning climate. Differences also emerged in terms of two additional constructs, building solidarity and managing external relationships. Other distinctive practices of Vietnamese instructional leaders also emerged in the findings which the authors suggest can be linked to the institutional, political and socio-cultural context of education in this society.

Research limitations/implications

Key limitations arise from the focus on primary schools, small size of the sample, absence of data from the Northern region of Vietnam, and lack of verification of principals’ perspectives with data from other stakeholders.

Originality/value

This study is one of the first empirical studies of Vietnamese school leadership submitted for publication in international refereed journals and the first study that has that sought to conceptualize the instructional leadership role of principals in Vietnam. Moreover, the study illustrates how conceptualizations of school leadership are shaped by features of specific societies. This lends credence to scholarly admonitions concerning the lack of universality of leadership theories.

Details

Journal of Educational Administration, vol. 55 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0957-8234

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Article
Publication date: 9 April 2018

Hảo Thi Nguyễn, Philip Hallinger and Chia Wen Chen

The purpose of this paper is to add to an emerging literature on educational leadership and management in Vietnam by addressing several goals. First, the study sought to…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to add to an emerging literature on educational leadership and management in Vietnam by addressing several goals. First, the study sought to translate, adapt, and validate an existing measurement instrument, the Principal Instructional Management Rating Scale (PIMRS) Teacher Form, for use in Vietnam. Next, it aimed to describe patterns of instructional leadership evidenced among a sample of urban and rural primary school principals. Then, the researchers examined if these patterns of principal instructional leadership could be linked to one or more “antecedent variables”: school size, school location (urban/rural), principal’s gender and prior teaching experience. Finally, the paper sought insights from principals and teachers on how instructional leadership could be strengthened in the Vietnamese education context.

Design/methodology/approach

Both quantitative survey and qualitative methods were used in this study. The sample consisted of 569 teachers and 117 principals working in 117 primary schools located in Ho Chi Minh province of Vietnam. Data collection employed a translated and adapted Vietnamese language form of the PIMRS Teacher Form. An open-ended question posed to both teachers and principals was included in the survey instrument to gather recommendations for strengthening instructional leadership in Vietnam. The research used Rasch analysis, Cronbach’s test of internal consistency, confirmatory factor analysis, t-tests, and analysis of variance in data analysis.

Findings

The research achieved a preliminary validation of a Vietnamese language Teacher Form of the PIMRS. The analysis of PIMRS data gathered from teachers found that the primary school principals were perceived to be exercising instructional leadership at a surprisingly high level. Consistent with international research findings, selected evidence indicated stronger instructional leadership from the female principals, though the pattern was not strong. None of the other antecedents evidenced a significant relationship with patterns of principal instructional leadership. A number of overlapping recommendations were made by teachers and principals for strengthening instructional leadership in Vietnam.

Research limitations/implications

Although a Teacher Form of the PIMRS Vietnam was successfully validated, follow-up studies should be conducted with both the Teacher Form and Principal Form of this instrument. More broadly, the high scores on the PIMRS accorded to the principals in this study were deemed “surprising” in light of the lack of prior policy focus and training on this role of the principal in Vietnam. Thus, the authors recommend that this research be extended to a larger cross-level study of schools from different parts of Vietnam in order to provide additional confirmation of these preliminary findings.

Practical implications

Feedback from principals and teachers indicated a need for system leaders to articulate instructional leadership more explicitly as part of the principal’s role set in Vietnam. Only then will it become part of the formal expectations that shape principals’ practice and the preparation and professional development programs in which they participate. The principals also suggested that instructional leadership could be strengthened by enabling model principals to share instructional leadership practices with colleagues. Finally, teachers and principals highlighted the need to broaden, legitimate, and strengthen sources of instructional leadership within the school beyond the principal. These suggestions are not only consistent with policy actions taken in other societies, but are also grounded in the context of education in Vietnam.

Originality/value

The first internationally published study of educational leadership and management in Vietnam only appeared in 2012. In the succeeding years, several qualitative studies have emerged describing principal leadership practices in a handful of schools. The current study represents the first published quantitative study of school leadership from Vietnam. Although the results are preliminary in nature, the study provides both baseline data on principal instructional leadership and a validated instrument that can be used in future research.

Details

International Journal of Educational Management, vol. 32 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-354X

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Article
Publication date: 7 June 2019

Jasna Kovačević and Philip Hallinger

The purpose of this paper is to quantitatively document and synthesize the knowledge base on leading school change and improvement (LSCI).

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to quantitatively document and synthesize the knowledge base on leading school change and improvement (LSCI).

Design/methodology/approach

The authors employed bibliometric analysis to evaluate 1,613 SCOPUS-indexed documents on LSCI published between 1960 and the end of 2017. In addition to descriptive analysis of basic features of the knowledge base, the review also employed citation and co-citation analyses of authors, journals and documents. Author co-citation analysis (ACA) was used reveal the intellectual structure of the LSCI literature.

Findings

The growth trajectory of LSCI research began with low levels of publication during the 1960s and 1970s, followed by steady and then accelerating growth in subsequent decades. Citation analyses highlighted key journals, authors and documents in this field, while ACA identified four research streams or Schools of Thought that comprise the LSCI knowledge base: transformational leadership for school improvement, instructional leadership for school improvement, shared leadership for change and school improvement, school improvement.

Originality/value

The review offers empirical documentation of the changing intellectual structure of the one of the key lines of inquiry that emerged in the field of educational administration over the past six decades. More broadly, the review illustrates the benefits of bibliometric analysis as a tool capable of illuminating critical features that bear upon knowledge accumulation in a line of inquiry, or a broader discipline.

Details

Journal of Educational Administration, vol. 57 no. 6
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0957-8234

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Article
Publication date: 10 April 2017

Philip Hallinger and Allan Walker

The purpose of this paper is to synthesize findings from studies of principal instructional leadership conducted in five East Asian societies. The authors first identify…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to synthesize findings from studies of principal instructional leadership conducted in five East Asian societies. The authors first identify similarities and then differences in approaches to instructional leadership across the societies. Then the findings of the synthesis are compared with broad findings from the global literature on principal instructional leadership.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper employs a thematic approach to synthesizing findings from the five qualitative studies.

Findings

The authors identified numerous similarities in practices of instructional leadership across the five societies. These included first, a top-down approach to defining the mission and goals of schools whereby principals worked within a fairly narrow zone of discretion. Second, principals devoted relatively little attention to coordinating the curriculum due to working within strict national curriculum frameworks. Third, principals executed their instructional leadership practices with an ever-present sense of the need to honor hierarchical relations and maintain harmony among staff and other stakeholders. Differences across the five societies centered on the extent to which the instructional leadership role of principals was explicitly defined and the extent to which they received training for the role.

Originality/value

This synthesis sought to build upon reviews of research published in a special issue of this journal two years ago. The synthesis and this body of research papers have contributed toward moving empirical research on educational leadership broadly, and instructional leadership in particular, forward in East Asia.

Details

Journal of Educational Administration, vol. 55 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0957-8234

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Article
Publication date: 27 July 2020

Dhirapat Kulophas and Philip Hallinger

Research on school leadership has confirmed that principals influence teacher and student learning by building an “academic-focused ethos” in their schools. In this study…

Abstract

Purpose

Research on school leadership has confirmed that principals influence teacher and student learning by building an “academic-focused ethos” in their schools. In this study, our objective was to examine if and how the learning-centered leadership of principals influenced academic optimism of teachers and the resulting effects on their engagement in professional learning. More specifically, we examined this hypothesized set of leadership effects among teachers and principals in high schools located in Thailand.

Design/methodology/approach

The study was conducted with 1,763 teachers and 152 principals from 159 randomly selected, medium size secondary schools located in Thailand. The research employed multi-level structural equation modeling and bootstrapping analyses in order to test and explore these relationships in a mediation model of school leadership effects on teacher professional learning through academic optimism.

Findings

Results of this study reinforce prior research which has found that principal leadership can have significant direct and indirect effects on the professional learning of teachers. This finding is important because, as elaborated earlier, scholars believe that teacher professional learning is a key to sustainable improvement in schools. More specifically, our results extend prior research in two ways. First, as the first study to link Learning-Centered Leadership with Academic Optimism, this study extends findings that point to the role of school leadership in sustaining a culture of academic optimism in schools. Second, this study also established Academic Optimism as a mediator through which school leadership supports Teacher Professional Learning.

Research limitations/implications

Although our results support a positive conclusion concerning the effects of school leadership and academic optimism on teacher learning, this was a cross-sectional study. Therefore, caution must be exercised before drawing causal attributions. For example, research has also found that teachers who work in schools that evidence features of a professional learning community are more likely to have a greater sense of collective teacher efficacy, a variable that is also associated with Academic Optimism. Therefore, although our study proposed Academic Optimism as the mediator and teacher professional learning as the dependent variable, it is also possible that this relationship could be reversed or reciprocal (i.e. mutually reinforcing). Future research should continue to examine these possibilities using longitudinal and/or experimental research designs that enable clearer delineation of causal relationships. We also suggest the utility of qualitative and mixed methods studies capable of exploring in greater depth the mechanisms through which school leadership contributes to productive teacher learning.

Practical implications

There is a need in Thailand, and elsewhere, to redefine the formal roles and professional standards of school leaders to include learning-centered practices. These standards should be embedded into the redesign of pre-service and in-service education programs for teachers and principals. We believe that, at present, relatively few school leaders in Thailand genuinely understand the meaningful impact they can have on teacher learning, and by extension, on student learning. Thus, there is a need for systemic change that recasts the nature of leadership expected from principals as well as the level of lifelong learning expected of teachers.

Originality/value

The findings from this research contribute to an evolving knowledge base on how school leaders influence teacher learning in different national contexts. The research also extends prior research by exploring the role of academic optimism as a mediator of school leadership effects on teacher learning.

Details

Journal of Educational Administration, vol. 58 no. 6
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0957-8234

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Article
Publication date: 8 January 2018

Dhirapat Kulophas, Philip Hallinger, Auyporn Ruengtrakul and Suwimon Wongwanich

In the context of Thailand’s progress towards education reform, scholars have identified a lack of effective school-level leadership as an impeding factor. The purpose of…

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1303

Abstract

Purpose

In the context of Thailand’s progress towards education reform, scholars have identified a lack of effective school-level leadership as an impeding factor. The purpose of this paper is to develop and validate a theoretical model of authentic leadership effects on teacher academic optimism and work engagement. Authentic leadership was considered a suitable model of school leadership in light of Thailand’s explicit recognition of the importance of developing the moral capacity of students and emphasis on ethical leadership.

Design/methodology/approach

The study employed a quantitative cross-sectional survey design. Survey data were obtained from 605 teachers in a nationally representative sample of 182 primary schools. The data were analyzed using confirmatory factor analysis and structural equation modeling.

Findings

The results indicated that the model of authentic leadership effects on teachers’ academic optimism and work engagement was validated. A moderate relationship was observed between authentic leadership and the dependent measures of teacher attitudes.

Practical implications

The study identified a potentially important lack of alignment between the espoused values and actions/decisions of school principals in Thailand. When combined with prior research conducted on leadership for educational reform in Thailand, our findings highlight the systemic nature of the problem faced in changing traditional patterns of behavior in Thai schools. More specifically, despite change in the nation’s educational goals, human resource management of the nation’s school leaders continues to produce administrators and managers rather than leaders, either instructional or moral.

Originality/value

The study extends prior studies of school leadership in the context of Thailand’s education reform that focused more specifically on principal instructional leadership in Thailand. In addition, this study of authentic school leadership is one of only a few conducted outside of Western societies.

Details

International Journal of Educational Management, vol. 32 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-354X

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Article
Publication date: 5 September 2016

Shengnan Liu, Philip Hallinger and Daming Feng

In this era of global education reform, teacher professional learning (TPL) has emerged as a key factor in efforts to create sustainable school improvement. The same holds…

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1589

Abstract

Purpose

In this era of global education reform, teacher professional learning (TPL) has emerged as a key factor in efforts to create sustainable school improvement. The same holds in Mainland China where ambitious curriculum reforms have been undertaken since 2000. The purpose of this paper is to examine the role of learning-centered leadership (LCL) and teacher trust (TT) in fostering TPL in Chinese schools. More specifically, the authors examined two research questions: (1) What is the nature of the relationship of LCL to TT and professional learning?; and (2) How LCL practices influence TT and professional learning.

Design/methodology/approach

The study employed a cross-sectional survey design. The authors collected survey data from 1,259 teachers in 41 primary and secondary schools in three different Chinese provinces. The research employed confirmatory factor analysis to confirm the measurement model and structural equation modeling to examine interactions among the three main variables.

Findings

The results affirmed a positive association between LCL and TPL, and highlighted TT as a significant mediator in this relationship. Additional analyses distinguished between the effects of different dimensions of LCL on TT and TPL. Although the results of these analyses were broadly consistent with prior findings reported in the literature, divergent findings also emerged. More specifically, there was a limited use and no significant impact of “leadership modeling” on either TT or professional learning.

Research limitations/implications

The authors suggest that this pattern of leadership practice is linked with features of China’s institutional cum socio-cultural context. The authors recommend the use of qualitative and mixed methods studies capable of gaining further insight into relationships.

Practical implications

These findings in Mainland China reaffirm the efficacy of school-level leadership that builds a safe, trusting but focussed environment for teacher learning in the workplace. This is a potentially significant finding in a society where the use of top-down directives and reliance on legitimate authority by leaders can rob teachers of the motivation and initiative that undergirds sustainable professional learning. The findings, in concert with those of other scholars, suggest that “building trust” represents a useful strategy for principals who seek to establish productive learning environments for their teachers.

Originality/value

The value of this study lies in two areas. First, this is one of a growing but still limited set of quantitative empirical studies of school leadership in Mainland China. Second, the study tests the nature of mediation in the relationship between leadership, trust and TPL, a topic of relatively recent vintage in the educational leadership literature.

Details

Journal of Educational Administration, vol. 54 no. 6
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0957-8234

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Article
Publication date: 4 September 2017

Patnaree Piyaman, Philip Hallinger and Pongsin Viseshsiri

Developing countries in many parts of the world have experienced a disturbing trend in the differential pace of economic development among urban and rural communities…

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1831

Abstract

Purpose

Developing countries in many parts of the world have experienced a disturbing trend in the differential pace of economic development among urban and rural communities. These inequities have been observed in education systems in Asia, Africa, and Latin America where researchers have documented differences not only in resource allocation but also in the academic performance among students in urban and rural schools. Recently researchers have shifted their focus from examining financial and physical resources to investigating the nature and impact of differences in human resources. The purpose of this paper is to examine differences in school organization processes associated with learning-centered leadership and teacher learning among urban and rural primary schools in Thailand. Teacher trust and teacher agency were proposed as possible mediators of leadership effects on teacher learning.

Design/methodology/approach

This study employed a cross-sectional survey design. The authors collected survey data from 1,011 teachers and 60 principals in 30 urban and 30 rural primary schools in Thailand. Multi-group confirmatory factor analysis, structural equation modeling, and bootstrapping were used to analyze the proposed model of leadership and teacher professional learning. More specifically, data analysis was aimed at determining the nature of relationships among the constructs in the conceptual model and whether patterns of leadership and teacher learning differed in urban and rural primary schools.

Findings

The results affirmed a model whereby school leadership exerted significant indirect effects on teacher learning in both urban and rural primary schools. Data analyses determined that the path of leadership effects moved through trust to agency and then to teacher professional learning. Thus, while the authors found a strong direct effect of leadership on teacher trust, there were only small direct effects of leadership on teacher agency and no meaningful direct effects of leadership on teacher professional learning. Thus, the research affirmed a full mediation model of leadership effects on teacher learning. Finally, the study also affirmed that the measured variables were perceived as significantly stronger in the urban schools than in the rural schools.

Social implications

The research expands on prior research on the “achievement gap” in Thailand by demonstrating the existence of a similar “human resource gap” when comparing urban and rural school leaders and teachers. This study implies that addressing the gap in student achievement will require action aimed at building the capacity of the principals and teachers who work with the rural pupils.

Originality/value

These results suggest differences in the quality of human resources between urban and rural primary schools in Thailand. There may be potential benefit to be gained from providing training focused on “learning-centered leadership” for principals and middle level leaders, as well as expanding access to quality professional development opportunities for rural teachers.

Details

Journal of Educational Administration, vol. 55 no. 6
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0957-8234

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Article
Publication date: 28 August 2020

Zvisinei Moyo, Juliet Perumal and Philip Hallinger

This paper reports on results of a systematic research synthesis of 25 studies on women in educational leadership and management in Zimbabwe. The aim of this systematic…

Abstract

Purpose

This paper reports on results of a systematic research synthesis of 25 studies on women in educational leadership and management in Zimbabwe. The aim of this systematic review of research was to report conclusions drawn from a synthesis of findings from studies of gender and educational leadership in Zimbabwe.

Design/methodology/approach

The review used systematic methods to identify 25 research studies that examined women leading schools in Zimbabwe. Research synthesis methods used for qualitative research studies were employed in order to identify three broad themes and related subthemes across the studies.

Findings

The review identified three themes: (1) barriers to women gaining access to management positions, (2) female ways of leading, (3) context challenges for women leaders. Both barriers to gaining positions and context challenges faced in enactment of the leadership role are described. These consist of an intertwined web of personal, institutional and cultural challenges. Women's ways of leading were characterized as collegial, collaborative and caring.

Research limitations/implications

Three implications are identified. First is a need for better statistical information on gender representation in Zimbabwe and other African countries. Second is a need to design and implement training, mentoring and networking support programs for female leaders in Zimbabwe. Finally, the authors recommend that future research move toward the use of mixed methods research designs capable of achieving complementary research goals of gaining a broad perspective on the effects of female leadership and in-depth understanding of how those are achieved.

Originality/value

Empirical studies of female leadership is especially urgent in Africa where particular features embedded in the cultural context shape female access to leadership role and attitude towards efforts of women to lead.

Details

International Journal of Educational Management, vol. 34 no. 10
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-354X

Keywords

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