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The Project File Details
1.1 Background of the study
It is a natural phenomenon for children to look to the adults in their surrounding environment as leaders that they may one day choose to emulate. In some instances, many children have a misconception of what it means to serve as a leader. They often only see the leader as a person who is the boss, someone who is in charge, or first. In school, many children have the desire to be the ‘line leader’ or the individual who stands in the capacity of the teacher and writes names when the teacher has to leave the classroom. These small roles as well as adult influences help to develop a child’s personality and in turn further lead to the development of their leadership abilities.
From a very young age, children are influenced by human characteristics and behaviours that help to shape and develop their concept of ‘good and bad,’ and ‘right and wrong.’ There are some individuals that feel that children display leadership qualities at a young age. Even though this may be the case, is it truly safe to imply that the child was born to lead, or are they displaying characteristics that they have picked up on at a rather rapid pace?
There are two types of individuals in this world; individuals who choose to lead and individuals who choose to follow. Not everyone has the skill level, knowledge, or even the desire to become a leader, but individuals who have the aspiration, willingness to overcome obstacles, and enthusiasm may prove to be capable of becoming an effective leader without having the ‘natural born’ instinct.
In order to be effective in a supervisory capacity, it is important for individuals to develop and put into practice various skills and abilities that will help to enhance their ability to be successful in leadership roles. There is much confusion as to what the term ‘supervision’ truly entails. Many people believe it only applies to people who oversee the productivity and development of entry-level workers; however, supervision is the activity carried out by supervisors to oversee the productivity and progress of employees who report directly to the supervisors (Staker, n.d.).
The term ‘supervisor’ typically refers to one’s immediate superior in the workplace, that is, the person to whom you report directly to in an organization. For example, a top manager would generally supervise an employee who is a middle manager, a middle manager would supervise a first-line manager and a first-line manager would supervise a worker (Staker, n.d.).
Supervisors typically are responsible for their direct employees’ progress and productivity in the organization. Supervision often includes conducting basic management skills, organizing teams, noticing the need for and designing new job roles in the group, hiring new employees, training new employees, managing employee performance, and ensuring conformance to personnel policies and other internal regulations (Robbins & De Cenzo, 2001). Supervising others can indeed be quite a complicated and tedious process. It takes a tremendous amount of effort and drive in order to be considered effective as a supervisor. Effective supervision not only involves getting others to perform in a desirable manner, it also entails mentoring, coaching, monitoring, leading, as well as the utilizing employees and other resources to accomplish a common goal. Supervisors also have the responsibility for implementing essential administrative functions such as staffing, planning, organizing, directing, and controlling.
Most supervisors spend a vast majority of their time directing and controlling as opposed to planning and organizing. This can be quite difficult, especially for new supervisors who are thrust into supervisory positions without having full knowledge of their employer’s expectations (Yukl, 1981). In many cases, employees are usually promoted to supervisory positions based on their competency level and performance in nonsupervisory positions (Schnake, 1987). Supervisors, who are promoted from nonsupervisory positions, may also have a difficult time because of the high level of expectations desired based partly by their performance on the nonsupervisory level. As a supervisor, it is important to establish an exchange between the supervisor and employee. This exchange is commonly referred to as the Leader-Member Exchange (LMX). Within the LMX, the supervisor is considered to be the ‘leader’ and the employee is referred to as the ‘member’ (Papa, Thomas, & Spiker, 2008).
The quality of the relationship that exists between the supervisor and each individual employee varies. A supervisor is expected to approach situations with various employees differently based on the type of rapport that exists between them. LMX is a descriptive theory that suggests that it is essential to identify the existence of in-groups and out-groups within a group or organization. Many employees generally have the desire to be members of the in-group because these individuals are looked upon in a more favourable light. Members in this group are often given more responsibility, more willing to perform extra work and assume added responsibilities, are generally harder workers, display more commitment, and the supervisor can often depend on them to perform unstructured tasks (Truckenbrodt, 2000). On the other hand, out-group members generally only perform what is required of them, and there is usually a limited amount of reciprocal trust, support, and rewards from the supervisor (Deluga, 1998).
Papa et al. (2008) suggests that “one of the greatest features of the leader-member exchange theory is its clear association with a wide range of desirable outcomes, in terms of individual attitudes and behaviours” (p. 265). The LMX theory proves to be noteworthy because it shows how important communication is when it comes to leadership. The LMX theory is also unique because it’s the only leadership approach that makes the concept of the dyadic relationship the centrepiece of the leadership process (Papa et al., 2008). Overall, it is the quality of the relationship that matters most when individuals are engaged in getting extraordinary things done.
Supervisors have a responsibility to upper management as well as their employees. Their responsibility to management is to work to ensure effective and efficient task performance. As far as responsibility to employees, supervisors are expected to maintain a suitable working environment, foster healthy working relationships, and provide challenging tasks in an effort to satisfy the need for personal growth amongst employees (Schnake, 1987). Supervisors’ actions speak volumes, and modern supervisors are moving away from the traditional method of making all decisions, giving orders and commands, and planning the work of their employees. The focal point of supervision places more of an emphasis on mentoring, coaching, counselling, nurturing, and guiding in a manner that will help to meet the individual as well as the collective needs of the employee. It is nearly an effortless process to influence your team to accomplish diverse tasks that you wish for them to achieve when the team knows that the supervisor is on board as well. Effective supervisors set the standard for their employees and lead by example. In some instances, they refuse to allow members to perform assignments they are not willing to carry out themselves. When employees detect this quality from a supervisor, they are often more likely to develop a level of trust and respect and generally are more likely to perform tasks that will help the team to succeed. Supervisors who are leaders often are the first to make moves, and their deep commitment to their values and beliefs can often be translated through their daily actions.
However a supervisor’s skilfulness in influencing others is mostly determined by the formal authority inherent in their position (Robbins & De Cenzo, 2001). Truckenbrodt (2000) suggests that “supervisors are agents for change and act as role models and positive influences on their subordinates” (p. 241). The success and value of a supervisor is often determined by their effectiveness in facilitating teams as well as how they contribute as a member of the team. Federal education initiatives are holding each state accountable for the education of all children through close monitoring of individual student data at the district and school level. The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB) amends the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 to include requirements for states to meet Adequate Yearly Progress objectives and performance standards set by federal policy. This pervasive accountability system places state wide student testing results as one of the final determinations of school improvement efforts.
It is only with a shift in the focus from a managerial style of school leadership to a teacher-focused style of leadership that school improvement will increase and student achievement will rise (Bredson, 2005, Lazaridou, 2006).
The actions of school leaders impact school capacity and may either enhance or diminish student achievement. School capacity is defined as the collective power of a school staff to raise student achievement (King & Youngs, 2002). The effective educational leader is one who has the ability to develop a school’s capacity to enhance student learning through the motivation of teachers, staff and students (Daley, Guarino & Santibanez, 2006). Such leadership is determined by the followers, not the leaders (Bhindi, Hansen, Rall, Riley, & Smith, 2008).
Therefore, it may be claimed that student achievement is effected by the teachers’ perception of school leadership. School administrators who build school capacity through an effective leadership style may influence student achievement through teachers (Christie, Thompson, & Whiteley, 2009). The school leader must have or be able to develop the capacity to work with staff to focus on curriculum, instruction and student learning gains (Fullen, 2001). The perception of the school administrator is often as a person who manages a school and not as a person who is an instructional leader.
The leader’s daily activities and decisions reflect the pervasive focus and style of the school’s leadership (Noonan & Walker, 2008). A teacher-focused leader works toward the development of school capacity which builds upon positive teacher capacity with the end results increasing student achievement. The outcome of a student’s education as evidenced through test scores is often determined by the focus and effectiveness of a school’s leadership (Leithwood, 2005 & 2008).
The educational leader’s role is to hire and motivate teachers to raise student learning gains (Hoy & Woolfolk, 1993, Janzi & Leithwood, 1996). Students reveal their ability to learn through their measured achievement, attendance, and participation in school activities. However, it is the students’ perception of their teachers that sets the daily learning process in motion. Further, it is the teacher’s perception of how they are valued and supported by their school’s leadership that often has an influence on their daily decisions to motivate students (Bandura, 2003, Demir, 2008).
Authentic leadership is defined by followers, not the leaders (Bhindi, Hansen, Rall, Riley, & Smith, 2008). This study used a post positivist philosophical paradigm to support the use of situational leadership theory as the conceptual framework. Post positivism philosophy helps define the elusiveness of leadership by suggesting the teacher’s realities are based on their personal experiences (Knipp & Mackenzie, 2006). This philosophical paradigm supports the need for leaders to know how teachers define their leadership within the school culture.
Post positivism is the lens used to view situational leadership. This theory provides the researcher with a critical realism which allows for headmasters to use their independent reality that is based on a multiple of measures they apply in their everyday situations when making leadership decisions (Trochim, 2008). Effective leadership is determined by the selection of the leadership style in daily leadership decisions. Educational leaders have multiple roles which require the freedom of choice, or adaptability of their own behaviours (Blanchard & Hershey, 2001). As a result, student learning gains may react to school capacity as influenced by the teacher-focused leadership decisions within the conceptual framework of situational leadership theory.
1.2 Statement of problem
The leadership styles of headmasters are interpreted and defined through their teachers. It is assumed that headmaster leadership behaviours influence teacher engagement with students which results in a measured impact on student performance.
The framework of situational leadership theory maintains that leaders have the opportunity to select the style which positively influences their effective practices, role modelling and high expectations to enhance school improvement. Does a headmaster’s leadership style as perceived by teachers as transactional, transformational, or passive-avoidant impact school capacity and ultimately student achievement? As a result of their decisions, effective school leaders develop an environment that builds or destroys school capacity. School capacity is raised through the administrative role modelling of effective practices and consistent teacher-focused decisions that ultimately impacts student learning gains. Consequently, the improvement of teacher capacity directly relates to the selected style when a teacher witnesses a leader’s belief system that supports them professionally.
There is a knowledge gap in education research studies on teacher-focused leadership styles that effect student achievement. To help close this gap, the variables of this study identified the headmaster’s leadership styles, as perceived by their teachers, the status of schools as improving or non-improving, and the school’s student achievement.
1.3 Purpose of the study
The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship between leadership styles as perceived by teachers as determined by the MLQ (5x-Short) survey and the school’s student achievement data on the Kwara state assessments test. The variables of the study were determined by the research questions reflecting the purpose of the study: headmaster’s leadership style, status of the schools as either improving or non-improving and student achievement.
These variables were determined based on the conviction that headmasters do not have a direct impact on student achievement since they are not responsible for instructing students. Headmasters affect student achievement through teachers. The premise of this research was that the headmaster’s leadership behaviours influenced teachers who, in turn, are directly responsible for student achievement. Therefore, teacher perception of leadership behaviours and school performance on primary school pupils may identify effective leadership styles and behaviours that influence student achievement.
This study sought to contribute to the research that examines a headmaster’s leadership style and its influence on student academic performance. Situational leadership has been prominent in previous research and contributed to the study’s framework. For example, Blase and Blase (1999) found that leaders have the opportunity to select the style that positively influences effective practices, role modelling and their high expectations as instructional leaders who enhance school improvement. Additionally, improving schools exhibit a culture with a focus on student achievement, good communication, and high expectations of teachers and students.
Research literature substantiates the study and presents a pattern of support for additional research due to knowledge gaps (Blanchard & Hersey, 1979; Halinger & Beck, 1998, 2005; Lazaridou, 2006). Few existing studies established a link between the impact of leadership decisions on teachers and student achievement. Research on educational leadership is extensive. However, current studies fail to concentrate on specifically teacher-focused leadership styles that effect student achievement through the building of school capacity.
This study attempted to identify the relationship between the style of school leadership, as perceived by the teachers in improving and non-improving schools, and the effect on student achievement. The current demand for increased school accountability to raise student achievement has added pressure on school leaders to change from a managerial leader to an instructional leader.
As a result, the importance of demonstrating a leadership style that positively influences school improvement is paramount to their success. This study serves to contribute to the foundation of knowledge and understanding of how leadership styles influence teachers and ultimately student achievement.
1.4 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
The research questions are:
1.5 Research hypotheses
H01: The leadership style can be applied in equal proportion
H02: The supervisory techniques are the same in primary schools
H03: The male leadership style is the same as their female counter part.
1.6 Significant of the study
The study is significant because it will bring the awareness of the nature and dimension of supervision of primary schools by the headmasters in the primary school sector.
Also, the research will helps us to know whether specific leadership styles relate to specific effective style of supervision in primary schools.
Furthermore, it will help us suggest the types of leadership styles which is ideal for maximum staffs and pupils supervisory effectiveness in primary schools
1.7 Scope of the study
This study is delimited to some selected primary schools within Ilorin west local government area of Kwara state.
The PRIMARY schools are:
1.8 Clarification of terms and variables