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Research on Effective

Educational Institution

By the end of this lecture, you should be able
1. Discuss findings of researches on school
2. Relate to the functions of leadership and
management with effective educational
3. Describe indicators for effective educational

This lecture discusses researches on effective educational
institutions in terms of effective leadership and
Research on school effectiveness
Research on school effectiveness has received greater
attention over the last 40 years especially in the USA
(Reynolds and Teddlie 2000). Three major themes can be
1. School effects research which focuses on input and output
relationships in the process of teaching and learning;
2. Effective schools research which focuses on the process
of effective schooling; and
3. School improvement research which examines the
process of change in school.

Sammons, Hillman and Mortimore (1995) have

identified five areas of research crucial for school
1. Study on equality of opportunity and the significance
of school related to equality.
2. Study on economics of education production
3. Study on evaluations of compensatory programmes.
4. Study on school effectiveness and school
improvement programmes.
5. Study on effectiveness of teachers and teaching

They conducted a research on key characteristics

of effective schools and managed to identify the
eleven characteristics as mentioned earlier in this
The findings are explained below:
1. Professional leadership - from their study, they
found that those effective schools have firm
leadership and purposeful, utilised participative
leadership, and have sound approaches to respond
to changes. According to them, the school head
teachers were the key agents that brought about
school changes.

2. Participative approach - the effective leaders according

to them are sharing their responsibilities with other
senior members of the organisation and there are also
involvements of teachers in decision-making activities.
3. A learning environment - the schools are in an orderly
manner, not chaotic, and the environment promotes
positive atmosphere and stimulating conditions for
teaching and learning.
4. Teaching and learning - the schools concentrate on
teaching and learning, maximise students time for
learning, and emphasise on academic contents for
students success in examinations. Teachers are also
having strong grasp of subjects contents. The primary
focus is on achievement of students.

5. Purposeful teaching - quality in teaching is

emphasised and shown through well prepared lesson
plans, teacher readiness, structured lessons, and clear
objectives on teaching and learning. Teachers are also
sensitive to students needs and ability, and are able
to adapt to various changes and requirements.
6. High expectations - students and teachers show high
expectations for all round achievements. The
expectations are well communicated in the schools
and expectations are also put as challenges to
students. Promoting intellectual challenge is also

7. Positive reinforcement - positive reinforcement is

emphasised in the schools. Students are given
feedback about their behaviours.
8. Monitoring progress - there are well-established
mechanisms to monitor school performance and
students progress.
9. Students rights and responsibilities - students play
active roles and are given shared responsibilities for
their own learning. Student-teacher rapport is
enhanced both inside and outside classrooms.

10. Home-school partnership - there are strong relationships

between schools and parents. Parents and teachers have
similar objectives and expectations of students. Parents
play an active role to help the schools, evaluate school
performance and at the same time, the schools demand
active participation of parents in planning for school
11. A learning organisation - effective schools are learning
organisations, whereby teachers and senior teachers
continue to be learners, keeping updated with their
subjects and with advances in understanding about
effective practice (p. 27).

Earlier on, Hoffman (1991) summarised the research on

effective schools from the 1970s and early 1980s and
listed eight recurring attributes of effective schools:
1. A clear school mission.
2. Effective instructional leadership and practices.
3. High expectations.
4. A safe, orderly, and positive environment.
5. Ongoing curriculum improvement.
6. Maximum use of instructional time.
Frequent monitoring of student progress.
Positive home-school relationships.

Local study
A study by Zafir, Abdul Majid and Soaib (2009)
examined the aspects of a purposeful teaching and
learning organisation in a university as an educational
These two aspects were linked with the concept of
quality assurance to sustain educational development
with the aim to create an effective university. The study
was conducted to gain an understanding on the quality
assurance practices implemented by Malaysian public
universities in the offering of undergraduate

The aim was to determine the practices undertaken by

the universities to comply with the Malaysian Quality
Framework (MQF) requirements and to explain any
discrepancies as well as similarities that emerged from
the current quality assurance practices.
Following the qualitative paradigm, five interviewees
who were considered as the persons responsible for
overseeing the implementation of quality assurance
practices in five public universities provided the data,
gathered through in-depth interviews. The findings
indicated that in general, the public universities adhered
to the MQF requirements and in various aspects went the
extra mile to improve their effectiveness.

Effectiveness through management

Originated by Kotter (1990), Davies, Ellison and
Bowring (2005, 94) summarised the distinction between
the functions of leadership and management in various
crucial aspects.

Agenda creation


Plan development: Developing detailed

plan and set targeted results.

Budgeting: Allocating the resources to

achieve the
developed plan.




Network development

Organisational structure: Establishing

structure to accomplish the plan.

Staffing: Staffing the structure with individuals

and delegating responsibility together with

Policies: Developing policies and procedures and



Controlling: Monitoring results. Problem solving:

deviations and finding solutions to problems




Produces a degree of predictability and

Maintaining consistency and fulfilling the
stakeholders expectations.

Overall, the above four aspects are crucial elements in the functions of educational
leaders. They have to cleverly combine the functions and compare them with the
current developments in leadership.


Globally, the nature of effective leadership and

management has evolved over the last 50 years
(Sawatzki 2005). Initially leadership was more related
to leading a group to achieve its goals, and leaders
functioned as both director and supervisor.
Following that leaders became the facilitator for team
performance, and developments at the later period
(after the 1990s) linked leadership with the creation
and maintenance of a climate and conditions for the
achievement of goals and the attainment of high
performance (Ibid, 93).
The later development sees a situation where leaders
need to work with and to work through other people.

Based on current researches, strategic leadership has

been identified as an area which leaders should focus
on (Sawatzki 2005). Strategic leadership comprises
five elements as shown by the following table.

Trends and issues

Knowledge sharing


Keeping track of trends and issues

affecting education, analysing them
in terms of threats and opportunities,
and anticipating the impacts on the

Sharing of knowledge in areas of

interest with others.



Structures and processes

Establishing appropriate structures,

processes and
formulating strategies that would facilitate
achievement of organisational vision.

Focus strategies

Focusing on strategic issues that would

benefit the

Monitoring the implementation of strategies

and issues in the environment, reviewing
them, and improving the strategies.



Multiple indicators of effective educational

Effective educational institutions are said to have four
components to ensure their survival and growth
(Sergiovanni, Kelleher, McCarthy and Fowler 2009).
What are they?
Goal attainment
Pattern maintenance
The above components are explained with examples in
the following tables.

Components of AGIP for institutional survival



Adaptation (A)

Educational institutions must cope with the

external situational exigencies to survive. As
an example, when resources are limited, the
institutions are able to find their own new
resources; or when technology becomes
obsolete, they managed to invent a new
technology to carry on with their core

Educational institutions must define and

achieve their primary goals. When obstacles
impede goals achievement, the institutions
should be able to mobilise their members and20
resources and realign them towards goals

Goal Attainment


Integration (I)

Pattern Maintenance (P)


Educational institutions must regulate the

interrelationship of their internal component
parts. When there are disagreements or
dissonance among members, the institutions
are supposed to overcome such threatening
events and coordinate the members as a united

Educational institutions must sustain the

motivation of their members and the
institutional cultural pattern. Despites the
pressures affecting the institutions, they should
be able to sustain their norms, beliefs, cultures
and motivation of the members towards
achieving the stated goals.

Components of AGIP for institutional growth



Adaptation (A)

Educational institutions must increase their

openness to cope with the external changes to
grow. As an example, they must be able to
channel information gathered from the outside
world to their advantage, or extend their
contacts beyond the normal boundaries so that
they can accommodate the information or the
contacts built to increase their effectiveness.

Goal Attainment (G)

Educational institutions must be able to add new

goals, or to re-align their goals to go beyond
their ordinary performance so that they would
not be left behind. Adding new goals or
realigning their goals is important to make them
remain relevant in the current competitive



Integration (I)

Structurally, educational institutions must be able to sustain

their internal coherence despite their subunits, individual
functions. The salient point is to maintain a sense of loyalty to
the organisation and remain united as a group for this can
influence and affect the organisational growth.

Pattern Maintenance

Educational institutions must be able to transmit organisational

culture to new members and to convey to them that they are
important components and have such capabilities that can be
influential to the organisational growth.


Multiple indicators of effectiveness

As educational institutions, there are several indicators
that can describe school effectiveness (Everard, Morris
and Wilson 2004).
1. Adaptability - Schools adaptability to their external
environment and ways to respond to external pressures
are good sign of effective schools.
2. Growth - Over a certain period of time, schools show
their growth in terms of number of students intake,
teachers employed, staff employed, classes open and
subjects offered.
3. Productivity - Examination results continue to show an
increase in percentage pass, as well as the quality of the
results in the national examination papers.


4. Satisfaction - Students show great appreciation and

satisfaction of their learning experience in the schools
while teachers show their motivation and satisfaction
through high performance in their core activities.
5. Loyalty - Teachers and staff retention is high while good
students remain in the schools despite their good
standings in the lower form national examination
(Penilaian Menengah Rendah).
6. Sense of identity - Students and teachers are proud to
become members of the schools and like to be identified
as such in their interactions with the external
In short, according to the authors, a school may be
considered an effective school if it possesses most if not
all of the above indicators.


Look at your school results for Penilaian Menengah Rendah
examination for the last five years and answer the following questions.
1. Roughly, how many students scored straight As in the examination?
2. How many achieved more than five As in the examination?
3. How many of them who obtained straight As and more than five As
remain in Form Four and Form Five in the same school?
4. How many teachers requested for transfer in the last three years?
Spend about 20 minutes on this activity with your friend.

Do you consider the community outside
your school as potential allies or enemies?
Answer using your own words.