INFLUENCE OF COMMUNICATION PATTERNS ON ADMINISTRATIVE PERFORMANCE OF SECONDARY SCHOOL PRINCIPALS IN EBONYI STATE
This study was aimed at finding out the influence of communication patterns on administrative performance of secondary school principals in Ebonyi State. When principals fail to adhere strictly to effective and acceptable communication patterns, achievement of school objectives will always be at the crossroads. Similarly, poor communication patterns in school system dwindle and prevent understanding and co-operation among staff. This study therefore, become imperative with a view to advance remedial steps in the event of poor communication patterns among secondary school principals in Ebonyi State. The study was carried out with five (5) research questions and three (3) hypothesis. The researcher’ developed questionnaire was the instrument used in collecting data from 141 principals and 423 teachers randomly selected from the 141 state-owned secondary schools in Onueke and Afikpo Education Zones used as sample for the study. From the reactions of the respondents, the following two major findings were made:
That the communication patterns adopted by principals have influence on staff and students-personnel administration including school-community relationship;
There are prevalence of conflicts and disagreements between principals and staff resulting from poor communication patterns. In view of these findings, it was recommended that principals should adopt appropriate and acceptable communication patterns in interacting with staff, students and as well, the community to ensure effective administrative performance in school system.
Background of the Study
Communication is one of the major tools for effective and efficient implementation of schools‟ programs and objectives. Principals, staff, and students communicate about all matters necessary for the smooth running of school affairs. It is observed that communication is the mainstream of any organization. Hence, it is very important in school administration that essentially school cannot survive without (Roy, 2010). In other words, principals and staff must of necessity communicate in the pursuit and accomplishment of school goals and objectives. There is a general awareness of the critical role of communication in the institutional set up the world over. Consequently, several definitions of communication have been proffered. According to Awutua-Efebo (2001), communication refers to the conveying of information or knowledge from one person to another. Vale (2000), defined it as the exchange and flow of information and ideas from one person to another, involving a sender transmitting an idea to a receiver. Similarly, communication involves the interchange of facts, thoughts, values, and opinions and may take the forms of face-to-face conversation, conferences, memoranda, handset calls, letters, and formal or informal meetings among others (Okeke, 1997). From these definitions, it is obvious that communication involves the process of conveying information with the aim of influencing the attitudes and actions of others through proper expressions of guidance and directives to achieve desired goals (Barnett and Greenough, 2004). Barnett also opined that communication achieves its objectives when the information is appropriately relayed and clearly understood. This means that communication is the appropriate and clear relay of ideas, information, and thoughts between and among persons (Berlo, 2009). To effectively communicate, one needs to select the communication patterns that will enable one to transmit the intended idea. Communication patterns should, therefore, involve various processes, means, and skills to ensure sound message delivery. In essence, it is those processes, means, and skills to communication are collectively referred to as communication patterns. Similarly, communication patterns connote those regular means through which effective communication can take place (Hornby, 1981). Therefore, the term „communication patterns‟ generically covers the processes, types, forms, channels, styles, and flow of communication (Baluska, Marcuso and Volkmaun, 2009, and Roy,2010). Notably, effective communication exists in the social system, including schools only when effective communication patterns are properly adopted by the administrator. Principals of secondary schools as administrators are expected to adhere to acceptable patterns of communication so as to achieve the global objectives of education
The success of a school is dependent on the collective performance of its staff. Egboka (2004), noted that such collective performance requires comprehensive and factual communication as regards what the school hopes to achieve, how it hopes to achieve its aims, and when several activities should be carried out to ensure the achievement of the schools‟ aims and objectives. Montana and Charnov (2008), noted that communication is essential for administration because all other attributes of the administrative process depend on, interwoven with, and exist through communication. It is observed that when principals fail to adopt appropriate communication patterns, the achievement of school objectives will always be at crossroads. Also, poor communication patterns in the school system dwindle and prevent understanding and cooperation among staff. Thus, without the spirit of co-operation and understanding (esprit de corps), there can be no sense of direction. One of the aims of effective communication patterns in school is to foster good principal-staff relationships. Little (2002), noted that a good principal- staff relationship is the existence of rapport between principals and staff, which fosters problem-solving approaches to instructional improvement which in turn, serve as the perfect indicator of effective administrative performance of school principals. Good administrative performance of principals thus represents an interactive relationship that exists among staff whereby staff discuss problems and seek solutions together, advise one another, learn from one another, exchange views, and as well think about school improvements in terms of communal efforts rather than individual actions.
It is apparent, that effective communication patterns in school organizations are used to develop sound administrative performance needed for goal achievement. Goodlad (1998), pointed out that much of what happens in schools, including how staff act and react, are influenced either positively or negatively by the nature of communication patterns adopted. Lack of effective communication patterns as Obi (1997) and Okezue (2001) noted, accounts for most of the problems in the administration and implementation of school programs. In schools where there are no proper communication patterns, principals‟ activities become subject to criticism among staff and students. Such a situation quickly generates hatred, gossip, and open quarrel among staff and principals. In this case, principals choose to form cliques and become selective in their relationships with staff. Similarly, cases of role conflict and the cold war between principals and vice-principals including teachers have also been severally reported. When this condition persists, it breeds lawlessness in school management. Most often, it brings undue transfer of staff as may be planned by the principal. It sometimes results in students‟ riots. For instance, cases of students‟ riots in secondary schools involving the killing of staff and destruction of property have been reported. The students‟ riots of St. Aidan‟s secondary school Umuezeoka in February 2011 resulting in the killing of a teacher and others injured, also the students‟ riots of Community Secondary School Oshiegbe in March 2012 resulting in the killing of two policemen and destruction of properties worth millions of naira, all in Ezza North Local Government Area of Ebonyi State represent the instances of students‟ riots.
All these administrative disorders imply a lack of effective communication patterns and poor human relationships in the school system. This is because, when principals fail to adopt appropriate communication patterns in their school administration, such administration calls for what Berlo (2009), highlighted as local politics, hostile attitudes, indifference, or lack of cooperation on the part of both the staff, students, and the school community. It is thus, very vital for principals to adopt effective communication patterns and make use of good channels to foster good relationships among staff and students in approximation towards achieving perfect administrative performance in the school system.
Communication channels are those mediums of communication that the principals employ to convey vital information to their subordinates, which could be verbal, non-verbal, or a combination of both (Akpawusi, 2002). Communication channels involve those directions and flows of communication in organizations, incorporating vertical, upward, downward, horizontal, sideways, or lateral flow of communication (Ngoka, 2000). In order to maintain effective communication channels, communication skills are involved. Communication skills according to Nwachukwu (1998), involve those techniques that people adopt while exchanging messages between one another and dependent on the manner and dispositions of the sender. These skills include; creativity, collective bargaining, coercive and transactional skills.
The creativity skill of communication is an act of applying creative ability to conveying information in a way that facilitates changes in a problematic situation. Collective bargaining skills are those communication skills which an administrator uses in his official matters. School principals can use this style in working with the Ministry of Education or the State Post Primary School Service Commission (PPSSC). The coercive skill involves the application of praise, guidance counseling, persuasion, flattering or actual force to secure one's way. While transactional skills include the skills of direction, authority, instructions, and sanctions to achieve organizational goals.
The influence an administrator (principal) has among his/her staff and students is partly a matter of his position in the communication channel as well as his communication skill competence (Obi, 1997). The school administrator who maintains proper and effective communication patterns within the school system is most likely to facilitate communication to enhance effective teaching and learning. Thus, principals should endeavor to propagate and adopt sound communication patterns that breed effective administrative performance in the school. This is to check all sorts of administrative ineffectiveness, inefficiency, and in all, school administrative bottlenecks. It is noted that where the appropriate communication patterns are neglected or ignored, the entire functions and activities in such an organization (school) is bound to grow into extinction. Therefore, effective communication patterns become the solid foundation upon which an effective and efficient administrative performance is anchored.
In all, Chester in Appleby (1994), stressed the need for effective communication patterns to occupy a central position in organizational set-ups. This is because the structure and scope of the organization are almost entirely determined by the communication patterns adopted.
Regrettably, however, despite the indispensable value of communication for fostering effective and efficient administrative performances in school management. It is observed that in secondary school administration, there is a prevalence of conflicts and disagreements between principals and staff. Poor communication skills of principals such as not communicating friendly to teachers and non-tutorial staff in delegating functions, non-utilization of valid and reliable information sources in communication, and not conveying decisions to teachers have also been reported (Kilo, 2002) Similarly, Onah (2001), established that several acts of teachers'‟ non-compliance with the principals‟ directives greatly reduce the administrative effectiveness and efficiency. According to Okezue (2001), pointed out that where teachers fail to comply with the principals‟ directives, teachers‟ indiscipline soar and students‟ learning is highly hindered. In this situation, teachers and principals including students often clash and fail to achieve the school objectives (Nwankwo,2001). It thus appears that good communication patterns needed for fostering effective administrative performance have not been achieved in many secondary schools, particularly in Ebonyi State, and maybe a major reason why conflicts and poor students‟ academic performances characterize most secondary schools in the area (Nwachukwu, 1998). Other major instances include the open enmity that always exists between the principal and other staff resulting from suspicious financial management practices of the principal (Ekume,1990). This has actually caused so many administrative problems in secondary school administration. It is of the notion that some principals in Ebonyi State go as far as making enmity with any staff who tend to seek clarification on how school fund is being retired. All these situations amplify poor communication patterns in school administration. Also, some principals most often fail to communicate school matters to the communities through the Parents teachers‟ association (P.T.A) and therefore, fail to involve them in some aspects of school administration (Nwankwo,2010). Thus, principals see themselves as warlords and as such, create unhealthy school-community relationships. Community/communities here can be referred to as a body of people living in the same locality and sharing a common heritage, views, and willingness to work together. In essence, these people may not actually meet up with this modern trend of development regarding their needs as a community without a school. In other words, the school can not exist without community/communities. It is expected that the primary function of a school, is to serve the community where it is located. When principals neglect the above expectation, such a situation may not be unrelated to poor communication patterns. It may be that some of the communication patterns available for effective and efficient school administration are not freely applied in the schools
In all, it follows, therefore, that since effective communication patterns influence progressively the administrative performances of school principals, principals and teachers need to adopt sound communication patterns and skills in order to communicate in a friendly manner in running the affairs of the school. Crucial to this need is an empirical investigation on the communication patterns (types, forms, channels, flow, and skills) essential for the good administrative performance of secondary school principals in Ebonyi State. Statement of the Problem Principals and staff of secondary schools are expected to communicate very well in order to maintain a good organizational climate in schools that ensures sound administrative performance. It is essential to note that communication can only be effective when its objective is achieved. Thus, communication goes beyond mere sending of a word or words to the next person, because hearing is one thing while to understand is another thing entirely.
The problem of this study originated as a result of non-adherence to appropriate communication patterns by secondary school principals in Ebonyi State. Despite the core value of adopting effective communication patterns in the school system, many secondary schools in Ebonyi State still leave much to be desired in terms of effective communication. Some principals communicate with their staff as if the staff are slaves and not colleagues. Some order staff about, shout at them, criticize them before the students. During supervision, many principals criticize and condemn teachers even before students. It has been observed that some school heads in Ebonyi state hoard vital information from staff and use unclear statements in delegating tasks. Consequently, some staff gossip against their principals, some prefer gathering what some writers call “painted information” from typists, messengers, and grapevine. It is not rare to see teachers in Ebonyi state using rude words in response to principals‟ directives and even demanding resources from principals in abusive languages. These situations imply poor communication patterns in the school system. Based on the above facts, it is clear that certain problems exist and it is of much concern to this researcher hence, posed to ask: what are the influence of communication patterns on the administrative performance of secondary school principals. In view of this, the researcher embarks on this study to investigate through the opinion of principals and teachers the influence of communication patterns on the administrative performance of secondary school principals in Ebonyi State.
Purpose of the Study
The main purpose of the study is to investigate the influence of communication patterns on the administrative performance of secondary school principals in Ebonyi state. Specifically, the study seeks to:
1. Ascertain the communication patterns available to the secondary school principals of Ebonyi State.
2. To identify the communication patterns adopted by secondary school principals in school administration.
3. Find out the influence of the communication patterns adopted by the school principals on staff-personnel administration.
4. Identify the influence of the communication patterns adopted by the school principals on students- personnel administration.
5. Identify the influence of communication patterns adopted by the school principals on school-community relationship
Significance of the Study
The findings of this study have both theoretical and practical significance. The Theoretical significance is hinged on effective communication theory. Communication theory explains the existence of applicable rules, ideas, principles, and techniques in communication. Many communication problems facing the Nigerian education system particularly, the secondary education level could be solved through effective communication theory. In Ebonyi State Secondary Education Board (SEB) the same theory could be applied to solve the communication problems encountered by education administrators including school principals for effective administrative performance in the school system. Practically, the findings of this study will be found relevant to the following group of persons; principals, teachers, students, Secondary School Management Board, and the entire society. The findings of this study will expose secondary school principals to the best available options of communication patterns in the school system. Consequently, the findings will help them adhere to the meaningful communication patterns for effective and efficient administrative performance in the school system.
The results of this study will help teachers appreciate their important position in the school communication network. This will, therefore, motivate them to co-operate with principals for professional growth and quality teaching delivery in the school. Similarly, the findings will be an eye-opener to teachers on the best communication patterns that can introduce healthy relationship among staff and students within the school environment and beyond. The findings of this study will present with students the importance of effective communication patterns in the school management thereby, helping them communicate effectively both in the classroom activities and issues affecting school. The result of the study will as well, be of immense significance to students carrying out further studies on any aspect of communication, as this study may act as a springboard. From the findings of the study, the Secondary School Management Board will be presented with the views of principals and teachers on communication patterns necessary for progressive administrative performance in the school system. In the strength of the above, the board will know the specific communication patterns to be focused during staff seminars and workshops on communication patterns.
In all, Nigerian society will also gain from the results of this study, when principals and teachers use better communication patterns, to be ascertained in this work, it is more likely that role ambiguity will be minimized, rivalry, among principals and teachers will be drastically reduced, and teachers will be more committed to their work thus, yielding improved and production personnel to the society.
Scope of the Study
The geographical scope of this study covered the three Education Zones of Ebonyi State. The content scope is on the influence of communication patterns on the administrative performance of secondary school principals in Ebonyi State. Specifically, the study focuses on the influence of communication patterns on administrative performance of principals particularly, on staff-personnel administration, students-personnel administration, and communication patterns that progressively influence principals administrative performance on school-community relationship.
The following research questions guide the study:
1. What are the communication patterns available to the secondary school principals in Ebonyi State?
2. What are the communication patterns adopted by secondary school principals?
3. What is the influence of the communication patterns adopted by the school principals on staff-personnel administration?
4. What is the influence of the communication patterns adopted by the school principals on students- personnel administration?
5. What is the influence of the communication patterns adopted by the school principals on the school-community relationship?
The following null hypotheses were formulated to guide the study and be tested at a 0.05 level of significance.
HO1: There is no significant difference between the mean ratings of school principals and teachers with regard to influences of the communication patterns adopted by principals on staff-personnel administration.
HO2: There is no significant difference between the mean ratings of principals and teachers with regard to the influence of communication patterns adopted by principals on students- personnel administration.
HO3: There is no significant difference between the mean ratings of principals and teachers with regard to the influence of communication patterns adopted by principals on the school-community relationships..