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Exploration of exemplar school principals with digital leadership in Malaysia


Saraih, Emelia Fantoza (2021) Exploration of exemplar school principals with digital leadership in Malaysia. Doctoral thesis, Universiti Putra Malaysia.


This study was designed to explore and describe the living experience of exemplar school principals from High Performing Schools (HPSs) in Selangor, Malaysia with regard to their digital leadership. There is an urgent need for leadership in technology use in Malaysian school principals as ICT development advances and technology usage has become an integral part of the nation’s learning process. However, research in the area of the digital and leadership is scarce and requires a perspective on digital leadership. As ICT and Internet development advances, how do school principal communicate with teachers, staff, students, and stakeholders, how do they practice public relations, uphold branding of an HPS school, support teacher professional growth, foster the use of ICT in support of student engagement and learning and networking with stakeholders? This study offers an in-depth understanding of school principals and how they use ICT as a conduit in their leadership practices. In particular, the study describes how school principals leverage ICT (e.g. social media, digital devices, online learning, etc.) to support their communication, project their school image to the public, foster public relations with stakeholders, facilitate teachers’ professional growth and development, encourage teaching and learning in the classroom, and nurture networking with parents and alumni for school progress. Adopting a relativistic paradigm, this study utilized the qualitative methodology to perform a single-case study. Qualitative data was collected through semistructured interviews with exemplar HPS principals to discover the principals’ digital leadership practices. Four secondary HPSs in Selangor, Malaysia were selected, from which 16 respondents participated in this study. The principals of the four schools were the main respondents, while four assistant principals, four teachers, and four staff were the secondary respondents. For triangulation purposes, field observation in classrooms and examination of school’s social media were conducted in addition to the interviews. Data analysis was accomplished by consolidating, reducing, and interpreting the interviews via coding and categorizing to produce the study themes. The study concluded the importance of social media as school principals’ contemporary mode of communication. The ‘Group Chat’ is a profound feature that acts as a systematic and organic communication conduit for school principals in support of their decision-making and problem-solving processes. As their communication becomes more effective via social media, findings suggest that it may have a positive effect on their job performance and the overall productivity of the school. Social media, particularly Facebook, is the current public relations channel to promote school success as well as to establish, engage in, and strengthen the relationship between schools and stakeholders in support of school progress. Third party involvement via social media significantly boosts school principals’ networking and public relation practice. Teachers’ collective learning for professional growth is visible in both online learning and traditional training methods. Teachers’ ICT use in teaching and learning is evident in these schools and has resulted in students’ engagement and classroom learning by way of developing positive learning attitudes and autonomous learning. In addition, since stakeholders play a major role in school success, school principals practice a ‘Good Working Relationship’ as a strategy to encourage stakeholder participation. The global and digital age is here to stay. ICT and the Internet have proven to be the latest and most important conduits in effective communication and in the decision-making process. The school principals in this study have not just adapted but also leveraged technology and the Internet’s media-rich environment, enabling them to support their digital leadership practices. Thus, digital leadership has made its way into Malaysian schools and will continue to be prominent for years to come.

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Additional Metadata

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subject: Educational leadership - Malaysia
Subject: Educational technology - Malaysia
Subject: School principals - Effect of technological innovations on
Call Number: FPP 2022 13
Chairman Supervisor: Professor Wong Su Luan, PhD
Divisions: Faculty of Educational Studies
Depositing User: Editor
Date Deposited: 10 Oct 2023 07:53
Last Modified: 10 Oct 2023 07:53
URI: http://psasir.upm.edu.my/id/eprint/104763
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