Instructional leadership in Indonesian school reform : local perceptions and practices

  • Umiati Jawas

    Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


    School reform is a change in learning and other related internal conditions through a systematic and sustained effort to accomplish educational goals more effectively. It aims at raising students’ achievements by focusing on instructional process and improving schools’ capacity for providing better education. From reviews of empirical studies, similar emphases are found among school reform characteristics, basic leadership practices and instructional leadership dimensions. They require the practices of stimulating leadership, challenging expectations and learning climate, and frequent evaluations. The main goal is for a change in the teaching and learning process that is oriented to high expectations of student achievement. The reviews also point out the instructional roles of principals as school leaders in contributing to the growth of student learning and development, through teachers as a mediating variable. Empirical studies on school reform have indicated the need to explore change process in relation to socio-cultural contexts. The Western framework of change process is seen to have cultural limitations when applied in different contexts. In Eastern contexts, particularly Asian, socio-culture is a major factor in determining the success or failure of the change process. Therefore, it becomes essential to conduct more cross-cultural comparative studies to appreciate local knowledge and practices in initiating changes. This study sought to explore and examine local perceptions and practices of instructional leadership in Indonesian school reform. It was driven by the contradiction between reform goals and educational performance in this country. Instructional leadership was used as the lens of the examination because of its ability to develop strategies for leading, teaching, and learning in schools. study was guided by a pragmatism worldview that highlights the use of pluralistic approaches to get a complete description of the problems being investigated. An exploratory sequential mixed-methods design was the method used in this study. The qualitative phase focused on concept discovery and development of instructional leadership practices generating from in-depth interviews with principals and teachers from senior secondary schools in Malang Regency, Indonesia. Twenty participants participated in the interviews. The follow-up quantitative phase was intended to complement the qualitative findings to attain more robust research results. Questionnaires were distributed to seventy four senior secondary schools from similar region. Fifty seven principals and 371 teachers returned completed questionnaires. From the qualitative phase, participants’ accounts revealed a strong focus on instructional improvements. There were four expected areas for the improvements to take place: curriculum, teachers’ professionalism, learning facilities, and students’ learning outcomes. The expected improvements were reinforced in the practices of managing, promoting, improving and assessing instruction. Some of the practices were local practices influenced by either Indonesian socio-economic, cultural or educational values, or the combination of such values. The root of these local practices could be linked to referenced instructional leadership models and findings of recent studies on direct effects of school leadership on student achievement. This strengthened the applicability of the practices while at the same time reinforcing the universality of the application. Some mismatches and overlaps of the categories of the identified practices with referenced instructional leadership models might indicate some common characteristics among the categories. This opened up opportunities for future research to compare and contrast the characteristics of the practices in multi-cultural contexts to affirm their categories. The identified perceptions and practices were further investigated through distribution of a survey in the quantitative phase. The findings suggested that some of the identified perceptions and practices were found to be limited aspirations and not reflected in a larger scale. Although there was a significant awareness of the importance of instructional leadership practices, it did not necessarily lead to increased frequency of the practices and the subsequent perceptions of their influence on instructional improvements. The findings also showed different perceptions between principals and teachers that indicated their different priorities in instructional improvement efforts taking place in their schools. The findings suggested a change in the existing school culture to amend how principals and teachers positioned instructional responsibilities between them and how each of them could contribute to the improvement process. The findings recommended that more promoting and improving of instructional practices be performed by principals. The findings also implied the need for a constructive mindset towards performance evaluation, particularly in the form of classroom supervision and teaching feedback. This required the presence of a mutual trust between principals and teachers. Since instructional programs were more directed by results from external evaluation, there needed to be an increased confidence in the use of authentic internal evaluations. Broader and more meaningful engagement of parents and communities in instructional programs was also recommended.
    Date of Award2014
    Original languageEnglish
    SupervisorFrancesco Sofo (Supervisor) & Robert Fitzgerald (Supervisor)

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