THE EXTENT TO WHICH THE ADMINISTRATORS’ COMMUNICATION ABILITY PREDICTS EFFECTIVE MANAGEMENT OF PUBLIC SECONDARY SCHOOLS
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1.1 Background of the Study
Communication is the state of exchanging information between entities. Communication is concerned with the transmission of information, directions, ideas, feelings, attitudes and understandings (Uyanga, 2002, Polintan, 2012). When communicating, there must be the sender of a message (communicator) and the receiver of a message (communicatee). It is therefore the means for interacting among the personnel within a school. In the school, an administrator who is an effective leader and problem solver must apply a range of communication strategies every day. Good communication straightens activities, smoothen the work and makes for organisational goal achievement and employee’s satisfaction. It is almost impossible to run any social organisation successfully without effective communication ability from the administrator. Therefore, the administrators’ communication ability is a very important and effective tool in the smooth running of secondary schools since the school itself is a social agent (Uyanga, 2002).
In the secondary schools, the principals are the school administrators. A school administrator is one who oversees the affairs of the school by directing, managing and executing the plans of education in order to attain the goals and objectives of education. This the administrators can accomplish through effective communication ability. Communication ability here is one’s capability for fruitful exchange of information and interaction between people. It includes speaking, listening, writing, reading and interpersonal abilities. Communication is first thought out in language before it is finally expressed in speech. Speaking ability is the capability of an administrator to make simple and clear speeches. The basic ingredients of good speeches are; simplicity, clarity, directness, forcefulness and pleasantness. In order words, a good speaker should make their speech as natural as possible so as to achieve maximum effect in the audience with minimum number of words. Every form of speaking should involve some teaching as the speaker presents the listeners with information, thoughts, reflections, new visions and plans. In speech communication, the speaker needs the feedback to know whether the listeners understand the information or not. Listening ability requires active listening to “get inside” the speaker’s head in order to understand the communication from the speaker’s point of view (Habaci, 2013).
Active listening could be improved through: making eye contact with the speaker, exhibiting affirmative nods and appropriate facial expressions, avoiding distracting actions or gestures, avoiding interrupting the speaker, allowing the speakers to complete their thoughts before responding, asking in words what the speaker had said, avoiding over talking and making smooth transitions between the roles of the speaker and the listener (Robbins and Hunsaker 1996, Habaci, 2013). In addition to listening ability, the school administrator is expected to have a good writing ability. Writing ability here means the capability to write simple and concise sentences with readable handwriting. Writing is the most common form of communication used in the school system. In written communication, messages can be edited and revised many times before it is actually sent. A good writing ability is influenced by the sequence of letters or symbols used in forming words. It is influenced by the vocabulary and grammar used, writing style, precision and the clarity of language used. Also, the environment which one develops can affect one’s ability to learn how to read and write (National Reading Panel, 2000).
Thus, the school administrator is expected to exhibit an effective writing ability as this will enable the receiver to fully understand and send appropriate feedback. Moreover, written communication provides record for every message sent and can be saved for later study. Messages may be printed or hand written. These messages can be transmitted via e-mails, web sites, faxes, brochures, advertisements, letters, reports or memos. Poor communicators avoid passing down information to their subordinates through writing and do not back up verbal messages with memos. This can lead to communication breakdown. Written messages should be in readable handwriting.
Reading ability is also very needful by secondary school administrators. It is the ability to recognize and read messages effortlessly. Administrators that read effortlessly have clear reading goals and can easily identify relevant information while reading. Reading ability can be as a result of a person’s understanding of messages. For the administrators to communicate without hitches, they also need to develop good interpersonal ability in addition to their reading ability. Interpersonal ability enables a person to interact positively and work effectively with people. Interpersonal relationship is “ability to get along with people” and “have good human relationship”. Hence, it is believed that good interpersonal ability will aid the secondary school administrators in the management of both human and material resources (Peretomode and Peretomode, 2001). It is also observed that the greater the density of relationship within the organisation, the greater the efficiency of the organisation. Thus, interpersonal ability of administrators’ enhances the existence and management of good relationship among staff and students (Min and Yong, 2014).
School administrators are expected to have comprehensive communication ability and leadership personalities. Habaci (2013) citing many sources maintained that with this ability, school directors can construct an effective school culture and organisational setting, thereby developing teachers’ satisfaction and maintaining a reliable educational environment. In the schools, there is need for school administrators to communicate both horizontally and vertically and to develop their communication with employees. Administrators’ should also establish information officers to ensure proper flow of information. This would remove communication barriers and open new channels of communication. Thus, school administrators are responsible for communication within the school (Habaci, 2013).
When secondary school administrators do not make adequate use of their communication abilities, they become poor communicators. They do this by interrupting other people while they are speaking, believing that they know exactly what the other person is going to say, which may make people feel frustrated. When people feel frustrated, they would no longer be willing to share their views and feelings. This often leads to one sided communication. Administrators should avoid one sided communication and multi-tasking while listening to people. It has also been observed that great communicators place much emphasis on listening than speaking. Thus, educational administrators should have a good listening ability because where there is lack of good communication ability, problems may arise (Akinnubi and Gbadeyan, 2015).
More so, they should be an effective and extensive use of oral and written forms of communication to supplement informal communication when necessary. To achieve this, administrators’ have to establish as guiding principles, openness and trust. Openness here means giving information that staff need in order to get work done. McGerry (1991) explained that communication and trust are essential if educational services are to be improved. To improve educational services administrators should establish trust through the formal and informal channels of communication in order for the school to get their task accomplished (Ergin and Biroi, 2005).
Poor communication ability exhibited by some school administrators while carrying out their responsibilities may negate achievement of the goals and objectives of the secondary school education. Poor communicators do often multi-task when they are listening to people. Too often, leaders make assumptions that the people they are engaged with have the same level of understanding of the subject matter being discussed and their perception of a situation is the same as theirs, this is another sign of poor communicators. Great communicators do place emphasis on listening than talking. When leaders take time and listen to the views and thought of others, they will learn more. While listening to others, administrators should avoid multi-tasking. If one expects to communicate effectively, you need to listen and pay full attention to others as they speak. Again, poor communicators often react emotionally and erratically when communicating. These can make it difficult for those at the receiving end to anticipate how the communication has progressed. All these have resulted in people being nervous while communicating (Cummings, 2013, Habaci, 2013).
Also, some leaders avoid communication. This is a common occurrence when a difficult conversation is anticipated. People with low confidence will tend to ignore opportunities to pass on difficult messages with the result that communication vacuum only serves to increase the size of the problem. Again, when problems arise, choosing an inappropriate method of communication can create or abate the situation. While choosing a particular method of communication, consideration should be given to the impact and perception gained for the communication route we choose to use. The chosen route should be giving people facts about a situation and should be sufficient enough to influence them into following a particular course of action.
Also, rules and regulations can be maintained within the school when there is a free flow of communication. For free flow of communication in educational organisation, formal messages should flow both downward and upward (Anukwu, 2011). That is, from super-ordinate to subordinate and vice-versa. In downward flow, messages are sent from the school Board members or Ministry of Education to the school administrators’ and down the line to the students. The risk here is that messages often change due to misinterpretation, distortion and blockage. In upward flow, of course, messages from the students gets to the Ministry. This type of communication flow is not common in educational organization, but it is very important. This can help the administrators to get a feedback from those they administer to and thereby have new ideas for improvement. The adverse effect of this upward flow of communication is that it does not allow people to voice out their minds the way they would have loved to, instead, the subordinates say what they feel may interest the super ordinates. Therefore, for effective co-ordination of school work, the school administrators should make effective use of communication ability while managing the school (Bursalioglu, 2002).
Management in any organisation is to initiate, direct, activate, control and monitor the functioning of the different organs of the system. Management sees that all the available resources of the organisation are harnessed towards achievement of the goals and objectives of the organisation. Management therefore involves planning, decision making, supervision, control and discipline among other functions (Akinnubi, 2010). All these functions can be maximized with good communication ability of the administrator. Administrators who are saddled with the task of coordinating and directing workers’ activities towards achieving set goals should determine how communication flows within and outside the school system in order to achieve set goals. To achieve goals, administrators have to be effective in communicating. Communication is directly associated with all management processes. In the secondary school, the school management requires judicious use of human and material resources in order to effectively meet educational goals and objectives (Akinnubi, 2010).
Effectiveness is the art of producing the result that is intended to produce successfully. Also, effectiveness is seen as an end product in terms of results and productivity (Oyedeji, 1998, Hornby, 2002). Therefore, effective secondary schools managers should be producing successful results. Egwuasi (2004) sees effective communication as face-to-face interaction between people working to establish and maintain mutual trust and understanding. Egwuasi (2004) explained that in an organisation like that of the school system, interpersonal communication becomes very paramount and this is often supported by the appropriate written, spoken and broadest communication materials, memos, newsletters, news releases, speeches, videotapes and other media which must be designed to clearly convey messages that support the interpersonal communication that precede or follows. Thus to achieve effective communication, it is the responsibility of the school administrators to participate in communication, motivate people, discourage gossip, respect varied views and make use of different communication tools (Sisman, 2012).
Thus, the administrators’ participation in communication will aid in fulfilling the goals and objectives of secondary school education. For these goals and objectives of the schools to be accomplished, the schools need effective planning. Planning is a vital process in effective management of school. It is the process of thinking about and organising the activities required to achieve desired goals. It involves forecasting with preparation of scenarios. Planning is a process of thinking about and organising the activities required to achieve a desired goal (Wikipedia, 2015). Planning involves creation and maintenance of plans. It is designed to move an educational organisation through the steps of understanding changes in the external environment, assessing organisational strengths and weaknesses, developing a vision of a desired success and ways to achieve that mission, developing and implementing specific plans and motivating that implementation so that necessary changes can be made (Wikipedia, 2015).
In the schools, there is need for proper planning because limited funds have to be fairly allocated to various components within the school system. Every administrator is required to develop an annual school management plan that outlines its most salient goals and action plan for the current year. These plans have to be put forward in form of writing through newsletters and bulletins. Thus, the school administrator is expected to take time to plan towards the day-to-day management of the school and developing their decision making (Wikipedia, 2015).
Decision making is another important tool in school management especially in the secondary school system. Decision making is the process of selecting a logical choice from the available options (Business Dictionary, 2016). Therefore when trying to make a good decision, the administrators must weigh the positives and negatives of each option and consider all the alternatives that are available. Administrators must also forecast the outcome of each option as well. Umo (2006) explains that as communication goes on in the school, decisions are taken to meet set goals. Thus the administrators’ decision here is a reflection of the organisational objectives, policies and plans. This gives the direction of the school. Therefore, school administrators’ needs to communicate their decisions to subordinates in order to achieve set goals.
For proper management of the secondary school system, there is also need for adequate supervision of human and material resources. Supervision is the process of bringing about improvement in instruction by working with people who are working with pupils. Supervisors of educational processes need to communicate effectively with staff. Thus, supervision involves giving directions, information, ideas, explanation and instructions from person to person or from group to group. Information here can be vertical or horizontal. Supervision can also be done through observation, evaluation or discussions. Therefore, no effective supervision can be done without communication between the teachers and supervisors. An effective administrator will not only supervise the activities of the school but will also device ways to aid teaching and learning activities of the school (Mbipom, 2000).
Some principals neglect the great task of supervision of curriculum and instructions and hide behind other managerial roles. This neglect can lead to conflicts and crises as instructions are not passed down. When administrators’ send out timely information and work closely with teachers, they will exhibit interest in their staff and will gain respect and love from them. Thus, through supervision administrators show interest in their staff’s welfare, displaying interpersonal ability which will in turn motivate and encourage them while discharging their duties. Thus, supervision sees that staff conforms to standards (Mbipom, 2000).
For the administrator to check if staffs are conforming to standards there is need for control in the secondary school system. Control is the ability to direct, influence or to limit a process or persons. Control sees that everything done in the school is in accordance with established rules and regulation. It is a standard for checking results. It is concerned with seeing that the operating results conforms as much as possible to the pre-determined goals and objectives of the establishment, setting up of standard and undertaking the necessary corrective measures where performance deviate from the plan and the expected result. Standards have to be set that will provide the basic for comparing actual output with initial set goals (Akinnubi, 2010).
To maintain the set standard, administrators should be disciplined. Discipline emphasizes the idea of training of the mind or character, resulting in an orderly behaviour in an individual (Wikipedia, 2015). The rules and regulations of the school have to be communicated to staff and students. This can be done by putting it up on notice board. Clearly stated standard of orderly behaviour which the school expects should be communicated to all concerned. When the administrator does not communicate effectively with staff and students in the school, indiscipline is most likely to set in (Obot, 2006). Thus, for discipline of school work, the school administrators should make effective use of various communication channels and media to curb indiscipline. They should make good use of both oral and written forms of communication to cut down on rumors and make institutional programmes known to all (Akpan, 1995).
More so, administrators should have an open channel of communication so that staff and students can air their opinions. This will certainly bring about discipline in both staff and students promoting good working relations. Again, inter-personal relationship existing between the super-ordinate and subordinate in the secondary school considerable influences the performance of the subordinate. Therefore when the administrator establishes a cordial relationship with staff and students, there is bound to be discipline in the school (Habaci, 2013). Also, if the administrator maintains a cheerful outlook, wanting staff and students to succeed, treating them with respect and friendliness, staff and students are bound to be discipline. To maintain discipline in the school, rules and regulations are often used. The rules should not be too strict or too rigid else it will encourage rule breaking.
From the review of the various studies conducted, none has been specifically carried out on Administrators’ communication ability and effective management of public secondary school in Akwa Ibom South Senatorial District of Akwa Ibom State. This has created a gap which this study intends to fill. Therefore, for proper management of secondary schools, the administrators’ needs to develop their ability to speak, listen, write, read and interrelate with people. Therefore, the extent by which administrators’ communication ability is extensively used in the management of secondary school affects how much planning, decision making, supervision, control and discipline can be effected while working towards the goals and objectives in secondary school in Akwa Ibom South Senatorial District of Akwa Ibom State.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
Every school administrator is involved in communication of information among staff and students while managing the school. Managers and administrators direct through communication. They primarily plan, make decisions, supervise, control and discipline the organisation through communication. In the secondary schools, managers are saddled with the task of equipping students to be good citizens and in preparing them for higher education. These tasks have not been an easy one because administrators need to provide favourable environment for teaching and learning by monitoring the activities within the school. This seems very difficult for them because of limited resources and poor funding. The available resources have to be circulated evenly to our various public schools. The administrators have to clearly plan on how to utilize the available resources and communicate the decisions made to all concerned.
Over the years, the researcher has observed that effective communication ability seems to be lacking in secondary school administration. This often results in communication breakdown which have given birth to several riots and strike actions noticed among students and staff. Some administrators lack the ability to carry their subordinates along because of ineffective communication and poor management behaviours. Thus, conflicts are common occurrences in secondary schools today due to poor communication ability of some school administrators. This has also led to indiscipline actions and behaviours that seem to affect schools on daily basis. Poor management attributes like poor planning, ineffective decision-making, ineffective supervision, lack of control and indiscipline among others has been observed among some secondary school administrators. This may result in ineffective management of secondary schools by administrators and the goals of the secondary schools seem far from being achieved.
This has become a problem even in Akwa Ibom South Senatorial District of Akwa Ibom State. Many researchers have sought to provide solutions to these problems but the problems still persist. The foregoing reported situation has necessitated the researcher to carry out this study, so that probably a solution could be provided to these problems. The question therefore is: To what extent does administrators’ communication ability predict effective management of public secondary schools in Akwa Ibom South Senatorial District? This research seeks to answer the question by studying communication ability as a predictor of public secondary school management in terms of effective planning, decision making, supervision, control and disciplining of public secondary schools in Akwa Ibom South Senatorial District of Akwa Ibom.
1.3 Purpose of the Study
The purpose of this study was to investigate into the extent to which the administrators’ communication ability predicts effective management of public secondary schools in Akwa Ibom South Senatorial District of Akwa Ibom State. Specifically, the objectives of this study were to;
- Determine the extent to which the administrators’ communication ability predicts effective planning of public secondary schools.
- Determine the extent to which the administrators’ communication ability predicts effective decision making of public secondary schools.
- Determine the extent to which the administrators’ communication ability predicts effective supervision of public secondary schools.
- Determine the extent to which the administrators’ communication ability predicts effective control of public secondary schools.
- Determine the extent to which the administrators’ communication ability predicts effective disciplining of public secondary schools.
1.4 Significance of the Study
This study will create awareness among secondary schools administrators and teachers on the need to develop good communication ability with students and fellow staff within the school. Thus, good working relationship within the school will be encouraged. This study will also provide information on administrators’ communication ability and effective school management. It will also help secondary schools administrators utilize their communication ability to accomplish assigned task at ease.
It will also encourage openness and trust among personnel within the secondary school. Also, where there is an effective communication, strike actions and riots will also reduce. It will also encourage Ministry of Education to train their school administrators by organizing seminars and workshops on school management. It is the researchers’ hope that this study will also contribute to existing body of knowledge on secondary school management.
1.5 Research Questions
This study sought to answer the following research questions.
- To what extent does administrators’ communication ability predict effective planning of public secondary schools?
- To what extent does administrators’ communication ability predict effective decision making of public secondary schools?
- To what extent does administrators’ communication ability predict effective supervision of public secondary schools?
- To what extent does administrators’ communication ability predict effective control of public secondary schools?
- To what extent does administrators’ communication ability predict effective disciplining of public secondary schools?
1.6 Null Hypotheses
The following null hypotheses were formulated and tested at .05 level of significance:
Ho1: Administrators’ communication ability does not significantly predict effective
planning of public secondary schools.
Ho2: Administrators’ communication ability does not significantly predict effective decision making of public secondary schools.
Ho3: Administrators’ communication ability does not significantly predict effective supervision of public secondary schools.
Ho4: Administrators’ communication ability does not significantly predict effective control of public secondary schools.
Ho5: Administrators’ communication ability does not significantly predict effective disciplining of public secondary schools.
1.7 Basic Assumptions of the Study
The study was conducted based on the following assumptions:-
- Communication ability and effective management ability varies per administrator.
- The responses by the respondents (teachers) were true and unbiased.
1.8 Delimitation of the Study
This research is delimited to administrators’ communication ability and effective management of public secondary schools in Akwa Ibom South Senatorial District of Akwa Ibom State only. Private and Technical secondary schools were not part of the study. The variables on communication ability were; speaking ability, listening ability, writing ability, reading ability and interpersonal ability only. Also, secondary school management variables of interest in the study were planning, decision making, supervision, control and discipline only. The study was conducted in 2014/2015 school year in Akwa Ibom South Senatorial District only. (Source: Ministry of Education, Akwa Ibom State, 2015).
1.9 Operational Definition of Terms:
Communication Ability: This is the capability of an administrator to exchange information and interact with people effectively through speaking, listening, writing, reading and interrelation.
Effective Management: This is the secondary school administrators’ commitment to their managerial role in order to produce successful results while performing their assigned duties.