Emotional Intelligence And Locus Of Control As Predictors Of Teachers’ Instructional Leadership

  Recently, the reports of poor academic achievement of students especially in secondary schools have raised more attention and greater concerns among stakeholders in Nigerian education. Academic achievement or academic performance is the outcome of education, that is the extent to which a student, teacher or institution has achieved their educational goals (Ward, Stoker, & Murray-Ward, 2000). Academic achievement is commonly measured by continuous assessment or examination but there is no general agreement on how it is best tested or which aspects are most important, whether procedural knowledge such as skills or declarative knowledge such as facts (Stumm, Hell, & Chamorro-Premuzic, 2011). Irrespective of the method of academic measurement, Isangedighi (1999) observed that indiscipline, drug addiction, poor socio-economic background of the parents, inadequate motivation on the part of students, lack of information coupled with teachers’ nonchalant attitude to work and students’ negative self-concept have often resulted into students’ inconsistent and poor academic performances. Yoloye (1999) submitted that theories of educational disadvantages and social-cultural pathology have been most prominent in the explanation of poor academic achievement of students in schools. On the contrary, a growing number of scholars, have rejected this latter view and have suggested that many of the problems of learning are the artefacts of discontinuities which are brought about by the separation of learning from real-life functions and situations (Fagbemi, 2001) and by the exclusion of the child’s language, values and mode of cognition from the school environment (Ugodulunwa, 2007). It seems that the causes of low academic achievement are diverse and cannot be associated with a single factor alone. For instance, Adamu (1998) observed that self-concept and its variables may be a paramount factor in academic failure. Tukur & Musa (2001) attributed the causes of fluctuating performances among students to teacher-student interactions, intrinsic and extrinsic motivations, classroom behaviour and other extraneous variables. The above may be responsible for the academic achievement of students in the area of the study. In Enugu State, the academic achievement of secondary school students has been observed to be generally poor. A look at the West African Senior Secondary School Certificate Examination results in the past eight years (2005-2012) shows clearly the declining state of secondary school students’ achievements in external examinations in the state. The West African Certificate Examinations Council’s (WAEC) result analysis has it that in 2005, only 27.53% of candidates who sat for the senior secondary school certificate exanimation had five credit passes and above including English Language and Mathematics (WAEC, 2010). The same trend continued in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011and 2012 where only 15.56%, 25.54%, 13.76%, 25.99%, 24.94%, 30.99% and 25.76% of candidates respectively obtained five credit passes including English Language and Mathematics, which are the minimum entry requirement for admission into Nigerian Universities.

It is believed that many factors could be responsible for the poor achievements of the students in external examinations in the State. Such factors may range from the nature of school administration, and environment, to the qualification and teachers’ characteristics such as emotional intelligence, locus of control and gender. Ali (2004) observed that there was a statistically significant relationship between teacher characteristics and students’ academic achievement. The author further explained that teachers’ characteristics are strong determinants of students’ achievement in secondary schools. Teachers have a lot of influence on classroom practices. Teachers are expected to apply specific abilities without which their influence may not be reflected in their student's achievement in the subject. These characteristics are very influential in students’ learning experiences and critical in determining the extent of students’ achievement. This means that teachers’ emotional intelligence, locus of control and gender may predict teachers’ instructional leadership model which in turn determines students’ achievement since teachers provide the vital human connection between the content, environment and learner. It becomes necessary to examine such teacher characteristics as emotional intelligence and locus of control to determine the extent they predict teachers’ instructional leadership model in secondary schools.       

Leadership is very vital in every organization for the effective management of human and material resources required for the achievement of organizational objectives. Railey (2000) defined leadership as the act of guiding or directing others to a course of action through persuasion or influence. According to Bush (2003), leadership is the process of influencing people so that they will strive willingly towards the achievement of group goals. It is a relational attribute which emphasizes the behaviour of the person leading in terms of the behaviour of the person being led. Leadership in the context of this study refers to the process whereby the teacher exercises authority over the students in the classroom and coordinates the students’ activities toward achieving set educational goals. Leadership is not a mere exertion of brute power over those who are led. It demands qualities which make it possible for the leader to exercise authority beyond that guaranteed by virtue of the position.

           Leadership is of fundamental importance in any system such as educational institutions. Arinze (2011) postulated that a good leader manages resources efficiently to achieve goals; provides a sense of direction towards attaining individual and collective goals; allocates and utilizes limited resources for the satisfaction of the basic needs of the citizenry. Akume (2012) asserted that a good leader mobilizes resources for the attainment of consensus goals of the collective interest; makes decisions for the attainment of societal goals; extracts, produces and distributes channels towards promoting the good life for all in the polity; disciplines and subjects individuals positively to the orderly demand and sacrifice necessary to attain set goals. Based on the importance of leadership in society, teachers provide leadership in schools to achieve educational goals.

A teacher, according to Unachukwu (1990), is a person who attempts to help someone acquire or change some knowledge, skills, attitude, idea or appreciation. Obanewa (1994) stated that a teacher is someone who has undergone the necessary and recommended training in teacher preparatory programmes and is charged with the full responsibility of managing the classroom in such a way as to enhance the learning behaviour of the students. Obanewa further stated that some human qualities that may enable a teacher to achieve most educational goals in the school include the ability to master the subject; exercise self-control; take the right decisions and demonstrate good instructional leadership all the time.

Instructional leadership according to Heywood (2006) is actions taken by an individual to promote students’ learning. That is the leadership that encourages educational achievement by making instructional quality the top priority of the school. In the view of Zepeda (2008), instructional leadership is the dynamic delivery of the curriculum in the classroom through strategies based on different leadership models to ensure optimum delivery. Zepeda further explained that instructional leadership focuses on teaching and learning in order to realize the objectives. In the context of this study, instructional leadership means the adoption of different leadership models in the dynamic delivery of the curriculum to ensure the realization of its objectives. The forms of leadership demonstrated by teachers in schools, in this study, are referred to as teachers’ instructional leadership models. When the instructional leadership model is effectively utilized, all stakeholders can move forward in the knowledge that whatever the current economic, political or social climate might be, optimum teaching and learning are being achieved for their students.

Teachers adopt different models of leadership in schools based on their varying backgrounds and experiences. Lewin, Lippit and White (1939) stated that the major models of leadership include authoritative, authoritarian, and permissive. According to the authors, a teacher with authoritative instructional leadership demonstrates respect for every student in the classroom while sharing responsibilities with every student. Decision-making and communication are based on consultation, deliberation and participation among the students. This permits self-expression, creativity and teacher-student interaction. The authoritarian model of instructional leadership according to the authors emphasizes the achievement of the objective at the expense of human consideration. That is, the teacher takes decisions exclusively believing that students are weak, unwilling to study, incapable of self-determination and have limited reasoning. Therefore, they must be directed, pushed and forced to do work. With reference to the permissive model of instructional leadership, the teacher allows complete freedom to the students and they behave as they wish in the class due to the teacher’s tolerance. Students are usually left to study under their own instruction or supervision. These three models of instructional leadership are effective depending on the situation in the classroom. Though, each has its own strengths and weaknesses. For instance, an interaction between the researcher and 52 secondary school teachers in two external examinations (WAEC) marking centres in the area of the study revealed that 43% of teachers are authoritarian, 19% of teachers are authoritative while 38% of teachers are permissive in their instructional leadership. For this study, how emotional intelligence and locus of control predict teachers’ instructional leadership would be determined.    

Emotional intelligence is defined by Mayer (2002) as one’s ability to understand and regulate one’s own emotional responses as well as adapt and respond to others. Salovey (2002) viewed emotional intelligence more specifically as the ability to perceive emotions, access knowledge, reflectively regulate emotions and promote emotional and intellectual growth. Emotional intelligence could be concerned with understanding oneself and others, relating to people, adapting to and coping with immediate surroundings and being more successful in dealing with environmental demands. George (2000) observed that an emotionally intelligent person has the ability to understand the emotions of others and manage their moods in a social setting. This is in line with the statement of Robbins (2009) that when teachers understand the emotional state of their students, they may be more likely to convey a sense of efficacy, competence, optimism and enjoyment. Robbins further asserted that teachers who have high emotional intelligence are usually successful in the classroom. Teachers who have low emotional intelligence hardly understand students’ emotions and find it difficult to facilitate their learning and achievement. This implies that the level of emotional intelligence of a teacher may predict how he/she can understand the students and their environment and by implication the teachers’ instructional leadership. According to Hallinger (2000), emotional intelligence enhances instructional leadership by providing valuable information about practices needed to support teaching and learning. It enhances instructional leadership by creating a climate of support that thrives on interpersonal relationships. The author further stated that the ability of the teachers to identify and understand the emotions of students in the classroom manage their own and others’ positive and negative emotions, control emotions in the classroom effectively, utilize emotional information during problem-solving and express their feelings to others are important conditions that determine the forms of instructional leadership provided. Apart from emotional intelligence, another factor that may predict teachers’ instructional leadership in secondary schools is the locus of control.

           Locus of control according to Lefcourt (2000) is referred to as the extent to which individuals believe that they can control events and causes of their actions. This belief in turn guides what kinds of attitude, behaviour or model of leadership people adopt. The two loci as established by Lefcourt are the internal and external loci. Lefcourt stated that individuals who make choices primarily on their own are considered as having an internal locus of control.  Such individuals see themselves as the main cause of what happens to them and the success of the people they are leading. According to Perkins (2008), teachers with an internal locus of control are considered less susceptible to social influence; better information seekers; more achievement-oriented and better adjusted psychologically. Bush (2005) opined that individuals who exhibit high degrees of internal locus of control tend to be more assertive, confident and authoritative; and actively seek chances for achievement. Bush further maintained that this class of people have higher levels of job satisfaction; are more motivated in their work and encourage higher levels of participation in classroom work. This implies that teachers who have an internal locus of control are likely to be committed to their school work and demonstrate authoritative leadership for the achievement of educational goals. It also means that the more the internal locus of control of a teacher, the more the teacher engages the students in decision-making, innovation, undertaking projects, and leading rather than imitating the moves of competitors (Toulouse, 2002). According to Vanger (2006), some people have a predisposition to believe that they have more control over their environment than others. A teacher with an internal locus of control could view work-related challenges as opportunities to learn or advance.

 External locus of control is a belief of an individual who makes choices based on external forces or influence. Teachers who make decisions based on what others desire is said to have an external locus of control. Such teachers believe that the achievements of students in examinations and the future depend on luck, chance or the assistance of others. Sanders (2003) observed that people with an external locus of control may display an authoritarian or permissive model of leadership due to a lack of competence and dedication to duties. An individual with an external locus of control may find little meaning in the learning opportunity since it is believed that effort makes little or no impact on the learning situation. Under such teachers, students may not be committed to vigorously pursuing learning and the consequence may be a poor achievement.          

Gender is another factor which has been suggested to influence the instructional leadership model. It is the role ascribed to males and females by society. Richardson (2001) argued that one’s psychology, which may include one’s model of leadership, could be influenced by one’s gender. Ezeh (2013) stated that men and women flourish educationally when given the same supportive environment. According to Ezeh, it means that gender does not predict instructional leadership models. Therefore, one may wonder the extent teachers’ instructional leadership models could be predicted by the emotional intelligence and locus of control of teachers in Enugu State.

 

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Emotional Intelligence And Locus Of Control As Predictors Of Teachers’ Instructional Leadership In Enugu State, Nigeria

 

 

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