Gulf Comparative Education Society
I would like to share my PhD thesis abstract:
Globalisation and emergence of knowledge-based economies have forced countries to reform their education systems. The enhancement of human capital to meet modern day demands of a knowledge economy, and equip the new generation’s capacity to meet the challenges of the 21st Century has become a priority. This change is particularly necessary in economies typical of countries, such as Kuwait, which have been dependent on the exploitation of non-renewable natural resources. Transiting from a recourse-based economy to an economy based on knowledge and intellectual skills poses a key challenge for an education system. Significant in the development of this new economy has been the expansion of Information Communication Technology (ICT). In education in particular, ICT is considered as a tool for transforming the education setting. However, transformation is only successful where there is effective change management strategies and appropriate leadership. At the school level, rapid changes have affected the role that principals take particularly in relation to leading the change process. Therefore, this study investigated the leadership practices of school principals for embedding ICT into schools.
A case study was undertaken of two Kuwaiti secondary schools in which ICT was well established. A mixed methods design was used as the mode of data collection to address the purpose of the study, which was to examine the leadership practices of school principals when managing the change processes associated with embedding ICT in the context of Kuwait. A theoretical model of principal leadership developed from the literature was employed to document and analyse the practices of the respective school principals. Five sources of data were utilised, namely: (a) face to face interviews (with each school principal), as well as two focus group interviews (with five teachers and five students from each school); (b) school documents (related to the implementation and embedding of ICT); (c) one survey (of all teachers in each school); (d) an open-ended questionnaire (of participating principals and teachers); and, (e) ICT activities (PD ICT activities, instruction meetings) were naturalistically observed.
The study revealed a range of strategies that principals used that are aligned to theoretical perspective. However, these strategies needed to be refined and selectively used to accommodate the Kuwait context. Given the cultural and organisational constraints, principals adopted or emphasised specific strategies. The study revealed that in the two case schools three major strategies were employed by the principals to maximise their impact on teaching staff incorporating ICT into their teaching and learning practices, namely: (a) encouragement for teaching staff to implement ICT in their teaching; (b) support to meet the material and human needs of teaching staff using ICT; and (c) provision of instructions and guidance for teaching staff in how and why such behaviours and practices should be preformed. These strategies provide the basic leadership practices required to construct a successful ICT embedded implementation process. Hence, a revised model of principal’s leadership that has applicability to use ICT in Kuwait was developed.
The findings contribute towards a better understanding of how school principals’ leadership practices impact on embedding ICT. Hence, the outcome of this study informs emerging countries which are also undergoing major change related to ICT, for example, other members of the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf. From an educational perspective, this knowledge has the potential to support ICT-based learning environments that will help educational practitioners to effectively integrate ICT into teaching and learning that will facilitate students’ ICT engagement, and prepare them for the ICT development challenges that are associated with the new economy, by increasing students’ knowledge and performance. Further, the study offers practical strategies that have been shown to work for school principals in leading ICT in Kuwait. These strategies include how to deal with the shortage in schools’ budgets, and the promotion of the ICT vision, as well as their approach to building collaborative culture in their schools.