Influence of principals’ leadership styles on students’ achievement in Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education in Awendo district, Kenya
In this era of accountability, principals are being called upon to exercise strong instructional leadership in their schools. They are faced with the task of increasing student achievement while maintaining order through acceptable student behaviour which may require changing school performance. The purpose of this study was to determine the influence of principals’ leadership styles on students’ academic achievement in K.C.S.E in Awendo district. Specifically, the study sought to determine the influence of principals’ autocratic, democratic and laissez faire leadership styles influence students’ achievement in KCSE. It also to establish the influence of principals’ transformational leadership style on students’ performance in KCSE in Awendo district. This study was anchored on the contingency theory of leadership suitable for assessing the leader according to underlying traits; situations faced by the leader and construct a proper match between the two. This model was used to determine principals’ styles effectiveness in schools. The study was conducted using the ex-post facto design where the principals’ leadership styles and students’ performance were assumed to have occurred and could not therefore be manipulated by the researcher. The target population consisted of the 18 public day secondary schools in Awendo district which consisted Form one to Form four classes. This study targeted 18 schools that had done KCSE for at least two years. Teachers (180) and head teachers (18) were the target respondents for this study. Simple Random sampling was used to select 114 teachers from schools and then purposive sampling techniques to select the 15 principals from 18 of the selected schools after the random sampling. This sampling gave a total of 129 respondents consisting of 15 principals’ and 114 teachers. Questionnaires were used as the tools for collecting the data from both the teachers and principals. These questionnaires were designed based on the objectives of the study and on the literature review. The researcher used the test retest method to enhance instrument reliability. The study yielded data that required both qualitative and quantitative analysis. Quantitative data was analyzed using SPSS while qualitative data was organized into themes and patterns based on analysis of meanings and implications emanating from respondents information and documented data on academic performance. Quantitative results of data analysis were presented in mainly tables, and pie-charts. Contingency theory explores leader effectiveness on the basis of prevailing situations. Linking the results of this study to the school leadership, it is expected that, principals exercise good leadership skills and experience for quality results to be realized. The study was to establish leadership styles that are largely used by principals influencing academic achievement of the students. The study also was to establish if the lowest academic achievement consistently experienced in the schools was as a result of principals exercising autocratic leadership style without blending it with participatory leadership. As part of recommendations, principals should use democratic form of leadership as this type of leadership style involves all the other parties in the school and thus creates a better environment for teachers to work well, and enhance higher academic performance in K.C.S.E. Principals who use autocratic leadership enacts dictatorship and free reign where teachers are not self-driven and others use laissez-faire where teachers are self-driven. Given the scope and limitations of this study, the researcher recommends a replica of the study to be performed in upper primary schools to determine whether the same variables derived from this study would be the same as those at primary level. The study should also cover other districts apart from Awendo district to provide comparison in findings.