Head teachers' conflict management styles and their effect on discipline in secondary schools in Central division, Machakos district, Kenya
The purpose of the study was to investigate head teachers conflict management styles and their effect on discipline in secondary schools in Central Division Machakos District. The study was guided by the main objectives which were to determine if avoidance as a conflict management style affects discipline, to determine if competition as a conflict management style affects discipline, to establish if compromise as a conflict management style affects discipline, to determine if collaboration as a conflict management style affects discipline and to establish if accommodation as a conflict management style affects discipline in secondary schools. Students' discipline is critical to the attainment of positive school outcomes. Level of students' discipline depends on whether the head teacher as the chief executive of the school is able to manage conflict positively. The study investigated the causes of conflict and found out that scarce resources, personality clashes, communication breakdown and unequitable treatment all were potential sources of conflict. Moreover, on types of conflict, it was revealed that types of conflicts include goal divergence conflict, cognitive conflict, affective conflict and role conflict. The study also found out that all four levels of conflict namely intrapersonal, interpersonal, intra group and inter group conflicts were prevalent in secondary schools in Central Division, Machakos District. These conflict were common among students and fellow students, students and teachers, teachers and teachers, students and administration and teachers and administration. The findings of the study indicated that there were different conflict management styles which were used in Central Division. It was with this understanding that this study was undertaken to investigate the background of increasing occurrence of conflicts in secondary schools in Central Division Machakos District. The study was to specifically establish whether conflict management styles employed by the head teacher have any effect on students' discipline. To address the management of conflict in selected secondary schools in Central Division of Machakos District, twelve secondary schools were selected through random sampling from total number of 30public schools from Central Division Machakos District which has three zones with a total of 30 head teachers, 1018 teachers, and 4161 students. Twelve head teachers, 54 teachers and 63 students filled the questionnaires. In the investigation both quantitative and qualitative methods were used using questionnaire as data gathering techniques with the alpha= 0.05 validity and reliability of data instruments were tested and ascertained. The study was achieved through literature review and an empirical investigation. Data were analyzed using SPSS. The study showed that conflict management styles by head teachers in Central Division secondary schools affect students discipline in the division. The study found out that head teachers conflict management styles have an effect on the discipline of students. This fmdings have important implications on school management with respect to training of head teachers on conflict management styles in order to enhance students discipline. The study recommends that school administration need to enhance communication among stake-holders in the schools, involve the students and teachers in the decision making so that they can feel that they are part and parcel of the school. Further studies can be done on the causes of conflicts and how to solve those conflicts.