Principal leadership and the integration of information and communication technologies for teaching and learning in Zimbabwe
This study aims to address the under-researched relationship between principal leadership and the successful implementation of ICT policy in Zimbabwean schools, by examining the roles that principals play and exploring the knowledge, perspectives and practices of school leaders on ICT integration. The study utilises a theoretical framework, comprising the distributed, transformational and pedagogical leadership perspectives and a sequential, explanatory mixed methods design. A sample of 280 principals from 1679 public secondary schools was purposively selected. Preliminary questionnaires provided quantitative data from which descriptive statistics were derived. Deeper analysis using factor analysis, sampled t-tests and correlation techniques revealed significances and relationships. Open-ended focus group interviews and documentary analysis were then conducted with fifteen principals to provide qualitative data from which themes and categories were identified. By aggregating all of these results, a thick description of the situation was built up. Four major findings were obtained. Firstly, school principals had limited knowledge of pedagogical integration of ICTs. Secondly, the majority of theprincipals’ preferred pedagogical leadership compared to transformational or distributed leadership, due to the bureaucratic and hierarchical nature of schools in Zimbabwe. Thirdly, principals showed awareness of their roles in setting direction, developing staff, redesigning systems, managing the curriculum and creating a conducive learning culture, albeit with limited involvement of staff in decisions. Finally, principals’ perspectives and understandings correlated with how they enacted their roles in support of ICT integration into classrooms. Overall, the study suggests the need for principals to be exemplary in embedding e-tools within schools. In adding to our understanding of the leadership role of principals in ICT integration for pedagogy in Zimbabwe, this study may be useful to educational leaders and policymakers. In particular, it is hoped that this study will help stimulate the development of a framework for school principals within which they can develop a shared vision, with teachers and students, for the effective instructional practices using ICTs. It is argued that this can be achieved by combining leadership approaches and promoting continuous professional development. The study suggests further lines of inquiry into linking principals’ perspectives, practices and implementing ICT policies in schools.