This study was aimed at finding out the influence of communication patterns on administrative performance of secondary school principals in Ebonyi State. When principals fail to adhere strictly to effective and acceptable communication patterns, achievement of school objectives will always be at the crossroads. Similarly, poor communication patterns in school system dwindle and prevent understanding and co-operation among staff. This study therefore, become imperative with a view to advance remedial steps in the event of poor communication patterns among secondary school principals in Ebonyi State. The study was carried out with five (5) research questions and three (3) hypothesis. The researcher‟ developed questionnaire was the instrument used in collecting data from 141 principals and 423 teachers randomly selected from the 141 state-owned secondary schools in Onueke and Afikpo Education Zones used as sample for the study. From the reactions of the respondents, the following two major findings were made:
That the communication patterns adopted by principals have influence on staff and students-personnel administration including school-community relationship;
There are prevalence of conflicts and disagreements between principals and staff
resulting from poor communication patterns. In view of these findings, it was
recommended that principals should adopt appropriate and acceptable communication
patterns in interacting with staff, students and as well, the community to ensure
effective administrative performance in school system.
Background of the Study
Communication is one of the major tools for effective and efficient implementation of schools‟ programmes and objectives. Principals, staff and students communicate about all matters necessary for the smooth running of school affairs. It is observed that communication is the mainstream of any organization. Hence, it is very important in school administration that essentially school cannot survive without (Roy, 2010). In other words, principals and staff must of necessity communicate in the pursuit and accomplishment of school goals and objectives. There is general awareness of critical role of communication in institutional set up world over. Consequently, several definitions of communication have been proffered.
According to Awutua-Efebo (2001), communication refers to the conveying of information or knowledge from one person to another. Vale (2000), defined it as the exchange and flow of information and ideas from one person to another, involving a sender transmitting an idea to a receiver. Similarly, communication involves the interchange of facts, thoughts, values and opinions and may take the forms of face-to-face conversation, conferences, memoranda, hand-set calls, letters and formal or informal meetings among others (Okeke, 1997). From these definitions, it is obvious that communication involves the process of conveying information with the aim of influencing the attitudes and actions of others through proper expressions of guidance and directives to achieve desired goals (Barnett and Greenough, 2004). Barnett also
opined that communication achieves its objectives when the information is appropriately relayed and clearly understood. This means that communication is the appropriate and clear relay of ideas, information and thoughts between and among persons (Berlo, 2009). To effectively communicate, one needs to select the communication patterns that will enable one to transmit the intended idea.
Communication patterns should therefore, involve various processes, means and skills to ensure sound message delivery. In essence, it is those processes, means and skills to communication are collectively referred to as communication patterns. Similarly, communication patterns connotes those regular means through which effective communication can take place (Hornby, 1981). Therefore, the term „„communication patterns‟‟ generically covers the processes, types, forms, channels, styles, and flow of communication (Baluska, Marcuso and Volkmaun, 2009, and Roy,2010). Notably, effective communication exist in social system, including schools only when effective communication patterns are properly adopted by the administrator. Principals of secondary schools as administrators, are expected to adhere to acceptably patterns of communication so as to achieve the global objectives of education
The success of a school is dependent on the collective performance of its staff. Egboka (2004), noted that such collective performance requires comprehensive and factual communication as regards what the school hopes to achieve, how it hopes to achieve its aims and when several activities should be carried out to ensure the achievement of the schools‟ aims and objectives. Montana and Charnov (2008), noted
that communication is essential for administration because all other attributes of the administrative process depend on, interwoven with, and exist through communication.
It is observed that when principals fail to adopt appropriate communication patterns, achievement of school objectives will always be at cross roads. Also, poor communication patterns in school system dwindle and prevent understanding and co-operation among staff. Thus, without the spirit of co-operation and understanding (esprit de corps), there can be no sense of direction. One of the aims of effective communication patterns in school is to foster good principal-staff relationships. Little (2002), noted that good principal- staff relationship is the existence of rapport between principals and staff, which fosters problem-solving approaches to instructional improvement which in turn, serve as the perfect indicator of effective administrative performance of school principals. Good administrative performance of principals thus represents an interactive relationship that exists among staff whereby staff discuss problems and seek solutions together, advice one another, learn from one another, exchange views, and as well think about school improvements in terms of communal efforts rather than individual actions.
It is apparent, that effective communication patterns in school organization is used to develop sound administrative performance needed for goal achievement. Goodlad (1998), pointed out that much of what happens in schools, including how staff act and react, are influenced either positively or negatively by the nature of communication patterns adopted. Lack of effective communication patterns as Obi
(1997) and Okezue (2001) noted, accounts for most of the problems in administration and implementation of schools programmes.
In schools where there is no proper communication patterns, principals‟ activities become subject to criticism among staff and students. Such situation quickly generates hatred, gossip and open quarrel among staff and principals. In this case, principals choose to form cliques and become selective in their relationships with staff. Similarly, cases of role conflict and cold war between principals and vice-principals including teachers have also been severally reported. When this condition persists, it breeds lawlessness in the school management. Most often, it brings undue transfer of staff as may be planned by the principal. It sometimes results in students‟ riots. For instance, cases of students‟ riots in secondary schools involving killing of staff and destruction of property have been reported. The students‟ riots of St. Aidan‟s secondary school Umuezeoka in Febuary, 2011 resulting in killing of a teacher and others injured, also the students‟ riots of Community Secondary School Oshiegbe in March, 2012 resulting in killing two police men and destruction of properties worth millions of naira, all in Ezza North Local Government Area of Ebonyi State represent the instances of students‟ riots.
All these administrative disorders imply lack of effective communication patterns and poor human relationship in the school system. This is because , when principals fail to adopt appropriate communication patterns in their school administration, such administration calls for what Berlo (2009), highlighted as local politics, hostile attitudes, indifference or lack of cooperation on the part of both the
staff, students and the school community. It is thus, very vital for principals to adopt effective communication patterns and make use of good channels to foster good relationships among staff and students in approximation towards achieving perfect administrative performance in the school system.
Communication channels are those mediums of communication that the principals employ to convey vital information to their subordinates, which could be verbal, non-verbal or combination of both (Akpawusi, 2002). Communication channels involve those directions and flows of communication in organizations, incorporating vertical, upward, downward, horizontal, sideways or lateral flow of communication (Ngoka, 2000). In order to maintain effective communication channels, communication skills are involved. Communication skills according to Nwachukwu (1998), involve those techniques that people adopt while exchanging messages between one another and dependent on manner and dispositions of the sender. These skills include; creativity, collective bargaining, coercive and transactional skills.
Creativity skill of communication is act of applying creative ability to conveying information in a way that facilitates changes in a problematic situation. Collective bargaining skills are those communication skills which an administrator uses in his official matters. School principals can use this style in working with the Ministry of Education or the State Post Primary School Service Commission (PPSSC).Coercive skill involves the application of praise, guidance counseling, persuasion, flattering or actual force to secure ones way. While transactional skills
include the skills of direction, authority, instructions and sanctions to achieve organizational goals.
The influence an administrator (principal) has among his/her staff and students is partly a matter of his position in the communication channel as well as his communication skill competence (Obi, 1997).The school administrator who maintains proper and effective communication patterns within the school system is most likely to facilitate communication to enhance effective teaching and learning. Thus, principals should endeavour to propagate and adopt sound communication patterns that breed effective administrative performance in the school. This is to check all sorts of administrative ineffectiveness, inefficiency, and in all, school administrative bottle necks. It is noted that where the appropriate communication patterns are neglected or ignored, the entire functions and activities in such organization (school) is bound to grow into extinction. Therefore, effective communication patterns become the solid foundation upon which an effective and efficient administrative performance is anchored.
In all, Chester in Appleby (1994), stressed the need for effective communication patterns to occupy a central position in organizational set-ups. This is because the structure and scope of organization are almost entirely determined by communication patterns adopted.
Regrettably, however, despite the indispensable value of communication for fostering effective and efficient administrative performances in school management. It is observed that in secondary school administration, there is prevalence of conflicts,
and disagreements between principals and staff. Poor communication skills of principals such as not communicating friendly to teachers and non-tutorial staff in delegating functions, non-utilization of valid and reliable information sources in communication and not conveying decisions to teachers have also been reported (Kilo, 2002)
Similarly, Onah (2001), established that several acts of teachers‟ non-compliance with the principals‟ directives greatly reduce the administrative effectiveness and efficiency. According to Okezue (2001), pointed out that where teachers fail to comply with the principals‟ directives, teachers‟ indiscipline soar and students‟ learning are highly hindered. In this situation, teachers and principals including students often clash and fail to achieve the school objectives (Nwankwo,2001).
It thus, appears that good communication patterns needed for fostering effective administrative performance have not been achieved in many secondary schools, particularly in Ebonyi State, and may be a major reason why conflicts and poor students‟ academic performances characterize most secondary schools in the area (Nwachukwu, 1998).
Other major instances include the open enmity that always exist between the principal and other staff resulting from suspicious financial management practices of the principal (Ekume,1990). This has actually caused so many administrative problems in secondary school administration .It is of the notion that some principals in Ebonyi State go as far as making enmity with any staff who tend to sought for
clarification on how school fund is being retired . All these situations amplify poor communication patterns in school administration.
Also, some principals most often fail to communicate school matters to the communities through Parents teachers‟ association (P.T.A) and therefore, fail to involve them in some aspects of school administration (Nwankwo,2010). Thus, principals see themselves as warlords and as such, create unhealthy school-community relationship. Community/communities here can be referred to as body of people living in the same locality and sharing common heritage, views and willingness to work together. In essence, these people may not actually meet up with this modern trend of development regarding their needs as a community without a school. In other words, school can not exist without community/communities. It is expected that the primary function of a school, is to serve the community where it is located. When principals neglect the above expectation, such situation may not be unrelated to poor communication patterns. It may be that, some of the communication patterns available for effective and efficient school administration are not freely applied in the schools.
In all, it follows therefore, that since effective communication patterns influence progressively the administrative performances of school principals, principals and teachers need to adopt sound communication patterns and skills in order to communicate in a friendly manner in running the affairs of school. Crucial to this need is an empirical investigation on the communication patterns (types, forms,
channels, flow and skills) essential for good administrative performance of secondary school principals in Ebonyi State.
Statement of the Problem
Principals and staff of secondary schools are expected to communicate very well in order to maintain good organizational climate in schools that ensures sound administrative performance. It is essential to note that communication can only be effective when its objective is achieved. Thus, communication goes beyond mere sending of a word or words to the next person, because hearing is one thing while to understand is another thing entirely.
The problem of this study originated as a result of non-adherence to appropriate communication patterns by secondary school principals in Ebonyi State. Despite the core value of adopting effective communication patterns in school system, many secondary schools in Ebonyi State still leave much to be desired in terms of effective communication. Some principals communicate with their staff as if the staff are slaves and not colleagues. Some order staff about, shout at them, criticize them before the students. During supervision, many principals criticize and condemn teachers even before students. It has been observed that some school heads in Ebonyi state hoard vital information from staff and use unclear statements in delegating tasks.
Consequently, some staff gossip against their principals, some prefer gathering what some writers call “painted information” from typists, messengers and grapevine. It is not rare to see teachers in Ebonyi state using rude words in response
to principals‟ directives and even demanding resources from principals in abusive languages. These situations imply poor communication patterns in school system.
Based on the above facts, it is clear that certain problems exist and it is of much concern to this researcher hence, posed to ask: what are the influence of communication patterns on administrative performance of secondary school principals. In view of this, the researcher embark on this study to investigate through the opinion of principals and teachers the influence of communication patterns on administrative performance of secondary school principals in Ebonyi State.
Purpose of the Study
The main purpose of the study is to investigate the influence of communication patterns on the administrative performance of secondary school principals in Ebonyi state. Specifically, the study seeks to: