Investigation of Principals' Technology Leadership Profiles in the Context of Learning Organization Culture and ICT Infrastructure: F@tih Project Schools vs. the Others

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Although there is a growing body of literature about the integration of information and communication technologies (ICT) into K-12 schools and the ways how individually school principals can lead and support these initiatives, little is known about
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    Education and Science Vol 41 (2016) No 188 83-98 83 Investigation of Principals’ Technology Leadership Profiles in the context of Schools’ Learning Organization Culture and ICT Infrastructure: F@tih Project Schools vs. the Others Köksal Banoğlu   1  , Ruben Vanderlinde   2  , Münevver Çetin 3   Abstract   Keywords   Although there is a growing body of literature about the integration of information and communication technologies (ICT) into K-12 schools and the ways how individually school principals can lead and support these initiatives, little is known about to what extent principals’ technology leadership (TL) practices are predictable by school’s organization culture and present ICT infrastructure. Hence, in this exploratory study, we set out to classify Turkish principals by their TL practices into discrete TL profiles, taking individual, cultural and infrastructural factors into consideration. The five standards of International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE-2009) were taken as the measures of TL practices. Some main components of the learning organization (LO) culture such as team learning, shared vision and systems thinking disciplines were regarded as the measures of school culture. Principal’s age and gender demographics, computer and internet usage frequency, school’s F@tih project status and teachers’ perception of LO culture were used as predictor variables. The current study surveyed 1105 teachers and 58 principals from 69 K-12 public schools located in Istanbul city. Latent class analysis (LCA) was used to assign principals to distinct TL profiles. Afterwards, logistic regression analysis was undertaken to determine significant predictors of the outcome TL profiles. The results revealed that Turkish principals assume two different profile of TL practices, leveled as high and low profiles. Almost 55% of the principals were delineated in the high-profile structure due to their strong interest to perform ISTE standards, whereas 45% of the principals were classified in the low-profile structure because of their relatively poor interest in the standards. The most striking result to emerge from this research is that Turkish principals are most likely to perform high-profile TL practices when having: a) run a F@tih project school; b) used internet technology more frequently, c) managed a school in which teachers perceive a higher level of team learning LO culture, changing odds ratios from 4 up to 26 times higher. Technology leadership ISTE standards Fatih project Learning organization School culture Latent class analysis   Article Info   Received: 06.13.2016 Accepted: 12.02.2016 Online Published: 12.30.2016 DOI: 10.15390/EB.2016.6618 1  Ghent University, Faculty of Educational Science, Belgium , koksal.banoglu@ugent.be  2  Ghent University, Faculty of Educational Science , Belgium ruben.vanderlinde@ugent.be  3  Marmara University, Atatürk Faculty of Education, Department of Educational Science, Turkey, mcetin@marmara.edu.tr    Education and Science 2016, Vol 41, No 188, 83-98 K. Banoğlu  , R. Vanderlinde, & M. Çetin 84 Introduction Turkish Ministry of National Education (MNE) have been in a constant struggle for providing Turkish schools with modern information and communication technologies (ICT) since the early 80’s (Tezci, 2011). Nevertheless, such early efforts focused on mainly ICT teaching issue rather than extending ICT-supported learning environment. However, at the beginning of the new millennium, foreign-invested “World Bank Basic Education I and II” project placed the most remarkable milestone in Turkey’s ICT integration history by granting 300 millions dollars worth of ICT classrooms with computers and neccesary equipments (World Bank, 2002). Ultimately, in 2010, MNE has introduced Turkey’s largest technology investment project with a great enthusiasm, namely “Movement to Increase Opportunities and Technology Project”, also known as “F@tih Project" by its Turkish acronym (“Fatih Project”, 2012). Total budget of this project has reached around 1.8 billion USD (Uluyol, 2013). Though the project was initiated in 4 pilot schools at the outset, its scope was extended over 17 provinces and 52 schools in 2012. According to project’s master plan, nearly 620.000 classrooms should have been equipped with interactive smart boards, digital projectors and laptop until the end of 2015 (“Fatih Project”, 2012). However, due to some unforeseen contractual problems in tender offers, only 10% of the project has been completed until today and hence it was prolonged for three years until the end of 2018 (Ministry of National Education [MNE], 2015). Beyond its enormous financial and indisputable technical capacity, F@tih project was nevertheless criticized by some Turkish scholars on grounds of poor technology leadership (Gök & Yıldırım, 2015; Hoşgörür, 2013; Vatanartiran  & Karadeniz, 2015), deficient human resource management (Günbayı  & Yörük, 2014), overlooking the present resistance of traditional school culture (Vatanartiran & Karedeniz, 2015), inadequate professional development facilities (Hoşgörür, 2013) and lack of follow-up technical support (Akkoyunlu & Baskan, 2015; Banoğlu, Madenoğlu, Uysal, & Dede,  2014). Vatanartiran and Karadeniz (2015) categorized these factors under three main themes such as executive, infrastructural and instructional issues. In this paper, we placed a particular focus on the executive (e.g. school culture) and infrastructural (e.g. school’s ICT capacity) themes in order to scrutinize principals’ TL practices. Technology Leadership and Learning Organization Culture The execution of TL practices is not subject to any fixed leadership position occupied by a sole school actor, but rather a school characteristic and change management process embedded in the whole school context (Davies, 2010; Keller, 2005). Nonetheless, many studies support that school principals continue to play a key role in leading ICT integration processes in K-12 schools (Anderson & Dexter, 2005; McLeod, 2008; Yee, 2000). Studies have shown that principal’s leadership practices (Anderson & Dexter, 2005; Tan, 2010; Yuen, Law, & Wong, 2003), ICT using experience (Gurr, 2000; Schiller, 2003; Polizzi, 2011) and training level of technology (Dawson & Rakes, 2003; Polizzi, 2011) contribute to the success of ICT integration in K-12 schools. Having a clear and unequivocal set of TL standards is of utmost importance to principal leadership whereby diverse educational and professional communities could agree on common and effective TL practices to promote ICT integration (Richardson, Bathon, Flora, & Lewis, 2012). In this sense, International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) suggested five sets of standards on what school principals should know and practice about educational technologies (International Society for Technology in Education [ISTE], 2009; Richardson & McLeod, 2011). ISTE is a non-profit professional networking organization whose TL standards adopted or adapted by 80% of the states in USA (Kanematsu & Barry, 2016; Schrum, Galizio, & Ledesma, 2011). Not only international research but also Turkish ones paid a considerable attention to ISTE standards and hence these standards gained a high popularity in Turkish TL research (Cakir, 2012; Hacıfazlıoğlu, Karadeniz,  & Dalgıç, 2010, 2011; Sincar, 2013). Investigating the F@tih project schools and ISTE standards therein, Güven (2015) indicated that school principals in F@tih project are inclined to self-report their TL  Education and Science 2016, Vol 41, No 188, 83-98 K. Banoğlu  , R. Vanderlinde, & M. Çetin 85 practices in moderate and high levels, whereas teachers perceive principals' TL practices in lower level (Şahin & Demir, 2015). ISTE (2009) standards are composed of:  1)   Visionary leadership, 2)   Digital-age learning culture, 3)   Excellence in professional practices, 4)   Systemic improvement and 5)   Digital citizenship standards. Of these standards, “visionary leadership” inspires a shared technology vision, ICT planning and budgeting in schools. Developing a detailed technology plan consistent with objectives of the school and district level strategic plans is also detailed in this standard. The “digital-age learning culture” offers principals to be model of school community as ICT-oriented instructional leaders. The “excellence in professional development” focus on ICT-related professional growth by providing teachers with the needed time and resource. The “systemic improvement” is related to principal’s networking and data-driven decision making activities while recruiting technology literate new staff or evaluating teacher-student performance. The “digital citizenship” set and develop education policy of ethical, equal and fair ICT use in schools (Richardson & McLeod, 2011). When the underpinnings of leadership practices are examined, three main factors come to the fore in the leadership literature: leader’s personal traits, behaviors and school’s organizational context (Daugherty, Mentzer, Lybrook, & Little-Wiles, 2013). Traditionally, technology leaders have been profiled on their leadership traits and behaviors as tech-savvy and role-model principals with operational know-how knowledge of computers and relevant software applications (Cooley & Reitz, 1997; Crouse, 1997; Roberts, 1997). Recently, however, such a “heroic” TL understanding has gradually lost its popularity in the leadership literature. (Gurr, 2004; Tan, 2010). Instead, recent research have paid far more attention to contextual factors such as school culture and school improvement conditions (Tondeur, Devos, van Houtte, van Braak, & Valcke, 2009; Vanderlinde, van Braak, & Dexter, 2012). For instance, Flanagan and Jacobsen (2003) have addressed five core features of TL practices: student engagement, shared technology vision, equal and fair access to ICT, teachers’ professional development and ubiquitous infrastructural networks. Likewise, Dexter (2008) identified three sets of TL practices in relation with social, cultural and infrastructural school contexts as follows: a) generating a shared technology vision in collaboration with teachers b) stimulating a professional learning environment among teachers and c) maintaining educational ICT equipments. This shifting focus on the contextual variables inspired a great interest in the learning organization (LO) culture. Senge et al. (2000) have founded the term LO culture on “five disciplines” (i.e. “tools”; Senge, 1990) whereby all educational stakeholders could express their aspirations and new ideas by “shared vision” and “team learning” culture; build awareness on schools’ systemic stucture and their personal thinking ways by “mental models” and “systems thinking” culture; develop their professional capacity by “personal mastery” culture. Dexter (2008) have particularly set apart the pivotal role of team learning, shared vision and system thinking cultures in improving TL practices. Some other researchers considered the existence of LO understanding neccesary to refine a proper school culture supporting ICT integration process (Anderson & Dexter, 2005) and strengthen technology-oriented cultural change in schools (Flanagan & Jacobsen, 2003). Numerous empirical study found that LO culture encourages teachers to adopt ICT tools in their teaching activities (Divaharan & Lim, 2010), to promote fruitful collegial collaboration (Dexter, 2011) and to foster a strong commitment  Education and Science 2016, Vol 41, No 188, 83-98 K. Banoğlu  , R. Vanderlinde, & M. Çetin 86 to school’s technology vision (Yuen et al., 2003). Even it was laid down as a condition of an innovative school culture building technology-rich learning environment in schools (Law, Yuen, & Fox, 2011). Purpose of the Study Despite the abundance of available theoretical and empirical literature, however, not much is known about the extent to which: a) principal demographics b) technology-oriented principal  behaviors, c) the LO school culture and d) ICT infrastructure could predict principal’s TL practices. Therefore, there is a need to take into consideration all these individual, school-related cultural and infrastructural variables in relation with principals’ TL practices. In order to fulfill such a research gap, the current study set out to profile principals’ TL practices in relation with their individual demographics (i.e. age and gender), technology-oriented behaviors (i.e. frequency of computer and internet usage), school’s LO culture (i.e. “team learning”, “shared vision” and “systems thinking’s” cultures; see. Dexter, 2008) and infrastructural conditions (i.e. involvement in the F@atih project). Rather than handling individual ISTE standards as dependent variables, we tracked the overall characteristics of TL by sorting out principals into sub- groups with similar TL practices (see. Samancıoğlu, Bağlıbel, Kalman, & Sincar, 2015). Such a clustering approach allowed us to interpret Turkish principals’ TL dispositions from a more holistic and visualized point of view. To that end, we addressed two research questions in this paper: 1)   In which profiles can Turkish principals’ TL practices be clustered? 2)   To what extent are principals’ demographic features, computer and internet usage frequency, schools’ LO culture and ICT infrastructure able to predict these TL profiles? Method   Research Population The current study surveyed 1163 participants, 1105 teachers and 58 principals from 69 public schools located in the Maltepe province of Istanbul city. Of the schools, 42% were primary schools (n=29), 32% were middle schools (n=22) and 26% were secondary schools (n=18). Almost in the same percentages, 41% of the teachers were sampled from the primary school level (n=456), 33% from the middle school level (n=363) and 26% from the secondary school level (n=286). About 38% of the Turkish school principals surveyed were primary school principals (n=22), 36% were middle school principals (n=21) and 31% were F@tih project secondary school principals (n=18). As for gender demographics, the large majority of the principal participants (90%) were male principals (n=52), whereas about two thirds of the teacher participants (70%) were female teachers (n=745). These statistics are consistent with the general concern about the gender inequality in the distribution of school principals and teachers, as reported that 84% of principals are male but 64% of teachers are female in Turkish schools (“Women in Turkey”, 2016). The average principal age was 48 years old (SD=8.83; Minimum=31; Maximum=62) and the average teacher age was 40 years old (SD=8.80; Minimum=22; Maximum=69).  Education and Science 2016, Vol 41, No 188, 83-98 K. Banoğlu  , R. Vanderlinde, & M. Çetin 87 Procedures Given the nested data structure with teachers clustered in schools, the sampling frame involved the multistage data collection procedures (Crano & Brewer, 2008). According to two-stage sampling design, the first stage focused on the selection of the teacher units (i.e. schools). After obtaining the prior research permission from the Maltepe governorate, a total of 75 schools in the province were easily accessible to administer teacher and principal questionnaires in those schools. Of these schools, 69 ones accepted to participate in the study with 92% response rate. The second stage was to sample teacher participants. Thus, a ratio of 40% is used for each school to avoid oversampling teachers in small-size schools and under sampling them in large-size ones. As a rule of thumb, a sampling ratio over 30% is required for the research population of around 1.000 participants (Durrheim & Painter, 2006). Accordingly, a total of 1285 teacher and 69 principal questionnaires were administered in the participating 69 schools. After the elimination of missing and invalid data, 86% and 81% response rates were respectively achieved for teachers (n=1105) and principals (n=58). Research Instruments The principal questionnaire consisted of two parts. In the first part, principal demographics of age and gender were collected through an open-ended form. Besides, principals’ computer and internet usage behaviors were measured by ordinal frequency metrics on a 5-point item, whose options range from 1 (weekly 0-2 hours) to 5 (weekly 12 hours and more). At the end of the first part, principals were asked to make his/her mark through a binary option about whether their school is a F@taih project school or not. The second part of the questionnaire included 32 items of the Technology Leadership Scale (TLS) developed by Banoğlu (2012). Scale items measure principals’ TL practices by five sub -scales  based on ISTE standards (i.e. visionary leadership, digital-age learning culture, systemic improvement, excellence in professional development and digital citizenship). Principals’ responses are rated on a 5-point likert-type measurement instrument ranging from 1 (never) to 5 (always). Sample items from these subscales are -for instance- “I consider important the presence of a school technology plan aligned witht he school strategic plan.” (visionary leadership); “I make sure teachers design technology-enriched and efficient lesson plans.” (digital-age learning culture); “I ensure teacher involvement in professional development activities just as planned in the school technology and strategic plans.” (excellence in professional practice); “I endeavor to collect qualitative and quantitative data with a view to assessing ICT using level in the school.” (systemic-improvement); “I raise teacher awareness for ethical and lawful ICT usage that may be violated by students in their student homework and research.” (digital citizenship). The TLS demonstrated sound psychometric properties with respect to validity and reliability in the srcinal s cale development study (Banoğlu, 2012). According to the related report, the use of exploratory factor analysis (EFA) was conducted through varimax rotation since this rotation technique permits estimated factor loadings to become less correlated among factors but more homogeneous within each factor structure (Field, 2009; Tabachnick & Fidell, 2007b). Cronbach’s α values pertaining to the sub-scales are found to be .93 for the visionary leadership standard, .91 for the excellence in professional development standard, .88 for the digital citizenship standard, .93 for the digital-age learning culture standard and .79 for the systemic improvement standard of TL. Having checked the normality of data, EFA results yielded a five-factor solution with factor loading ranging from .52 to .84
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