Executive coaching for school principals : a qualitative evaluation study of an executive coaching programme for school principals
Thesis (MPhil)--Stellenbosch University, 2012.
Purpose: The study was a qualitative evaluation on the impact of executive coaching as an intervention in improving the leadership capabilities of school principals. It was a pilot study of underperforming schools selected by the Gauteng Department of Education (GDE) project. The coaching intervention provided for one-on-one coaching for school principals and team coaching. The target group was thirty school principals, selected from underperforming primary and secondary schools in the Gauteng Province of South Africa. The GDE determined that school leaders and their teams, besides being confronted with many challenges of overcrowding and poor infrastructure, lack leadership capability and this negatively affects the quality of teaching and management of the schools. Compared to other leadership coaching interventions in schools in South Africa, this coaching intervention included team coaching (the management teams were coached with their principals), making it a unique feature of this coaching intervention. Design/methodology/approach: The evaluation study used qualitative methodology with an empirical design; based on an interpretative and inductive approach. The research focused on behavioural change, level three of Kirkpatrick’s evaluation model (1959). The participants’ reactions to the coaching intervention were also sought (level one of Kirkpatrick’ evaluation model). The sample used came from thirty underperforming schools identified by GDE using specific criteria. The main sample consisted of four principals from schools allocated to the researcher who was also one of the coaches. A supplementary sample of two principals from the same cohort was selected, but the researcher did not coach these. Landelahni Leadership Development Company (LLD), the contracted consultant for the project, selected the coaches. The data collected were 360-degree feedback, field notes from the coach and semi-structured interviews. The three data types were used to triangulate for control of error, as the researcher was an insider. Findings: The main findings demonstrated a positive impact of the executive coaching on the leadership capability of the school principals. The three sources of data in sample X (principals coached by the researcher) are complementary and indicated a positive behavioural shift and change in all four principals, confirmed by sample A (the principals not coached by the researcher), also indicating a positive behavioural shift in the interview data. The positive behavioural change addressed level three of Kirkpatrick’s evaluation model (1959). Overall, the coaching intervention raised awareness and behavioural change relating to management such as increased delegation and working more with their teams. Participants’ responses were positive with all six principals and teams recommended the continuation of the intervention and rollout to other schools. However, the findings indicate the principals still need to make more changes in their leadership approach. The key areas of concern are teaching deliverables and the facilitation of team dynamics; for example, conflict management. v The extent of the behavioural change was limited by the short duration of the coaching intervention. Research limitations: The key limitation is the fact that the researcher was the coach for this coaching intervention and an insider researcher. As typical of qualitative research, the sample was small and therefore the findings are not generalisable, but may be useful in similar contexts. Future research considerations: For future research, doing such a coaching evaluation study, a design, which enables evaluation of the impact on the learners’ outcomes, should be adopted. Contribution of the study: The study adds to the body of qualitative evaluation and empirical research in the coaching profession of which there are a limited number of studies. The findings may also provide strategic input for the GDE’s decision on whether to rollout the coaching intervention to other schools.