Implementing computer education: The role of the primary principal

John Schiller


The introduction of computers into schools has placed unique pressures on school principals to implement change. Therefore, knowledge of how principals effectively manage staff and pupil use of computers is essential. This paper reports on a study to investigate implementation of Computer Education. As an innovation in the elementary school, introduction and use of computers was not a requirement of the NSW Department of School Education, but depended on school-based decision making and initiatives. A combination of quantitative and qualitative data-gathering procedures was used in a selected sample of six urban, elementary schools in one educational region to investigate the relationship between the interventions of principals and implementation success of Computer Education, which was determined through use of multiple Concerns-Based Adoption Model (CBAM) diagnostic devices: Stages of Concern, Levels of Use and Innovation Configuration. Interventions made by principals and other key change facilitators were documented in self-report diaries and from regular semi-focussed interviews. Interventions were analysed according to an Intervention Taxonomy and compared across schools.

The study demonstrated that principals are key figures in successful implementation of Computer Education, because of the number and type of their interventions. In particular, those interventions of the principal, which have a monitoring and evaluative function, appear to be influential in determining the degree of implementation of Computer Education. Implementation success was greatest at schools where the principal demonstrated an 'initiator' change facilitation style as compared to a 'manager' or 'responder' style. The 'responder' change facilitation style was associated with least success in implementation of Computer Education. The study also demonstrated that interventions of other school-based change facilitators influenced implementation. Formation of a change facilitation team was important in successful implementation of Computer Education

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