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UNIVERSITY OF SOUTHAMPTON

FACULTY OF SOCIAL AND HUMAN SCIENCES

Southampton Education School

Principals’ Communication Style and Parents’ Involvement in School

by

Eng Lee, Wee

Thesis for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy
October 2011

UNIVERSITY OF SOUTHAMTON
ABSTRACT

FACULTY OF SOCIAL AND HUMAN SCIENCES
SOUTHAMPTON EDUCATION SCHOOL
Doctor of Philosophy
Principals’ Communication Style and Parents’ Involvement in School by Eng Lee, Wee

Communication skills have been recognised as critical to school leadership. The evolution of social culture, the complexity of human relations and the change in today‟s schooling systems require school leaders to be highly competent in their communication skills. The aim of the study was to explore the links between principals‟ communication styles and parents‟ involvement in Malaysian secondary schools. A comparative qualitative case study was employed. The conversations of three principals and six parents from three different schools were observed and video-recorded. The participants were also interviewed and field notes were taken throughout the fieldwork. Data were analysed using mu ltimodal discourse analysis based on the conceptual definitions and empirical indicators of communicative style adapted from Brandt (1979) and Norton (1978; 1983). Analysis of verbal, non -verbal and para-verbal observations and interview data indicate s that all three principals present very similar styles, namely friendly, open, relaxed, attentive and animated. The principals‟ communication styles are task-oriented and generally shaped by their roles and responsibilities as school leaders. However, the styles present by parents are more varied. They presented at least seven styles, namely friendly, open, relaxed,

attentive,

animated,

dominant

and

contentious

in

35−45

minute

conversations with the principal. The parents adopted daily communication styles that are generally shaped by the complex processes of socialisation and tend to show more complex styles of speaking in order to achieve their personal communication goals. The findings show that informal communication is the most effective way to encourage parents to become involved in school. Examination of ii

interview data with the principals and parents also concludes that being friendly, committed, respectful, transparent, appreciative and honest is the most influential way of building a meaningful school−home partnership.

iii

DECLARATION OF AUTHOR

I, Eng Lee, Wee declare that the thesis entitled
Principals’ Communication Style and Parents’ Involvement in School

is the result of my own work, except for quotations and summaries which have been duly acknowledged as sources of help.

Signed: _______________

Date

:_______________

iv

This doctoral study is dedicated to
my lovely wife, Lai Heng
my sons, Tze Wei and Jienn Shen
Thank you for convincing me I could do this

v

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

Many helping hands have contributed to this study. God has journeyed with me and applied His strength...
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