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«Investigating Teacher Trust towards Principal in High Performing Schools: Comparisons on Teacher Demographic Profiles Lokman Mohd Tahir1, Mohammed ...»

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Furthermore, Flores (2009) conducted an empirical study in Texas middle schools and found principal’s influence as a statistically significant predictor of trust among school teachers. Daly and Chrispeels (2008) also reported that the aspects of benevolence was pivotal in predicting the principals’ leadership from the perceptions of 292 site administrators and teachers in three districts in central and southern California. Their findings revealed that the traits of benevolence such as concern, understanding, listening, and support were some of the most powerful predictors of establishment of total trust. Then, using a mixed method design, Daly (2009) studied the presence of trust and leadership approaches in schools which were under the improvement program (IP) and schools with non-IP. Responses were collected from 453 teachers from IP and non-IP schools. His findings revealed that schools with IP program being led by participative and inclusive approach perceived higher level of trust and predicted lower levels of threat-rigid response compared to the schools without IP. Further study conducted by Wolfe (2010) at schools in the state of Virginia entailed the question whether the levels of trust have an empirical association with teacher job satisfaction. From the quantitative data analysis, the researcher found that principals’ behaviours while leading the schools have the central impacts towards teacher trust development.

Lee (2007) studied Korean schools mainly in the district of Seoul to examine the relationship between student-teacher trust, which believed to predict school success construct consisting of school adjustment, academic motivation and performance. The finding indicated that 318 students from 7th grade perceived that www.ccsenet.org/ass Asian Social Science Vol. 11, No. 5; 2015 their trust to their teachers plays a significant role in relation to their performance. Another study by Handford and Leithwood (2013) explored the principal leadership practices, which were interpreted as trustworthiness through 24 post-observational interviews with 24 teachers from high and low trusts schools. The findings indicated that teachers have trust towards their principal leadership practices based on trust indicators of competence, consistency and reliability, openness, respect and integrity.

In Malaysia, there are few researches in particular that studied the existence of trust in local schools. Using Tschannen-Moran trust framework, a study by Lokman et al. (2011) proved that the principals’ instructional leadership practices have an impact on the level of teacher trust, while the level of teacher trust also have an impact on teacher commitment to the school. As a result of the test using structural equation model it was found that teacher trust acts as mediator to the practice of instructional leadership variable to teacher commitment to the school. The study also found that trust in the principal has noteworthy values on teacher commitment towards the school. The success of a school typically relies on the positive connection between teacher trust and commitment. The relationship between trust and commitment exists when teachers have high satisfaction after needs are being met by the school leaders, while leaders also get satisfaction when employees attain high productivity and performance. Another study conducted by Abdul Ghani Kanesan et al. (2008) on organizational fairness, trust and altruism, also found that trust in the organization and its principals has a positive relationship towards the organizational fairness. Of the 116 senior administrative assistants who gave their responses to the questionnaire, it is found that 64 per cent of the variance change in teacher trust to the principal. Their study proves that when teachers or principals developed high level of trust believing the organizations are fair, appreciative and mindful of the contribution given, and then in return, teachers will increase their proactive altruism. Although previous studies elaborated that trust has much significance towards teacher commitment and job satisfaction, less emphasis is given to investigate teacher level of trust, which remained as an initial indicators of relationship between teachers with current school leadership practices.

The purpose of this exploratory study was, firstly, to identify the perceptions of teachers in five high performing schools with reference to their trust levels onto trust to their principal; secondly, to analyse the differences in teacher level of trust based on their demographic profiles such as gender, age, teaching experience, types of schools and academic qualifications; and finally, to examine whether teacher demographic profiles have significant influences on teacher level of trust.

3. Method

3.1 Design and Participants Since this study is descriptive in nature, it employed the survey design method (Cohen, Manion, & Morrison, 2003), and data was collected from 199 teacher respondents from purposely selected five high performing schools namely the elite, premier, urban, sub-urban and control categories through an original survey instrument.

The instrument sought teachers’ perceptions concerning the level of trust towards their principal competencies.

The distribution of teachers according to their gender entails that male teachers comprised 28 per cent that gives a total 0f 34 teachers. As for the female, a total 165 teachers that gives a total of 51.5 per cent responded to the survey instrument. In terms of their age, most teachers that participated in this study aged twenty-five to thirty years old. The second highest numbers of teachers that involved in this study aged between 31 and 35 years old followed by teachers aged between 36 and 40 years old that gives an overall of 26 teachers. As for teachers aged between 41 and 45 year old, the total number is 19, which also an equal number for teachers aged between 46 and 50 years old. The analysis revealed that only 11 teachers aged between 51 and 55 years old and only three teachers aged between 56 and 60 years old participated in the study.

In terms of teacher academic qualifications, majority of teachers in the high performing schools were bachelor's degree holders (n=176, 88.4 per cent) and only 19 teachers possessed a master's degree (9.5 per cent). The analysis also revealed that only four teachers hold Diploma qualification from various educational institutions.

Teacher demographic profile also showed that most teachers that participated in this study have being teaching in high performing schools between one and five years (n=58, 29 per cent) followed by teachers with six to ten years of teaching experience (n=48, 24 per cent). The analysis also showed that 29 teachers with teaching experience ranged from 11 to 15 years, and another 19 teachers with teaching experience ranged from 21 to 25 years responded to the survey. Furthermore, the analysis revealed that, 33 teachers with teaching experience between 16 and 20 years, and only 12 teachers who have being teaching for more than 26 years participated in the study. As for school type, they are categorised into five types which comprised the high performing: (a) the elite; (b) urban; (c) sub-urban; (d) control and (e) premier schools. As for teacher sampling, 45 teachers were selected from the elite category, 39 teachers from the urban category, 40 teachers from the control, 30 teachers www.ccsenet.org/ass Asian Social Science Vol. 11, No. 5; 2015 from premier and 45 teachers were from the sub-urban category. Precisely, 250 questionnaires were administered to the sampled six high performing schools. Of the total questionnaires administered, only 199 were returned accounting for a 79.6 per cent response rate.

3.2 Instrumentation The present study applied a translated version of Tschannen-Moran’s trust scale used in examining teacher trust onto principal, which was translated to Malay by the researchers since most teachers were locally educated in Malay language. The translation process used the Brislin’s (1970) back-to-back translation approach. The questionnaire consisted of two major sections. Section one, comprises eight items entail teacher demographic profile such as gender, teaching experiences, age, academic qualification and types of schools, and section two, comprises 28 items, which were the translated Malay trust scale from Tschannen-Moran’s (2004) facet of trust.

This questionnaire using a five-point (1=strongly disagree to 5=strongly agree) Likert scale was clustered into five dimensions of trust: (a) benevolence, (b) reliability, (c) competence, (d) honesty and (e) openness. Before the questionnaire was administered to the teachers, the researchers employed a subject matter expert approach for content validity. In this study, the measurement of internal consistency was based on the Cronbach alpha values and the findings showed the values ranged from 0.931 to 0.948, which demonstrated practical importance of the scales (Hair et al., 2010).

3.3 Data Analysis Descriptive analysis was used to illustrate the distribution, frequency, percentage, mean and compilation of data in a table. Inferential statistics including t-test and one-way ANOVA in responding to the teacher demographic profiles were also used. T-test was used to examine gender differences, while one-way ANOVA was used to evaluate the difference of perception for teacher demographic criteria of age, teaching experience, types of schools and academic qualifications. In determining the influence of teacher demographic profiles to teacher trust, stepwise regression was used to test the predictor variables (teacher age, teaching experience, academic qualification, types of schools and gender) and criterion variables (levels of teacher trust). Using the stepwise approach, the R2 is measured and beta weight coefficient is also being identified in determining the significant predictor for teacher trust level.

4. Results

4.1 Factor Analysis and Data Normality Before proceeding with data analysis, data normality was checked by analysing the Q-Q plot and histograms and Kolmogorov-Smirnov tests, which provides fundamental characteristic prior to performing inferential statistic and data analysis (Chang et al, 2013). An exploratory factor analysis (EFA) was utilized to determine the factor loadings of the Malay translated version of Tschannen-Moran’s (2004) facets of trust. The results reveal satisfactory factor loadings for trust construct, ranging from.5 to.7, indicating practical importance of the loadings (Hair et al., 2010’ Steven2002). The issue of low item loading resulted in omitting one item which failed to fulfil the inclusion criteria (≥.5) as such, 27 items were retained for further analysis. Overall, the data indicates that the account of variance across trust scales were higher than 0.70 per cent, which are the cut-off values emphasized statisticians (Hair et al., 2010; Tabachnick & Fidell, 2012). Factor analysis procedure was conducted separately for each trust construct. Kaiser Meyer Olkin (KMO) value was at 0.890, while for total variance explained was 73.1 per cent.

4.2 Measuring Teacher Trust Based on the first research objective related to whether teachers in the high performing schools have trust onto their principal, descriptive statistics comprised the mean scores and standard deviations revealed reasonable values as presented in Table 1.

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From Table 1, the facet of openness has the highest mean scores (mean = 0.76; SD = 0.67) followed by reliability (mean = 3.68; SD = 0.83) and competence (mean= 3.68; SD= 0.71). The last two lowest mean trust facets were the honesty and benevolence. Honesty facet has a slightly higher mean score (mean = 3.67; SD= 0.69) and the lowest mean score was benevolence facet (mean = 3.55: SD = 0.72). The overall mean score indicated that teachers have high level of trust towards their principal in leading high performing schools with mean score of 3.67 (SD=0.72). Additionally, the researchers also measure the all five teacher trust scale using the descriptive statistic of frequency and percentage to determine teacher trust patterns related to their levels of agreement and disagreement to their principal which presented in Table 2.

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Table 2 depicts the descriptive findings of the five scales of teacher trust; benevolence, reliability, competence, honesty and openness. Data from Table 2 shows that teachers in high performing schools rated their principals as leaders with high levels of trust in the honesty and openness scales compared to other three facets which were reliability, competence and benevolence. Rigorous analysis of the five facets revealed that teachers in high performing schools seemed to agree that principals in high performing schools practice openness facet (82 per cent), which showed principals at high performing able to make themselves vulnerable to teachers when they frequently shared relevant information within their school compound. At the same time, principals in high performing schools create reciprocal positive interactions and build teacher confidence. As seen from the table, the second highest facet of trust is the honesty facet (65.3 per cent) followed by reliability (61.7 per cent), benevolence (57.5 per cent) and competence facet received least degree of agreement from teachers in high performing schools (53.4 per cent). The overall levels of teacher trust onto principal indicates that 64.6 per cent of teachers in high performing schools trust their principal compared to only 9 per cent of teachers who does not trust their principal.

4.3 Differences Based on Teacher Demographic Profiles In addressing the second research question, which examines whether there were statistical significant differences in relation to teacher trust with reference to their gender, age, teaching experience, types of schools and academic qualifications. In analysing teacher gender, a t-test was executed and the findings were summarized in Table 3.

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