Photo voice and group discussion: an action research in the improvement of school management

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School leadership and management behavior of principals should be suited to the context of the school. By the context of the school, it means the culture or the ethos of the school. As a result, it is important to know who and what constitute the school culture? A review of the literature on organizational culture would inevitably show that the teachers, the students and all the stakeholders determine the culture of the school. A principal’s leadership style and management behavior should be suited to the culture of the school if he/she is to bring any changes or improvement to the institution. In other words, he/she has to identify correctly the strengths and weaknesses as well as the resources of the school. No two schools are the same and each school has its own characteristics. What works in one school does not necessarily mean that it will work in another school. There is no “one size fits all”.

Culture in Malaysian context is greatly different from that of the West, which unfortunately where most of our references are based. Malaysians are more communal and “give face” to their superiors. Teachers shun from giving negative comment on their colleagues and they shy away from reporting problems to their superiors. Besides, Malaysian teachers’ own knowledge, which they have accumulated from years of experience have not been put to good use and usually not recognized. With action research and specifically by incorporating photovoice and group discussion, these teachers are given a voice to air the problems of the school and at the same time they can also voice their opinions and knowledge is given the recognition without having to feel uncomfortable. Together with the principal, these teachers are able to form their own living education theory because value is given to their experiences and knowledge.

By using an action research methodology, and by incorporating photovoice and group discussion, the study reports a general improvement of the school. Teachers are given the opportunities to have ownership of their work and successes that they have achieved. Teachers are able to develop their potentials and become leaders in their own right. At the end of the study, there is improvement in team work among the teachers and everyone comes to school feeling happy and wanting to contribute to the progress of the school. The principal has her own living educational theory. Other successes seen are, more value is placed on teachers’ professional practices, and there is a culture of inquiry, reflection and desire to learn among the teachers and of course the addition and expansion of knowledge.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages18
Publication statusPublished - 17 Nov 2008
EventFirst Malaysian-Thailand Joint Educational Research Conference 2008 - Selangor Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Duration: 17 Nov 200820 Nov 2008


ConferenceFirst Malaysian-Thailand Joint Educational Research Conference 2008
CityKuala Lumpur


  • Action research
  • photo voice
  • school improvement


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