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					                                              Applying SLT to educational technology   1


                          Applying Hersey and Blanchard‟s

           Situational Leadership Theory to Evaluate Principals‟ Leadership

                      in Implementing Educational Technology

                                   James L. Bazar

                          Our Lady of the Lake University
                                                      Applying SLT to educational technology        2

                                Applying Hersey and Blanchard‟s

                Situational Leadership Theory to Evaluate Principals‟ Leadership

                            in Implementing Educational Technology

    The implementation of technology into education is not a luxury for our children, but a

necessity. The success of this implementation lies with the principals and teachers in individual

schools. The principal must understand the parameters necessary (ie. training, support and ample

release time) for technology implementation and enabling of teachers to provide students the up

to date job skills they will need (Inman & Mayes, 1998).

    The role of the principal is vital in the implementation of any program or activity. The

success of programs in any school hinges on the ability of the principal to manage authority,

discretion and resources (Archibald, 1999).

    A study by Ireh and Bailey (1999) used the Situational Leadership model to measure

superintendents‟ effectiveness in the secondary school academic setting. In their study, they

examined certain characteristics of school districts and the superintendents‟ leadership styles and

style adaptability as contributing to the success or failure of planned changes in schools. The

researchers related each independent variable, from a review of the literature on school reform

and district-wide planned changes for implementation, to the superintendents‟ leadership style

adaptability scores.

    The purpose of this study is to examine principals‟ leadership styles in the success or failure

of technology implementation in individual schools. The identification of two technology user

characteristics (age of user and gender) resulted from a review of the literature (Bradley &

Russell, 1997; Czaja & Short, 1998; Hoxmeier, Nie, & Purvis, 2000; Inman & Mayes, 1998;
                                                       Applying SLT to educational technology         3

Joiner, et al., 1998; Lin, 1998; Martin, 1998; Morris & Venkatesh, 2000). These characteristics

provide the framework for an examination of the principals‟ leadership styles.

    Research Question One. To what extent do characteristics and attitudes of principals toward

technology relate to leadership style scores on each dimension of Delegating, Participating,

Selling and Telling?

    Research Question Two. Is one style (S1-Telling, S2-Selling, S3-Participating, or S4-

Delegating) more effective in the successful implementation of technology?

    Hypothesis One. Principals who have positive attitudes toward technology will have a

positive effect on teachers‟ attitudes toward use of technology.

    Hypothesis Two. Principals who personally use technology will have a positive effect on

teachers‟ use of technology.



    The target population for this study will include principals from secondary schools within

the independent school districts (Northeast Independent School District, Northside Independent

School District, Alamo Heights Independent School District, Judson Independent School

District, San Antonio Independent School District and Harlandale Independent School District)

located in the San Antonio, Texas metropolitan area.

    The principals must be with the same school at least three years to qualify for the study.

This will allow for an adequate evaluation of principals‟ leadership style. The criteria set forth

will reduce the likelihood of principals not addressing (either proactively or passively) the issue

of technology implementation in the school.
                                                       Applying SLT to educational technology          4

Data Collection

   The researcher will measure the leadership task and relationship behavior of principals using

the Leader Behavior Description Questionnaire-Form XIII (LBDQ-XIII) instrument. Some

researchers believe the LBDQ-XIII is more accepted as an index of leader behavior than the

Hersey and Blanchard LEAD instrument (Blank, Weitzel & Green, 1990). The behaviors of

principals exhibit will be examined in relation to their ability to influence the use

(implementation) of technology by a majority of the teachers within the school. The two

dimensions of Task Behavior and Relationship Behavior are central in determining the

Leadership Style.

   The researcher for this study will construct a survey to measure the independent variables

necessary for the study regarding the principal, the school and the teachers. The survey will

utilize a five- to ten-point Likert type scales for variables that are not precisely measurable. All

other variables suggest responses in a way that can be measured by the corresponding answer

and grouped within specific ranges (i.e. Age between 30 and 35).


    For the purpose of this study, the following terms will follow specific definitions:

    Attitude toward technology – the level of personal comfort a person has toward technology

                    and its use.

    Computer literacy – the knowledge, both empirical and practical, to use a computer for basic

                    word processing, data entry, spreadsheet formation and the forming and

                    managing of files within each of the above.

    Successful implementation – when a school has 75% or more of its teachers using

                    technology within the classroom for the direct purpose of student learning. A
                                                      Applying SLT to educational technology          5

                   computer used solely by the teacher for administrative tasks would not


    Technology - will refer to the use of computers and any computer hardware/software.

                                          Literature Review

    The use of technology, in many forms, is increasing in a rapid fashion (Czaja & Sharit,

1998) and it is critical for the creation of the workforce of the future (Bradley & Russell, 1997).

In investigating the principals‟ role in implementing new programs, including technology, one

item that was very important was the principal‟s support of professional development (Blase &

Blase, 1999) which presupposes the principal‟s own use of technology. There are many factors

involved with the identification of those who use technology and those who do not use it. Studies

are numerous concerning the factor of age in the use of technology (Bradley & Russell, 1997;

Czaja & Sharit, 1998; Inman & Mayes, 1998; Morris & Venkatesh, 2000). A second factor

concerns the gender of the user of technology (Hoxmeier, Nie, & Purvis, 2000; Joiner, et al.,

1998; Lin, 1998; Martin, 1998).

Principals‟ Style of Leadership According to the Situational Theory

    Principals play a vital role in the life of the secondary school. Two major themes of

instructional leadership are: talking with teachers to promote reflection and promoting

professional growth (Blase and Blase, 1999). The implementation of technology falls within the

instructional leadership realm and it is necessary for both reflection and professional growth to

take place.

    If teachers are to make decisions regarding technology, empowerment of the teachers moves

to the forefront and the association between the principal and the teacher becomes very

important. This empowering takes place when principals promote the pursuing of similar goals
                                                      Applying SLT to educational technology       6

and promoting the good of faculty and students (Rinehart, et al., 1998). This empowering

behavior falls within the delegating and participating quadrants in Situational Leadership Theory.

    The Ireh and Bailey (1999) study reported superintendents who were appropriately able to

adapt their style of leadership to the level of maturity of the employees were more able to

promote and implement change. Blank, Weitzel and Green‟s (1990) study did not support the

assumption that leader behavior and subordinate maturity predict subordinate outcomes. They

concluded that the possibility exists that the affects of performance and satisfaction only take

place when behaviors carry values related to maturity.

    The two styles of leadership reported to be used by Ohio superintendents were Selling and

Participating, but it is known that effective school administrators use a variety of leadership

styles to meet the many demands of the numerous situations they face daily (Ireh & Bailey,


    The prescribed matches from a comparison of a one-way analysis of variance for Best,

Second Best, Third Best and Worst predictions at each level of subordinate readiness. The study

found at both low and high readiness, Selling was associated with the highest level of satisfaction

and Delegating as associated with the least amount of satisfaction. Both high and low readiness

subordinates reported the lowest level of overall job satisfaction with Telling and the highest

with Participating. With respect to organizational commitment, Telling was the least effective

leadership style for both high and low readiness. Selling was the most effective for low readiness

and Participating most effective for high readiness employees (Goodson, McGee, & Cashman,

1989). These results parallel Ireh and Bailey (1999) stating superintendents use Participating and

Selling, depending on the task/relationship balance. The findings also recorded no

superintendents using the Delegating Style of leadership.
                                                       Applying SLT to educational technology        7

    Many professions have employees who have higher levels of training, education and

experience due to an “across the jobs” perspective. This scenario suggests a higher level of

“maturity” than is likely observable in single-task jobs. Norris and Vecchio (1992) identified the

situational theory‟s notion of maturity to be task specific. As a result, its effectiveness in “multi-

job” professions may be limited. Ireh and Bailey (1999) supported the proposition that there

should be less emphasis on task or relationship behavior. The leader needs to know when to

transition from task and relationship as part of the improvement of leadership performance, again

showing a limitation in “multi-job” professions.

Age of Technology Users

    The use of technology has steadily increased in our society. People of all ages are being

“forced” to use technology as computer literacy is being championed as essential for the nation‟s

economic prosperity (Bradley & Russell, 1997). The studies vary as to the level of anxiety

toward technology and the use/non-use of various types of technology (Czaja & Sharit, 1998).

    The use of computers generally is a result of the amount of anxiety a person has with its use.

Bradley and Russell (1997) report on the major sources of anxieties people have in the use. “The

major sources of computer anxiety were „getting stuck and not knowing what to do next‟ (mean

= 3.07) and „not understanding the computer jargon and the messages it gives‟ (mean = 3.04)”

(pp. 275-276).

    The Bradley and Russell (1997) study combined all anxieties studied (including scrambling

information, erasing information, wasting time/money, getting stuck, looking silly, students more

knowledgeable, etc.) into three main categories of damage anxiety, task anxiety, and social

anxiety. None of the three identified anxieties varied with age.
                                                       Applying SLT to educational technology          8

    Czaja and Sharit (1998) also examined attitudes toward computers and found no age effects

for overall attitudes, but rather for specific attitudinal dimensions. The specifics regarding older

people were: they reported less comfort, less competence and felt less control over computers.

They also believed computers were more dehumanizing than younger users. This data is

positively related to the older users have less prior computer experience.

    Morris and Venkatesh (2000) present a picture that divides younger and older workers and

their use of technology. They state, “younger workers appear to be driven by underlying

attitudinal factors whereas older workers are motivated by social and process factors” (p. 392).

The older workers are also more influenced by perceived behavioral control (Morris &

Venkatesh, 2000), which may be related to social factors.

    Positive attitudes present concerning technology are speculated to be a result of younger

workers having more exposure through the work environment, whereas older workers have not

had the same amount of opportunities. The older workers are less likely to have the basic

knowledge necessary for technology use (Czaja & Sharit, 1998; Morris & Venkatesh, 2000).

    The younger workers relate the most important factor for technology use to be productivity

and effective results (Morris & Venkatesh, 2000). Younger individuals (mean age = 35) are more

prone to adopt the use of a personal computer due to their perception of greater advantages for its

use and express greater need for innovativeness (Lin, 1998).

    When adopting technology, age does matter (Morris & Venkatesh, 2000) and must be

considered in technology implementation. It is important to understand the process by which

technology is introduced and managed within organizations Older workers need opportunities for

“technology familiarization” prior to teaching specific details about software, etc. (Morris &

Venkatesh, 2000).
                                                       Applying SLT to educational technology         9

    The studies concerning age of technology users are summed up by the following. People

who are less likely to adopt the use of technology are significantly older than those who readily

adopt its use or are likely to adopt its use. Likely adopters and adopters are more closely related

in age In conclusion, the most common adopter profile is that of a young individual with more

discretionary income (Lin, 1998)

    One study of educational faculty stands on its own conclusions. It records that the age of

faculty member does not predict their level of technology use. (Inman & Mayes, 1998).

Gender of Technology Users

    The perceived conclusion, concerning gender, is boys/males are more comfortable, better

able to manipulate and enjoy technology more than girls/females. There are studies that show no

significance for a gender gap (Lin, 1998, etc), others that report girls are equal or better at

computer tasks (Hoxmeier, Nie & Purvis, 2000, etc.), and still yet, girls seem to be more

negative and fearful toward computers. In some cases, males have higher scores on computer

aptitude, math aptitude and experience with computers. Females scored lower on a test of

computer aptitude and id not have as much of the required math aptitude and experience

necessary for computer usage (Dambrot, et al., 1985). Another study also showed males to have

a more positive attitude toward math and were more comfortable and confident with computers

(Hoxmeier, Nie & Purvis, 2000).

    One major difference reported between the genders is, more males had completed a

computer course and knew a computer programming language. There was no statistically

significant difference between males and females in plans to major in computer science in

college or in past computer usage (Dambrot, et al., 1985). In addition, females believed they

should learn and are as capable of learning about computers as men. The main difference shown
                                                      Applying SLT to educational technology 10

was that women are not avoiding computers at a higher rate than men; rather, women are

avoiding the formalized education and careers in computer science (Hoxmeier, Nie & Purvis,


    Lin (1998) suggests an insignificant relationship between gender and technology adoption

suggesting the “gender gap” has largely disappeared. The study revealed no strong gender gap

between those likely to use technology and those classified as adopters or experienced users.

    There have been numerous reasons cited for the proposed gender gap in technology. These

include lack of interest, teacher discrimination, masculine technology orientation, and lack of

ability (Hoxmeier, Nie & Purvis, 2000). Yet, overall, gender is not shown to statistically

influence attitudes or confidence of general computer use. Gender was statistically significant

only in non-CIS (non computer students) participants (Hoxmeier, Nie & Purvis, 2000). Gender

was a factor for Confidence in use of e-mail (Hoxmeier, Nie & Purvis, 2000), a rather simple

form of technology use via Internet.

    Attitudes are many times, learned in childhood and carried over into adulthood. In a study of

children and use of a specific software program, there were no main effects of gender or

condition. There was a significant difference in the social comparison between girls with high

expectations and girls with low expectations of success, both in number of problems attempted

and in number of problems solved (Joiner, et al., 1998).

    The presence of other students is positive for girls with high expectations of success, but

girls with low expectations of success are at a disadvantage (Joiner, et al., 1998). This agrees

with another study of school age children performing computer tasks revealed that girls used less

time in completing the task, made fewer errors, and required less teacher intervention than boys
                                                       Applying SLT to educational technology 11

(Martin, 1998). The Martin (1998) study also showed that girls collaborated more and for the

“shared events” scored several percentage points higher than the boys.

                                      Conclusion and Changes


    The principal is the direct change agent within the secondary school. If a planned change,

including implementation of technology, is to take place, it will be the direct result of the

principal‟s leadership within the school, in relation to teachers, students, parents and the

community surrounding the school itself.

    It is hoped through this research that another aspect of the principal‟s leadership can be

defined. In short, what style of leadership (Telling, Selling, Participating or Delegating) is most

effective for technology implementation into the school?

    To answer the above question, several factors must be addressed. First, the principal must be

able to measure the maturity level of the faculty (their ability and/or knowledge in the use of

computers and computer applications) and then fit his leadership style toward the one that

rewards and motivates the teachers.

    The literature review leans toward the styles of Selling and Participating as the two leaders

depending upon the maturity of the faculty in use of technology. This statement, concerning

leaders' style and level of maturity, holds true in other occupations as well (Blank, Weitzel &

Green, 1990; Goodson, McGee, & Cashman, 1989; Ireh & Bailey, 1999; Norris & Vecchio,


    Two factors that must be addressed by principals in technology implementation are the age

of the faculty member and the gender of the faculty member. Based upon the research presented,

the age of the user at the training stage creates a unique opportunity. If the faculty member is
                                                        Applying SLT to educational technology 12

younger, (less than or equal to 34) the training can move much quicker and at a more challenging

pace. The older faculty can be trained, but will require more time (to go over problems and

situations) and participation by the administration or trainer.

    No matter what the age of the user, the user‟s perception about the usefulness of the

technology is crucial in their attitude toward the adoption of its use within the workplace (Morris

& Venkatesh, 2000). It will take a different type of strategy to train the older workers to

overcome long held perceptions, but their use of technology can be maximized (Czaja & Sharit,


    In bridging the gap to draw conclusions concerning the gender of the user, one important

finding must be mentioned as it coincides with much of the research concerning gender and

technology use. Czaja & Sharit (1998) report that older women are less receptive to computer

technology than older men. This report does not agree with the other studies in this report.

    Although the literature review reports no statistical evidence for a gender gap in the

implementation of technology, there is still a gender gap present. Whether the gap is real or

perceived is yet to be finally determined. For whatever reason, men are still perceived as more

computer literate and as computer users than women. This myth is still being “taught” within

many schools. If technology is to be implemented into secondary schools, where the faculty is

comprised of a majority of women, the gender gap must be shrunk or demolished altogether.


   In future work, I want to narrow down the research and/or the study to include principals

only (if this is possible). In doing this, it will be necessary to find independent variables that can

be applied directly to principals and their leadership style. The exclusion of teachers from the

study will narrow down the number of independent variables and the number of participants to
                                                      Applying SLT to educational technology 13

survey. It will also allow for a more narrow research question and enable the researcher to

concentrate on one particular area that can be added to the body of knowledge that is already


   This will also enable the researcher to focus in on principals, their leadership styles and move

away from teachers and whether they have an effect on the successful implementation or not.

The research question deals with which leadership style is most successful in implementing

technology into the school. The inclusion of teachers may set forth more nuisance variables and

lead away from the direct research question.

   The most obvious shortcoming for the researcher is the need of experience in working with

research applications such as the LBDQ-XIII. There is need for a pilot study to gain experience

in use of the instruments and a better understanding of the dependent variable of principal

leadership. As part of the pilot study, the researcher will gain experience in deciding which tests

to run to provide the information needed to draw conclusions concerning the leadership styles of

principals in the implementation of technology in the schools.

   For the next research assignment, the above must be acknowledged and discussed to

determine the next step in the process and to finalize the independent variables that must be

identified and studied for the present research questions to be answered.

   Libraries in San Antonio have little resources concerning serious study in the realm of

leadership behavior and leadership studies. The Center for Leadership Studies must work with

the OLLU library to bring in the literature, journals and resources necessary to adequately

research many sub-areas within the realm of leadership.
                                                       Applying SLT to educational technology 14


    Blank, W., Weitzel, J., & Green, S. (1990). A test of the situational leadership theory.

Personnel Psychology, 43. 579-597.

    Blase, J. & Blase, J., (1999). Principals‟ instructional leadership and teacher development:

Teachers‟ perspectives. Educational Administration Quarterly, 35, (3). 349-378.

    Bradley, G., & Russell, G., (1997). Computer experience, school support and computer

anxieties. Educational Psychology, 17, (3). 267-284.

    Czaja, S. & Sharit, J. (1998). Age differences in attitudes toward computers. Journal of

Gerontology, 53B, (5). 329-340.

    Dambrot, F., Watkins-Malek, M., Silling, S., Marshall, R. & Garver, J. (1985). Correlates of

sex differences in attitudes toward and involvement with computers. Journal of Vocational

Behavior, 27. 71-86.

    De Vries, R., Roe, R., & Tailllieu, T., (1998). Need for supervision: Its impact on leadership

effectiveness. The Journal of Applied Behavioral Science, 34, (4). 486-501.

    Goodson, J., McGee, G., & Cashman, J., (1989). Situational leadership theory: A test of

leadership descriptions. Group & Organization Studies, 14, (4). 446-461.

    Hoxmeier, J. Winter, N. & Purvis, G., (2000). The impact of gender and experience on user

in electronic mail. (Industry trend or trend). Journal of End User Computing, 12, (4). 11-23.

    Inman, E. & Mayes, L., (1998). Educational technology: A survey of faculty use and need.

J. Staff, Program, & Organization Development, 16, (1). 15-20.

    Ireh, M. & Bailey, J. (1999). A study of superintendents‟ change leadership styles using the

situational leadership model. American Secondary Education, 27, (4), pp. 22-32.
                                                        Applying SLT to educational technology 15

       Joiner, R., Messer, D., Light, P. & Littleton, K. (1998). The effects of gender, expectations

of success and social comparison on children‟s performance on a computer-based task.

Educational Psychology, 18, (3), 319–326.

       Lin, C. (1998). Exploring personal computer adoption dynamics. Journal of Broadcasting &

Electronic Media, 42, 95-112.

       Martin, S. (1998). Internet use in the classroom: The impact of gender. Social Science

Computer Review, 16 (4), 411-418.

       Morris, M. G. & Venkatesh, V. (2000). Age differences in technology decisions:

Implications for a changing workforce. Personnel Psychology, 53 (2), 375-403.

       Norris, W. R. & Vecchio, R. P., (1992). Situational leadership theory: A replication. Group

& Organization Management, 17 (3), 331-342.

       Rinehart, J. S., Short, P. M., Short, R. J. & Eckley, M. (1998). Teacher empowerment and

principal leadership: Understanding the influence process. Educational Administration Quarterly,

34, 630-644.

       Temple, L. & Lips, H. (1989). Gender differences and similarities in attitudes toward

computers. Computers in Human Behavior, 5. Computers in Human Education, 1989, pp. 215-


       Zorn, T. E., & Leichty, G. B. (1991). Leadership and identity: A reinterpretation of

situational leadership theory. The Southern Communication Journal, 57, 11-24.

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