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Principals of schools of nursing are confronted with situations that involve a lot of communication.The aim of the study therefore was to assess the administrative communication skills of principals of schools of nursing in the South East Zone of Nigeria. Five research questions and 10 null hypotheses guided the study. A descriptive survey was adopted for the study and the 16 principals and 166 regular teachers in the 16 Schools of Nursing in the zone were used for the study, hence, no sampling. The instrument for data collection was questionnaire. The instrument was validated and found reliable following the reliability test using Pearson Product Moment Correlation Coefficient. The reliability co-efficient on the principals questionnaire recorded 0.82 showing high internal consistency and that of the teachers recorded 0.94. The instrument was administered to the respondents directly. The data generated from the research questions were analysed using mean, while the null hypotheses were tested using t-test. Major findings include: the rating of the respondents indicated that the principals apply listening communication skills to high extent, except for item five which they apply to very high extent; the respondents believed that the principals apply non-verbal communication skills to high extent; they also indicated that the principals apply oral communication skills to high extent; the respondents accepted that the principals apply written communication skills to high extent; and, equally indicated that the principals apply feedback communication skills to high extent. The principals and teachers did not differ significantly in their assessment of the principals’ application of the listening and non-verbal communication skills while they differed significantly in their application of oral, written and feedback communication skills. There is significant difference in the extent prnicipals in small and large schools apply listening, non-verbal and written communication skills. Based on these findings and implications of the study, recommendations and areas for further studies were highlighted in this study.
Background of the Study
Principals of schools of nursing are confronted with situations that involve a lot of communication. How effective they become depends largely on their ability to apply the appropriate communication skills in their daily interaction with people. Coordinating the efforts of people towards the achievement of objectives and goals in any establishment has administrative communication skills as its main trust. Without communication there will be no good organization. According to Adewale (2001), organization requires understanding if it should achieve its goal. The office of the principal as the nerve centre of the establishment deals with communication extensively. The aim of communication is much more than the mere transmission of ideas, it must result in the transmission of meaning that leads to action/s. Communication is a complex process as it involves all the senses, experiences, emotions and intelligence of people ( Beniger & Gusek, 1995). In fact, it is the totality of all the things that one person does to create understanding in the mind of another person.
The primary aim in school administration is the improvement of teaching and learning process. Therefore, all the activities and efforts of the school must be tailored towards employing adequate communication techniques. In order that the school administrator achieves this, he or she must inevitably interact with various groups and individuals within the school, community and with people outside the school utilizing desired communication competence and skills. It is likely that the rampant cases of unrest recorded in many schools of nursing in the South East Zone may be blamed on the principals who may not have addressed adequately, the various cases ranging from increased pressure for candidates seeking for admission, to failure of Nursing and Midwifery Council of Nigeria (N&MCN) to index all students presented to them. According to Obi (2003), the principals must communicate effectively with their subbordinates and students as well as the School Board ,and the appropriate State and National Agencies. Chinweuba (2004) also asserts that the school administrator must work with the Parents Teachers Association (P.T.A) and the Alumni so as to make remarkable impact in the running of the school. The administrator’s programmes and policies are often influenced by these people or
group with whom he/she is in constant interaction with just as his/her administrative decisions affect them.They therefore need to be carried along.
For effective administration of establishments, communication is central and a sine qua non. Hence, in the absence of effective application of organisational communication, a vagary of individualistic and personal goals may most likely mar the organisational objectives. This will inevitably result to stagnation of activities of the teaching-learning process and reduced school tone with resultant poor academic performance of both the students and the school. Some schools in the South East zone have been sanctioned by placing embago on their students intake because they failed to communicate effectively the accreditation requriements to their respective propriators and concerned bodies.
Moris (1984) sees the principal as one occupying a very important position in the school and who most of the time, has his/her mind brimming over with ideas, questions, solutions, directives and plans. For the principal to be able to communicate these ideas, directives and solutions, she/he must be familiar with the basic communication skills so as to interact meaningfuly with every body. Strother (1983) and Walker (1990) maintain that communication skills of principals have been well documented as key to their success as administrators.
It is disheartening that some principals lack the most essential skills that would make them effective communicators. Such principals in the South East zone , hardly pay attention when someone is speaking and are often impatient with people that have difficulty expressing themselves. Hence, this category of principals draw conclusion before thier interactant/s could land.This attitude is simply unacceptable and is detastable to many people. The principals need to be aware of how they are perceived by others. It is very necessary that the principals become aware of their verbal and non-verbal communication and realize that their approach towards communication should be situational holding others in contemplation each time.
Adequate application of communication skills are imperative for decision-making. The administrator that worth his salt should be able to define problems, generate and evaluate alternative courses of action, implement decisions, control and evaluate results formatively and summatively using the right communication skills. The principal is the Chief Executive of the nursing school and according to Ezeocha (1990) the principal is defined as the man in the middle because she/he has to interact with all and sundry on a daily basis-the staff, students, parents, benefactors, community and the state, national and
international officers of the system in question. The principal also interacts with public and private organizations as well as law enforcement agencies. In all these interactions, the principal has to establish rapport with all to promote conducive atmospher necessary for effective communication.
The principal is expected to maintain a school climate conducive to students’ achievement and learning, school growth, in addition to overseeing the enforcement of school rules and regulations, as well as the meting out of disciplinary measures when indicated (Ukeje, Nwagbara & Okorie,1992). Ani (1999) maintains that students these days demand more careful handling while Akubue (1997) aptly remarks that a good administrator should be able to communicate with the students in any of their swinging moods. Each of the situations, he argues, will necessitate the use of effective communication skills like selection of adequate verbal or documented responses that can help defuse a tense interaction or situation. The tone of voice set in each communication situation goes a long way to establish the feeling for the entire institution and its environment (Kelley, 1980). Some principals do not seem to realize that a frustrated teacher who is having difficulty controlling his/her class will need a
different approach from an irate parent who storms the office demanding an explanation why his/her son/daughter has been suspended or expelled.
The principal should always bear in mind that the school is part and parcel of the community where it is located and so should endeavour to engender an amicable rapport between the school and the community. The ugly incidence that took place in one of the schools in Imo state betrays the principal’s poor rapport with the locality. Communication with the Board of Governors, Academic Advisory Board, P.T.A., Alumni and community leaders should be open and cordial if an administrator wishes to make a significant impact in the school as a whole. The activities of the indigens of one of the schools in Anambra state during the accreditation exercise by N&MCN is rather commendable. The community came to the assistance of the school because they are often carried along in most of the happenings of the school.
Therefore, the principal’s manner of transmitting information is of paramount importance. It matters a lot not only what a principal says but how he/she says it (Akubue, 1997). In the school, information transmission has been hampered by prejudice and bias emanating from the manner of transmission. If a school administrator fails to control his/her emotions, language becomes a
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