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Can transformational leadership influence

on teachers’ commitment towards

organization, teaching profession, and
students learning? A quantitative analysis

Mohammed Sani Ibrahim, Simin

Ghavifekr, Sii Ling, Saedah Siraj & Mohd
Ibrahim K. Azeez

Asia Pacific Education Review

ISSN 1598-1037

Asia Pacific Educ. Rev.

DOI 10.1007/s12564-013-9308-3

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Author's personal copy
Asia Pacific Educ. Rev.
DOI 10.1007/s12564-013-9308-3

Can transformational leadership influence on teachers’

commitment towards organization, teaching profession,
and students learning? A quantitative analysis
Mohammed Sani Ibrahim • Simin Ghavifekr •
Sii Ling • Saedah Siraj • Mohd Ibrahim K. Azeez

Received: 11 March 2013 / Revised: 13 October 2013 / Accepted: 2 December 2013

Ó Education Research Institute, Seoul National University, Seoul, Korea 2013

Abstract This study investigates the impact of transfor- attitude and improving their commitment towards their
mational leadership as idealized influence, inspirational profession.
motivation, intellectual stimulation, and individualized
consideration on teachers’ commitment towards organiza- Keywords Transformational leadership  Teacher
tion, teaching profession, and students’ learning. A quan- commitment  Teacher profession  Student learning
titative survey method was applied, and four broadly
hypothesized relationships were tested with a sample of
1,014 trained non-graduate and graduate teachers serving Introduction
in twenty-seven secondary schools in Sarawak, Malaysia.
The results indicate a moderate level of teachers’ com- Due to the key role of school leadership in improving
mitment and a low level of transformational leadership school outcomes, it has become a priority in education
qualities among the respondents. This study found that policy agendas internationally. This is because school
inspirational motivation, individualized consideration, and leadership plays a critical role in improving school’s out-
intellectual stimulation were the factors contributing comes by influencing motivations and capacities of teach-
towards teachers’ commitment to teaching profession, and ers, as well as the school’s climate and environment. In
there was no dominant factor influencing commitment to addition, effective school leadership is essential to improve
students’ learning. Moreover, it was discovered that the efficiency and equity of schooling (Education and
inspirational motivation was a factor to teachers’ efficacy Training Policy Division 2008).
and teaching experience. Besides, teachers’ efficacy and Similarly, in Malaysia, school leadership is essential to
teaching experience were predictors to teachers’ commit- energize and bring dynamism to schools’ atmosphere. It is
ment to organization, teaching profession, and students’ the vital role of a school leadership to nurture professional
learning, respectively. These findings revealed that there growth and bring effective leadership to bear in the school.
was a significant relationship between transformational For school leaders, formulating a clear and appropriate
leadership and teachers’ commitment to organization and vision that can invigorate teachers and motivate students is
teaching profession, but not students’ learning. The results a key task to success. Moreover, an effective and dynamic
of this study indicate the necessity for leadership devel- leadership can influence the level of teachers’ commitment
opment of school leaders so that they could systematically towards their organizational performance (Sharifah 2012).
acquire and internalize the effective transformational Previous literatures indicate that leadership and teacher
leadership qualities that are crucial in changing teachers’ commitment are influential factors in school organizational
and school effectiveness (Day 2000; Fullan 2002; Louis
1998). In this regard, school leadership is considered to be
M. S. Ibrahim  S. Ghavifekr (&)  S. Ling  S. Siraj  highly significant in influencing teachers’ levels of com-
M. I. K. Azeez
mitment to and engagement with new initiatives and
Faculty of Education, University of Malaya (UM), 50603 Kuala
Lumpur, Malaysia reforms. Moreover, the role of school leaders is also
e-mail:; influential in establishing and maintaining connections

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M. S. Ibrahim et al.

between the new educational ideas and teachers’ existing of increasing students’ achievement has placed an
passions and ideological framework. This is because school unprecedented level of public scrutiny on the job perfor-
leaders are considered to be the major interpreter in con- mance of principals. The demands relating to the level of
necting teachers to the goals, objectives, and priorities of accountability, social issues, and standardized testing have
the school’s system (Elliott and Crosswell 2001). created pressures that could not have been anticipated a
Despite principals play a vital role in setting the direc- decade ago. To appropriately meet the future challenges of
tion for successful schools, existing knowledge on the best schools, the new approach demands that ‘the principal,
ways to prepare and develop highly qualified candidates is staff, parents, and community work together sharing a
sparse (Davis et al. 2005). Furthermore, as the impact of vision of how to help the students to achieve the educa-
leadership on student achievement became evident, poli- tional goals’ (Lunenburg et al. 2006, p. 5). This suggests
cymakers placed greater pressures on principals. Rewards the need for school reform and processes by which to
and sanctions affecting principals are increasingly com- transform schools into what is considered as ‘effective’
mon. These efforts emphasize on the importance of trans- (Solomon 2007).
formational leadership for school principals (Fullan 1996; School culture can be influenced by the effective prin-
Hord 1992; Leithwood et al. 1996; Wood 1998; Serviov- cipals. The leadership provided by a principal directly
anni 1992; Conley 1997; Reid et al. 1998; Rowold and affects the climate and culture of a school, which conse-
Heinitz 2007; Ngodo 2008). It is significantly important for quently affects students’ achievement (Sergiovanni 2001).
school principals to embrace transformational leadership as Besides, effective principals pay attention to the culture of
it affects not only the level of teacher commitment but also the school and focus on creating a collaborative work
schools’ achievement quality, students’ achievement, and environment (Fullan 1997) and foster shared beliefs and a
teachers’ commitment (Ibrahim 1998). Transformational collegial sense of community within the school that ulti-
leadership would offer the much-needed competitive mately impacts on students’ achievement (Marzano et al.
advantage to the current complex organizational environ- 2005). In order to impact on the school culture, effective
ment. In addition, transformational leadership could pro- principals must be able to envision a successful school, act
duce positive results such as leadership effectiveness, with integrity, and communicate this vision through rela-
development of organizational citizenship behaviour, fol- tionships with the school’s community (McEwan 2003).
lower commitment to the leader and the organization, as Principals, who are effective, work on creating a positive
well as follower satisfaction on the job (Bass and Avolio environment. They believe that it is their responsibility to
1994; Pillai et al. 1999; Dumdum et al. 2002; Gillespie and structure an environment with positive thinking and
Mann 2004; Rowold and Heinitz 2007). actively perform for the purpose of school improvement
Bennis (1984) with highlighting the importance of (Whitaker 2003). They understand that local citizens want
leadership clarifies that ‘leadership requires the possession a school that reflects their values and work to shape a
of transformative power’ (p. 64). With the emergence of positive culture (Sergiovanni 2001).
transformational leadership, a new set of criteria was cre- In brief, an examination of the influence of school
ated for principals to exhibit the effectiveness in line with leaders on the process and outcomes of schooling is
the evolving trends of educational reform (Hallinger and essential to the larger context of educational improvement.
Heck 1996). The challenges of school restructuring can be Therefore, the study of principal leadership can be infor-
considered as the main reason for advocating a move from mative to schools just as the study of leadership in other
instructional leadership to transformational leadership organizations is valuable to understand organizational
(Amoroso 2002; Leithwood 1992). outcomes (Yukl 2010).
Previous studies (Antonakis et al. 2003; Amoroso 2002;
Avolio et al. 2004; Barbuto 2005) on transformational Transformational leadership
practices of school leaders and teachers’ commitment
highlighted the key role of principals in sustaining teachers’ Avolio et al. (2004) defined transformational leadership as
commitment by being attentive to personal and school con- leaders who are able to inspire workers to go above and
text factors. Moreover, the principal’s role is equally critical beyond the performance they thought they could do. Next,
in addressing the system context factors that diminish tea- Bass (1998, p. 21) defined transformational leadership as it
cher commitment (Day et al. 2005). In addition, transfor- ‘occurs when leaders broaden and elevate the interests of
mational leadership role also can be influential to students’ their employees, when they generate awareness an accep-
high levels of academic success (Valentine et al. 2006). tance of the purposes and mission of the group, and when
Today, principals are being evaluated by students’ per- they stir employees to look beyond their own self-interest
formance on standardized achievement tests (Kavanaugh for the good of the group’. Many researchers (Barbuto
2005). Matthews and Crow (2003) noted that the demand 2005; Hall et al. 2002; Judge and Piccolo 2004; Simic

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A quantitative analysis

1998) define transformational leadership as the one who expectations that followers want to meet and also demon-
has qualities which include idealized influence (charismatic strate commitment to goals and the shared vision. A sample
vision and behaviour that inspires others to follow), MLQ item for inspirational motivation is ‘The leaders
inspirational motivation (capacity to motivate others to articulate a compelling vision of the future’. Inspirational
commit to the vision), intellectual stimulation (encouraging motivation leadership and inspirational motivation usually
innovation and creativity), and individualized consider- form a combined single factor of charismatic–inspirational
ation (coaching to the specific needs of followers). leadership. The charismatic–inspirational factor is similar
For this study, transformational leadership refers to a to the behaviours described in charismatic leadership the-
school principal that possesses behaviours such as idealized ory (Bass and Avolio 1993; House 1977).
influence, inspirational motivation, intellectual stimulation,
and individualized consideration that influence or bring Teacher commitment
positive changes essentially to garner teacher commitment
towards organization, teaching profession, and student Commitment has been defined as identification with the
learning under his or her leadership in the schools. It also refers values and goals of the organization, willingness to exert
to the behaviours of a principal that fosters a climate among effort on behalf of the organization, and commitment to
those in the organization to accept group goals and identify the stay in the organization (Givens 2008; Mowday et al.
practices to be used in the achievement of these goals. 1982). Bass (1998) and Yukl (2010) defined commitment
to an internal agreement and enthusiasm when carrying out
Transformational leadership theory a request or a task. Bass, however, referred to loyalty and
attachment to the organization when he discusses com-
Factor analytic studies from Bass (1985) to Howell and mitment. Hoy and Sabo (1998) defined teacher commit-
Avolio (1993), and Bycio et al. (1995) to Avolio et al. ment as teacher behaviour that is directed towards helping
(1997) have identified idealized influence and inspirational students develop both intellectually and socially by work-
motivation as the two main components of transforma- ing extra hard to ensure student success in school. Riehl
tional leadership. and Sipple (1996), and Mowday et al. (1982) defined tea-
Transformational leaders behave in ways that allow cher commitment as commitment to school mission
them to serve as role models for their followers. The (agreement with the goals and values of the organization
leaders are admired, respected, and trusted. Followers and identification with them), commitment to community
identify with the leaders and want to emulate them; leaders partnership (a pattern of reciprocal causation by involving
are endowed by their followers as having extraordinary parents in their children’s education), and willingness to
capabilities, persistence, and determination. Thus, there are exert effort for the organization. Next, Cohen (2007)
two aspects to idealized influence: the leaders’ behaviours defined commitment as the tantamount to tendency towards
and the elements that are attributed to the leader by fol- continuance activity on the basis of a person’s diagnosis
lowers and other associates. These two aspects, measured about costs that are related to organizational abandonment.
by separate sub-factors of the MLQ, represent the inter- This construct seeks to explain consistencies, involving
actional nature of idealized influence—it is both embodied attitudes, beliefs, and behaviour, and involves behavioural
in the leader’s behaviour and in attributions that are made choices and implies a rejection of feasible alternative
concerning the leader by followers. A sample item forms courses of action. Besides, commitment has been classified
the MLQ that represents idealized influenced behaviour is into three discrete components: (1) affective commitment
‘The leader emphasizes the importance of having a col- (based on emotion attachment and arises when individual
lective sense of mission’. A sample item from the idealized strongly identifies with) is involved in and enjoys mem-
influence attributed factor is ‘The leader measures others bership in organization, (2) continuance commitment is
that obstacles will be overcome’. However, leaders who calculative as it perceives that there is a profit to be gained
have a great deal of idealized influence are willing to take from participation and a cost to leaving, and (3) normative
risks and are consistent rather than arbitrary. They can be commitment is obligation-based, and it arises out of an
counted on to do the right thing, demonstrating high employee’s sense of loyalty and sense of duty to the origin
standards of ethical and moral conduct. (Meyer and Allen 1991, 1997; Jaros 1997; Meyer and
Moreover, transformational leaders behave in ways that Smith 2000; Powell and Meyer 2004).
motivate and inspire those around them by providing For this study, teacher commitment refers to the attitude
meaning and challenge to their followers’ work. Team and behaviour, such as commitment towards organization,
spirit is aroused. Enthusiasm and optimism are displayed. commitment towards teaching profession, and commitment
Leaders get followers involved in envisioning attractive towards student learning that a teacher should have in order
future states; they create clearly communicated to improve the school performance in the aspect of

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M. S. Ibrahim et al.

curricular achievement of academic performance. It also is generally the degree to which one has a positive,
refers to the amount of work and time a teacher is willing affective attachment to one’s work (Coladarci 1992; Fire-
to put forth for the sake of student achievement, and the stone and Pennell 1993).
commitment to the school and to the colleagues in an Third, there is teacher commitment to students. Teacher
environment of high purpose. commitment to students can be conceptualized as a com-
mitment to students as unique, whole individuals (Louis
Teacher commitment’s key elements 1998) or as a commitment to student learning (Danetta
2002). Hoy and his colleagues’ conception of teacher
Danetta (2002) points out that regardless of the efforts of commitment consists of the committed behaviours directed
the most capable leaders in a school, accomplishing school towards both the social and intellectual development of
goals depends in large part on a better understanding of the students (Hoy and Sabo 1998; Hoy and Tarter 1997).
sources, nature, and development of a teacher’s commit- Commitment to students as unique, whole individuals is a
ment. An understanding of teachers’ level of commitment form of commitment that may motivate teachers to interact
is important because it reflects their personal interpretation with students on a more sensitive level such as adolescent
of how absorbing and meaningful their work experiences development issues or extracurricular activities (Louis
are. Commitment refers to one’s level of involvement in 1998). Commitment to student learning involves teacher
the organization. Commitment describes an outcome in dedication to help students learn regardless of academic
which one agrees with a decision or request and makes a difficulties or social background (Danetta 2002). In addi-
great effort to carry out that decision or request effectively tion, commitment to student learning focuses on the degree
(Yukl 2010). For a complex, difficult task, commitment is to which teachers are dedicated to student learning
usually the most successful outcome from the perspective regardless of the other issues that may be involved (e.g.
of the agent who makes an influence attempt (Yukl 2010). academic difficulties and social background).
Teacher commitment has been emphasized in three
broad categories: commitment to the organization; com-
mitment to the teaching profession; and commitment to Research objectives
student learning (Danetta 2002). First, organizational
commitment definitions include the belief in and accep- This paper has two main objectives. First, it aims to
tance of organizational goals and values; willingness to investigate the extent of principal’s transformational lead-
exert effort on the organization’s behalf; and a desire to ership practice as well as the extent of teachers’ commit-
remain in the organization (Mowday et al. 1982). Com- ment in secondary school level. Second, it intends to
mitment to the organization creates a sense of community, examine the extents of relationship between transforma-
affiliation, and personal caring among adults within the tional leadership and teachers’ commitment. Therefore,
schools and facilitates integration between personal life teachers’ perception of their principal’s transformational
and work life (Louis 1998). Many factors impact on leadership qualities and the most dominant factor deter-
teachers’ levels of commitment to the organization. Spe- mining teacher commitment has been investigated in this
cifically, previous studies show that teachers’ commitment paper. However, the impact of transformational leadership
to the organization is influenced by (a) beliefs and accep- as idealized influence, inspirational motivation, intellectual
tance of organizational goals (Mowday et al. 1982; Riehl stimulation, and individualized consideration on teachers’
and Sipple 1996), (b) level of involvement in decision- commitment is presented in the following sub-sections.
making (Kushman 1992), (c) orderly climates conducive to
learning (Kushman 1992; Rosenholtz 1985), and (d) stu-
dent achievement (Kushman 1992).
Research questions
Second is the commitment to teaching profession in a
general sense. Firestone and Pennell (1993) described this
Since this study focused on both existing theories and past
dimension as emphasizing fulfilment from exercising craft
literature reviews as well as the exploration of a conceptual
skill. They also suggested that higher levels of commitment
framework, a series of primary research questions that are
are experienced when there is a sense of relevance or
pertinent to the study were developed. Based on the
purpose in one’s work. Teachers with no sense of relevance
objectives of the study, the primary questions formulated
on their teaching are not as committed as others, possibly
are as follows:
due to the frustrations of their work. Not only do teachers
leave the profession because of frustration but also because 1. What is the extent of the principal’s practice of
they become attracted to alternative activities (Fresko et al. transformational leadership in secondary schools in
1997). In addition, commitment to the teaching profession Miri, Sarawak?

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A quantitative analysis

2. What is the extent of teacher commitment in secondary this research was descriptive, and it attempts to accurately
schools in Miri, Sarawak? describe or measure what actually exists in the environ-
3. What are the extents of relationship between transfor- ment with respect to the variables (Borg and Gall 1989).
mational leadership and teacher commitment in sec- The survey questionnaire examined the relationship
ondary schools in Miri, Sarawak? between independent and dependent variables as well as
the moderators. It involved: transformational leadership
(an independent variable) and teacher commitment (a
dependent variables). The general theoretical correlation
Research hypothesis
between these variables and their components is shown in
Figure 1. The variables were categorized into three
There are some hypotheses constructed and examined to
dimensions: transformational leadership (idealized influ-
address the research questions based on the relationship
ence, inspirational motivation, intellectual stimulation and
between independent variable (transformational leadership)
individualized consideration), teacher commitment
and dependent variable (teacher commitment) as shown
(towards organization, towards teaching profession,
towards student learning), and moderators (teacher efficacy
Ho1: there is no significant correlation between trans- and teaching experience).
formational leadership components (idealized influence,
inspirational motivation) and three components of However, the purpose of conducting a survey design
teacher commitment (organization, teaching profession, was to collect data for the variables (Mohd Majid 2005). It
students’ learning) in secondary schools in Miri, involved a collection of data from the samples that repre-
Sarawak? sented the population at a period of time. The survey
design enabled an explanation of attitudes, beliefs, per-
Ho11: there is no significant correlation between
ceptions, behaviours, and the characteristics of the research
idealized influence and teacher commitment towards
population (Cresswell 2012; Wiersma and Jurs 2005). This
is because the survey design was not only able to test the
Ho12: there is no significant correlation between
hypotheses and answer the research questions using the
idealized influence and teacher commitment towards
data collected in a study (Wiersma and Jurs 2005), but also
teaching profession?
gave a firm foundation to compare the statistics on trans-
Ho13: there is no significant correlation between
formational leadership practices as measured by the
idealized influence and teacher commitment towards
teachers’ perceptions (Hailey et al. 2005). Finally, the
student learning?
survey design was suitably employed to explain the extents
Ho14: there is no significant correlation between
of the principal’s transformational leadership practices and
inspirational motivation and teacher commitment
its results, relationship between variables, its influences,
towards organization?
and comparisons.
Ho15: there is no significant correlation between
inspirational motivation and teacher commitment
Model testing
towards teaching profession?
Ho16: there is no significant correlation between
1. The first step was to show that the relation between the
inspirational motivation and teacher commitment
antecedent (transformational leadership: idealized
towards student learning?
influence and inspirational motivation) and the crite-
rion (teacher commitment: commitment towards
organization, commitment towards teaching profes-
Method sion, and commitment towards student learning) was
Theoretical correlation 2. The second step was to show the relations between the
antecedent (transformational leadership: idealized
Data were gathered via survey instruments entitled influence and inspirational motivation) with modera-
‘Transformational Leadership and Teacher Commitment’ tors (teacher efficacy and teaching experience) and the
which has been developed based on conceptual framework criterion (teacher commitment: commitment towards
on transformational leadership (Bass and Rigglo 2006), organization, commitment towards teaching profes-
teacher commitment (Danetta 2002), teacher efficacy sion, and commitment towards student learning).
(Berman et al. 1997; Guskey and Passaro 1994), and 3. The third step was to show the relations between the
teaching experience (Adeyemi 2008). The overall nature of moderators (teacher efficacy and teaching experience)

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M. S. Ibrahim et al.

Fig. 1 Possible relationships

between transformational Teacher
leadership and teacher Efficacy
commitment. Source: Adapted
from Bass and Rigglo 2006;
Danetta 2002
Idealized Commitment to
Influence Organization

Commitment to


Commitment to


with the criterion (teacher commitment: commitment analysis in the study (Cresswell 2012). The samples were
towards organization, commitment towards teaching the principals and teachers from twenty-seven secondary
profession, and commitment towards student learning). schools in Miri in Sarawak.
A stratified random sampling for this study was based on
Conceptually, it consists of independent variable (trans-
the listed government secondary schools in Sarawak as
formational leadership), dependent variable (teacher com-
issued by the Education and Training Policy Devision
mitment), and moderators in this study. Independent
(2008). For the purpose of this study, disproportionate
variables are idealized influence, inspirational motivation,
sampling (Sekaran 2003) was used as it had a sufficient
intellectual stimulation, and individualized consideration.
representation of data which were necessary to examine the
Dependent variable is teacher commitment (commitment
comparison in any hypotheses.
towards organization, commitment towards teaching pro-
fession, and commitment towards student learning). The
moderators are teacher efficacy and have teaching experi- Data collection
ence (Fig. 1).
The instrument used in this study was a survey question-
Participants naire as it permitted the collection of reliable and reason-
ably valid data in a sample and was cheap to administer
A quantitative survey method was applied, and four (Anderson and Arsenault 2002, p. 170). It was motivated to
broadly hypothesized relationships were tested with a collect data from a large number of respondents (Anderson
sample of 1,014 trained non-graduate and graduate teachers and Arsenault 2002; McBurney 2001, p. 239). To meet the
serving in twenty-seven secondary schools in Sarawak, objectives of this study, the questionnaire was self-devel-
Malaysia. The reason to select a large number of samples oped, adapted, and modified (Cresswell 1998; Leedy and
was to ensure the sufficient amount of returned survey Ormrod 2001; Oppenheim 2001) based on the research
questionnaires by the respondents. The sampling design theories.
ensured that certain groups were adequately represented in Next, in developing instrument, the researchers
the study through the assignment of a quota (Sekaran observed the following steps: write different types of
2003). It employed a stratified random sampling method as questions (these included personal, attitudinal, and behav-
it was suitably used to obtain samples from a big and ioural questions, sensitive questions, and closed and open-
scattered population (Babbie 2001; Mertzens 1998; Mohd ended questions); use strategies for good question con-
Majid 2005). Besides, it also ensured an availability of struction (this included using clear language, making sure
special characteristics which were needed to run statistical the answer options did not overlap, and posing questions

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A quantitative analysis

that were applicable to all participants); and perform a pilot To examine the reliability of the instrument, Cronbach’s
test of the questions (this consisted of administering the alpha was calculated to measure the internal consistency
instrument to a small number of individuals and making reliability of transformational leadership and teacher
changes based on their feedback) (Creswell 2008). commitment. The results showed that the internal consis-
In addition, the items were designed based on the tency reliability was above 0.90 for most of the scales in
guidelines for writing effective questions. The steps of the final stage except for the components on ‘commitment
guideline includes the following: make clear items; avoid towards student learning’, ‘teacher efficacy’, and ‘teaching
double-barrelled questions; ensure the complete answers of experience’ which were below 0.75. However, all the
the items by respondents; questions should be relevant; scales had acceptable reliability as many researchers report
short, simple items were best; avoid negative items; a rank- that anything above 0.6 is acceptable.
order assessment with respect to their importance; several Next, to examine its validity, the research instrument
ways to present items and answers to items; and the was analysed using factor analysis. The results of the
importance of general layout and organization of the Kaiser–Meyer–Olkin or KMO values measure of sampling
questionnaires (McMillan and Schumacher 2008). adequacy were well above the acceptable level of 0.6, and
thus, factorability was assumed (Coakes et al. 2006).
The collected data were analysed using SPSS program
Procedure (Statistical Package for Social Sciences) for descriptive and
inferential statistics. Descriptive analysis such as mean
Prior to the actual data collection, a pilot study among a scores and standard deviation was used to examine the
hundred selected trained non-graduate and graduate findings. Inferential statistics such as correlation analysis
teachers has been conducted. This helped to determine that was used to examine the strength and linear relation
the individuals in the sample were capable of completing direction between two variables (Pallant 2007). Moreover,
the survey and that they could understand the questions. In multiple regression analysis was used to test the hypothesis
addition, it ensured the clarity and reliability of the that a significant relationship existed between the inde-
instructions, and the contents of the questionnaire. Ques- pendent variable(s) (transformational leadership) and the
tionnaires were piloted to teachers in another division, dependent variable (teacher commitment), between trans-
Bintulu, in Sarawak based on Tuckman (1999) suggestion formational leadership and moderators, and between
that pilot study would be more essential if it is conducted moderators and teacher commitment.
among the population which would not be taken as the real
samples in the study. To achieve a better response rate, the
feedback from some respondents was identified and recti-
fied. In addition, the respondents were asked to mark any Results
inherent problems on the survey questions. Finally, the
instrument has been revised based on the respondents’ The model (Fig. 1) was specified and tested using Pear-
feedback in pilot study, before sending it out to the actual son’s correlation and multiple linear regression analysis
samples. which was found to fit the data reasonably. The high
The ‘Transformational Leadership and Teacher Com- Cronbach’s alpha values ranging from .723 to .954 except
mitment Questionnaire’ consisted of six sections, including for commitment to student learning which stood .723 for
school profile (Section A, Questions 1–7); princi- this instrument indicated that the items used for measuring
pal’s(Section B (i), Questions 8–17), and teacher’s profile transformational leadership and teacher commitment were
(Section B (ii), Questions 18–29); the practice of trans- reliable. On the other hand, KMO values that ranged from
formational leadership(Section C, Questions 30–61); tea- .617 to .868 except for teaching experience which recorded
cher commitment level (Section D, Questions 62–107); and .617 showed that sampling adequacy were far greater than
moderators (Section E, Questions 108–117) which had a .6 and thus indicating that the instrument was significant
total of 117 items. (Coakes et al. 2006).
The questions on school profile, principals, and tea- The statistical values for skewness and kurtosis were in
cher’s profile were in nominal scale, and the other sections between -1.96 to ?1.96 in this study (Chua 2009). For
were told to the responses on a five-point Likert scale. The skewness, the statistical values range from .036 to .612,
survey items were Likert-type items that contained differ- and for kurtosis, it ranges from .054 to .671. The data
ent values which were explained in its respective sections: were of normal distribution and were suitable for data
1 = Never, 2 = Seldom, 3 = Moderate, 4 = Often and analysis. In the following sub-sections, the findings of this
5 = Always; and 1 = Strongly Disagree, 2 = Disagree, study have been presented based on each research
3 = Moderately Agree, 4 = Agree, 5 = Strongly Agree. questions.

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The extent of the principal’s transformational For the purpose of the research question, teachers were
leadership practice in secondary schools given five response options: strongly disagree, disagree,
moderately agree, agree, and strongly agree. A total of
The results show that teachers perceived an overall low 1,014 teachers responded to this question. Based on the
level of their principals’ transformational leadership qual- results, it was discovered that 58.56 % scored ‘agree’ and
ities as it recorded only 30.09 %. ‘idealized influence’ ‘strongly agree’ for the component of ‘commitment
recorded the highest mean scores (41.88 %), and thus, it towards organization’ in teacher commitment. Teachers
indicated that teachers expressed ‘idealized influence’ as a expressed highly that ‘They believe in and accept organi-
favourable quality practiced by the principals. Next, zational goals; they feel that the school culture influences
‘intellectual stimulation’ recorded the lowest mean scores their commitment to the school; and they share ideas with
(21.83 %), and thus, it indicated that teachers perceived supporting peers in school’ in this study.
intellectual stimulation as a lowly favourable quality Moreover, based on the results of the 1,014 respondents,
practiced by the principals. Besides, ‘Inspirational Moti- it was discovered that 62.36 % scored ‘agree’ and ‘strongly
vation’ recorded 27.77 %, and ‘Individualized Consider- agree’ for the component of ‘commitment towards teaching
ation’ stood 28.86 %. The summary of transformational profession’ in teacher commitment. The teachers expressed
leadership practice in secondary schools in the Sarawak is fairly highly that ‘They enjoy what they are doing as a
shown in Table 1.
Table 2 Teachers commitment level in secondary schools in Miri,
The extent of teacher commitment (towards Sarawak
organization, teaching profession, and student learning) Commitment Commitment Commitment
in secondary schools to organization to teaching to student
profession learning
The overall level of teacher commitment achieved was N
55.84 %. ‘teacher commitment towards organization’ Valid 1,014 1,014 1,014
recorded the highest mean scores (93.96 %), and thus, it Missing 0 0 0
indicates that teachers in secondary schools were willing to Mean 93.96 56.13 17.43
commit themselves towards organization. Moreover,
Median 94.00 57.00 17.00
‘commitment towards teaching profession’ recorded the
Mode 78 60 18
second highest mean scores (56.13 %), and thus, it indi-
Std. deviation 12.225 8.239 4.220
cated that teachers were only moderately committed to
Variance 149.462 67.886 17.807
their teaching profession. However, ‘commitment towards
Range 100 51 22
student learning’ recorded the lowest mean scores
Minimum 30 24 8
(17.43 %), and thus, it indicated that teachers were lowly
Maximum 130 75 30
committed to the student learning in their teaching The
(Average mean 55.84
overview of the teacher commitment level in secondary scores)
schools is shown in Table 2 below.

Table 1 Transformational leadership practice in secondary schools in Miri, Sarawak

Idealized influence Inspirational motivation Intellectual stimulation Individualized consideration

Valid 1,014 1,014 1,014 1,014
Missing 0 0 0 0
Mean 41.88 27.77 21.83 28.86
Median 43.00 28.00 22.00 29.00
Mode 44 35 18 24
Std. Deviation 9.018 5.612 4.777 6.778
Variance 81.317 31.497 22.823 45.947
Range 44 28 24 32
Minimum 11 7 6 8
Maximum 55 35 30 40
(Average mean values) 30.09

Author's personal copy
A quantitative analysis

teacher; they are more committed to their teaching if the relationship between independent variables ‘Transforma-
administrators reduce paperwork and minimize outside tional Leadership’ and the dependent variables ‘Teacher
interruption of their classroom; and they are also dedicated Commitment’. The overall results related to the correlation
to developing quality relationships with other teachers coefficient (Table 5) displayed the Pearson co-relationship
while managing their teaching’; the principal encourages values between the four components of transformational
teachers to be innovative and creative in approaching a leadership and three components of teacher commitment. The
situation in new ways and encourages teachers to try new results displayed that there was a significant correlation
approaches in their work’ in this study. between transformational leadership and teacher commit-
In addition, it was found that 32.28 % scored ‘agree’ ment, r = 0.443.
and ‘strongly agree’ for the component of ‘commitment In addition, Table 5 shows that there were partially
towards student learning’ in teacher commitment. The significant linear correlations between the transformational
teachers expressed that ‘They are committed towards the leadership components and components of teacher com-
intellectual development of the students, and they develop mitment. It was discovered that ‘individualized consider-
fewer plans to improve the academic quality of teaching’ in ation’ had the strongest linear correlation (r = 0.516), and
this study. ‘inspirational motivation’ had the weakest linear correla-
tion (r = 0.463) with ‘commitment towards organization’.
The extents of relationship between transformational Next, ‘inspirational motivation’ had the strongest linear
leadership and teacher commitment in secondary correlation (r = 0.398), and ‘intellectual stimulation’
schools (r = 0.335) had the weakest linear correlation with ‘com-
mitment towards teaching profession’. Besides, ‘intellec-
The purpose of research question 3 was to identify the tual stimulation’ had the lowest correlation (r = -0.18)
extent of relationship between transformational leadership with ‘commitment towards student learning’, and it was not
and teacher commitment towards organization, teaching significant at the 0.05 level (2-tailed).
profession, and student learning. Table 3 shows the All the four independent variables namely ‘idealized
strength of the relationship between the variables which influence’, ‘inspirational motivation’, ‘intellectual stimu-
were used as guides in determining relationship between lation’, and ‘individualized consideration’ failed to meet
variables. the selection criteria, and thus, there was no output when
Early analysis used matrices scatter plot to ensure that the data were entered for regression analysis. It indicated
normality, linearity, and homoscedasticity were observed. that all the four independent variables were not predictors
Moreover, matrices scatter plot that were almost similar to of teacher ‘commitment towards student learning’. Thus,
cigar showed possible homoscedasticity was observed there was no regression coefficient to ‘teacher commitment
(Pallant 2007). Besides, close examination on the histo- towards student learning’ in this study.
gram showed that the variables examined followed the
possible normality data. Table 4 shows that skewness value
ranged from 0.076 to 0.612 (-1 \ skewness value \ 1)
and kurtosis values ranged from 0.025 to 0.86 Table 4 Skewness and Kurtosis values of the variables
(-1 \ kurtosis value \ 1). It showed that the data were
Construct N Skewness value Kurtosis value
normal (Hair et al. 2006). (standard error of (standard error of
Moreover, Pearson’s correlation statistics and multiple skewness = 0.077) kurtosis = 0.153)
linear regression analysis were employed to determine the
Idealized influence 1,014 -0.517 -0.90
Inspirational 1,014 -0.612 0.86
Table 3 Strength of correlation coefficient values
Intellectual 1,014 -0.299 -0.74
Size of the correlation Strength of the stimulation
coefficient correlation
Individualized 1,014 -0.374 -0.54
0.91–1.00 Or -0.91 to -1.00 Very strong consideration
0.71–0.90 Or -0.71 to -0.90 Strong Commitment to 1,014 0.076 0.671
0.51–0.70 Or -0.51 to -0.70 Moderately strong
Commitment to 1,014 -0.123 0.025
0.31–0.50 Or -0.31 to -0.50 Weak teaching
0.01–0.30 Or -0.01 to -0.30 Very weak profession
0.00 No correlation Commitment to 1,014 0.549 0.452
student learning
Source: Chua (2009, p. 29)

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M. S. Ibrahim et al.

Table 5 Correlation coefficient values between transformational leadership and teacher commitment
Idealized influence Inspirational motivation Intellectual stimulation Individualized consideration

Commitment to organization .478** .463** .468** .516**

Commitment to teaching profession .395** .398** .335** .396**
Commitment to student learning -.032 -.059 -.018 -.022
Correlation is significant at the 0.05 level (2-tailed). All results are significant except for teacher commitment towards student learning

Discussion and conclusion heightened capacity and commitment are held to lend to
additional effort and greater productivity (Barbuto 2005;
School leadership is a priority in educational policy agen- Leithwood and Jantzi 2000; Spreitzer et al. 2005). How-
das for its vital role in school improvement. The findings of ever, the principals practiced a low level of transforma-
this study show supporting evidence for the notion that tional leadership as perceived by the trained non-graduate
transformational leadership behaviours are strongly corre- and graduate teachers in secondary schools.
lated with employees’ sense of commitment (Day 2000; Moreover, results of this study on teacher commitment
Fullan 2002; Louis 1998). As presented in this paper, show that ‘commitment towards organization’ recorded the
teacher commitment has been linked with commitment highest mean values, and ‘commitment towards student
towards organization, teaching profession, and student learning’ stood the lowest mean values. This finding sup-
learning; hence, it is logical to assume that the practice of ports the previous research which had shown that teachers
transformational leadership behaviours by school leaders in Malaysia had low-to-moderate levels of professionali-
enhances teachers’ commitment in the secondary schools. zation, and the study also reported that teachers only had
In addition, from this study, it can be concluded that moderate levels of affective, continuance, and normative
transformational leadership qualities are an important commitment (Fauziah et al. 2008). Based on the previous
dimension of the social context in improving the level of research, the importance of teacher commitment was
teacher commitment in schools. highlighted as teacher commitment is the most important
The nature of ‘Transformational Leadership and Tea- factor influencing school performance (Graham 1996).
cher Commitment’ instrument was originally developed Teacher commitment is a critical factor influencing
according to the previous literatures (Bass and Avolio teaching and learning and has been examined from various
1993; Avolio et al. 1997; Bass and Rigglo 2006) that have theoretical perspectives (Reyes 1990; Rosenholtz 1985). It
identified the components of transformational leadership contributes to teachers’ work performance, absenteeism,
as idealized influence, inspirational motivation, intellec- burnout, and turnover, as well as having an important
tual stimulation, and individualized stimulation. Next, influence on students’ achievement in, and attitudes
teacher commitment was grounded on Danetta (2002), towards school (Firestone 1996; Graham 1996; Louis 1998;
which had been emphasized in three broad categories: Tsui and Cheng 1999). Besides, research on teacher com-
commitment towards organization, commitment towards mitment indicates that teacher with high levels of com-
teaching profession, and commitment towards student mitment who work harder demonstrates stronger affiliation
learning. to their schools and more desire to accomplish the goals of
Overall findings of this study on transformational lead- teaching than teachers with low levels of commitment.
ership revealed that the principals practiced a low level of Most importantly, students of highly committed teachers
transformational leadership qualities in secondary schools are more likely to obtain good grades in examinations
in Miri, Sarawak. Moreover, the finding of this study did (Graham 1996).
not support the previous finding which highlighted the In addition, findings of this study regarding relationship
dynamism of transformational leadership that could bring between transformational leadership with teacher com-
changes to the level of teacher commitment. In reality, it mitment were partially supporting with the previous
was justified that transformational leadership fosters research. Previous research had shown that transforma-
capacity development and brings higher levels of personal tional leadership had a significant positive effect on orga-
commitment among ‘followers’ to organizational objec- nizational commitment (Geijsel et al. 2003; Koh et al.
tives. According to Bass (1998, p. 21), transformational 1995). Higher levels of organizational commitment are
leadership occurs when leaders broaden and elevate the reported among employees when leaders are perceived as
interests of their employees, when they generate awareness being more transformational. In addition, transformational
an acceptance of the purposes and mission of the group, leadership behaviours were also found to have significant
and when they stir employees to look beyond their own impact on teacher commitment and teacher job satisfaction
self-interest for the good of the group. Together, (Amoroso 2002). Leithwood et al. (2004) also reported that

Author's personal copy
A quantitative analysis

transformational leadership had significant direct and teaching profession, and commitment towards student
indirect effects on teachers’ commitment to change. Earlier learning) in this study.
research studies demonstrated that one key determinant of Since no study has been conducted examining the
commitment is leadership (Mowday et al. 1982). Trans- relationship between transformational leadership and
formational leadership engenders their followers’ com- teachers, commitment exclusively among the trained non-
mitment to the organization (Barbuto 2005), the graduate and graduate teachers in the selected state of
organizational goals and values (Bass 1998), and team Sarawak, this study can be considered as an exploratory
commitment (Arnold et al. 2001). research that can improve the school academic perfor-
Besides, extensive research is available which indicate mance in the region. Results of this study offer insights into
that transformational leadership is positively associated how leadership practices affect teachers’ commitment and
with organizational commitment in a variety of organiza- sense of teacher commitment and also indicate the neces-
tional settings and cultures (Bono and Judge 2004; Dum- sity for leadership development of school leaders so that
dum et al. 2002; Koh et al. 1995; Walumbwa and Lawler they could systematically acquire and internalize the
2003). Previous research has found that transformational effective transformational leadership qualities that are
leadership has a large impact on organizational commit- crucial in changing teachers’ attitude and improving their
ment (Dee et al. 2004; Koh et al. 1995; Nguni et al. 2006). commitment towards the profession.
As found in this study, transformational leaders are
necessary in all organizations. The primary goal of trans-
formational leaders is to change the current structure of the Limitation of study
organization and inspire organizational employees to
believe in a new vision that has new opportunities (Tucker The size of Sarawak state and its accessibility rate limit this
and Russell 2004) for the individual and the organization as study to the secondary schools in Miri division only. The
a whole. Besides, Leithwood and Jantzi (2000); Leithwood state consists of ten divisions and twenty-one districts. On
et al. (1999); and Sillins (1994) point out that transfor- top of that, it has 177 secondary schools: 161 national
mational leadership contributes to a range of organizational secondary schools; seven technical secondary schools;
outcomes, including motivation, commitment, and capacity eight religious secondary schools; and one art secondary
of teachers to develop new approaches to education. school. Furthermore, there are 5,232 male and 8,377
However, leaders who communicate with high expecta- female teachers serving in the secondary schools in
tions to followers are able to inspire through motivation to Sarawak.
become committed to and a part of the shared vision in the Another limitation is the difficulty in gauging the per-
organization. ceptions of the secondary school teachers that do respond
In brief, the findings of this study were partially as they could possibly have different interpretations of the
matching with the previous research which had shown term teacher commitment as well as their principals’
supporting evidence for the positive effects of transfor- transformational leadership qualities. Besides, this study is
mational leadership behaviours on commitment (Amoroso also limited in the use of only one dependent variable,
2002). In his study, Amoroso found that principals’ teacher commitment. There are a number of variables
behaviours of actively leading staff, supporting staff, and within the range of school organizational climate that are
challenging staff were significantly correlated with com- impacted by a principal’s specific behaviours such as tea-
mitment. As was evidenced in the Nguni et al. (2006) cher innovativeness and teacher professional development
study, the construct of challenging the staff that falls within and teacher job satisfaction. Next, the moderators explored
the dimension of intellectual stimulation and setting high are limited to teacher efficacy, identification with school,
performance expectations yielded the strongest correlation reflective dialogue, job satisfaction, and teaching experi-
between commitment and extra effort. Besides, the practice ence. However, this particular study only explores the
of transformational leadership behaviours by school leaders relationship between transformational leadership, teacher
would enhance the organizational commitment of special commitment, and moderators.
education teachers (Horn-Turpin 2009). Moreover, teacher In addition, the population is limited to trained non-
commitment was more significantly affected by the lead- graduate and graduate teachers and principals who hold a
ership, behaviours of vision building, and intellectual valid teaching certificate (either Diploma in Teaching or
stimulation. To sum up, there were partial significant cor- Bachelor in Education) in Miri, Sarawak. Apart from that,
relations between transformational leadership (idealized the findings of this study are limited to the validity and
influence, inspirational motivation, intellectual stimulation, reliability of the instruments used. It is also limited to the
and individualized stimulation) and teacher commitment accuracy of the participants who completed the
(commitment towards organization, commitment towards instruments.

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M. S. Ibrahim et al.

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