Assessing and strengthening instructional leadership among primary school principals in Vietnam

Hảo Thi Nguyễn, Philip Hallinger, Chia Wen Chen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to add to an emerging literature on educational leadership and management in Vietnam by addressing several goals. First, the study sought to translate, adapt, and validate an existing measurement instrument, the Principal Instructional Management Rating Scale (PIMRS) Teacher Form, for use in Vietnam. Next, it aimed to describe patterns of instructional leadership evidenced among a sample of urban and rural primary school principals. Then, the researchers examined if these patterns of principal instructional leadership could be linked to one or more “antecedent variables”: school size, school location (urban/rural), principal’s gender and prior teaching experience. Finally, the paper sought insights from principals and teachers on how instructional leadership could be strengthened in the Vietnamese education context. Design/methodology/approach: Both quantitative survey and qualitative methods were used in this study. The sample consisted of 569 teachers and 117 principals working in 117 primary schools located in Ho Chi Minh province of Vietnam. Data collection employed a translated and adapted Vietnamese language form of the PIMRS Teacher Form. An open-ended question posed to both teachers and principals was included in the survey instrument to gather recommendations for strengthening instructional leadership in Vietnam. The research used Rasch analysis, Cronbach’s test of internal consistency, confirmatory factor analysis, t-tests, and analysis of variance in data analysis. Findings: The research achieved a preliminary validation of a Vietnamese language Teacher Form of the PIMRS. The analysis of PIMRS data gathered from teachers found that the primary school principals were perceived to be exercising instructional leadership at a surprisingly high level. Consistent with international research findings, selected evidence indicated stronger instructional leadership from the female principals, though the pattern was not strong. None of the other antecedents evidenced a significant relationship with patterns of principal instructional leadership. A number of overlapping recommendations were made by teachers and principals for strengthening instructional leadership in Vietnam. Research limitations/implications: Although a Teacher Form of the PIMRS Vietnam was successfully validated, follow-up studies should be conducted with both the Teacher Form and Principal Form of this instrument. More broadly, the high scores on the PIMRS accorded to the principals in this study were deemed “surprising” in light of the lack of prior policy focus and training on this role of the principal in Vietnam. Thus, the authors recommend that this research be extended to a larger cross-level study of schools from different parts of Vietnam in order to provide additional confirmation of these preliminary findings. Practical implications: Feedback from principals and teachers indicated a need for system leaders to articulate instructional leadership more explicitly as part of the principal’s role set in Vietnam. Only then will it become part of the formal expectations that shape principals’ practice and the preparation and professional development programs in which they participate. The principals also suggested that instructional leadership could be strengthened by enabling model principals to share instructional leadership practices with colleagues. Finally, teachers and principals highlighted the need to broaden, legitimate, and strengthen sources of instructional leadership within the school beyond the principal. These suggestions are not only consistent with policy actions taken in other societies, but are also grounded in the context of education in Vietnam. Originality/value: The first internationally published study of educational leadership and management in Vietnam only appeared in 2012. In the succeeding years, several qualitative studies have emerged describing principal leadership practices in a handful of schools. The current study represents the first published quantitative study of school leadership from Vietnam. Although the results are preliminary in nature, the study provides both baseline data on principal instructional leadership and a validated instrument that can be used in future research.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)396-415
Number of pages20
JournalInternational Journal of Educational Management
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2018


  • Antecedents
  • Instructional leadership
  • Leadership
  • Vietnam

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management


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