Chinese Private School Principals Explore Transformational Leadership in Building a Trust-based Learning Community for Student Development and School Effectiveness

Building a trust-based learning culture through transformational leadership is fundamental for school reform and spreads service passion for creating a positive, strong school. Currently, distrust in education has become a central obstacle to school reform. The basic qualitative inquiry was employed to investigate how Chinese private school principals explore their transformational leadership to build a trust-based learning community for school effectiveness and student development. Twelve Chinese principals (N=12) were employed through semi-structural and open-ended interview protocols to participate in this study and collect their experiences, perceptions, and opinions. The interview data were analyzed through descriptive, thematic, and interpretative approaches with the qualitative software NVivo 12 to identify the major themes with categories to respond to how principals use transformational leadership with a trust-based culture for school reform. Findings showed that three major factors cause trust or distrust for school effectiveness and student development. The factors are (1) high credentials, (2) the school’s long historical records, and (3) social service. This study also found the three major strategies for principals to use transformational leadership, including (1) high-performance expectation, (2) instructional support, and (3) helping teachers. Finally, three major strategies for principals to create a trust-based learning culture for school reform are (1) building a shared goal, (2) developing a trust-based culture, and (3) fostering self-dispositioning. Therefore, the future study using descriptive qualitative from principals (N=12), teachers (N=12), students (N=12), and parents (N=12) explore their experiences to increase school reform suggested.

Keywords: Communities of Practice, Principals, Transformational Leadership, 21st Century Skills, Qualitative Research