Research indicates that students perform better academically in schools with higher levels of trust than in schools with lower levels of trust. School leaders are primarily responsible for building cultures of trust but are often at a loss as to how to do so effectively. With the assumption that as perceptions of school leader trustworthiness improve, teachers will be more likely to place their trust in that school leader, this research seeks to clarify how Ugandan headteachers improve teachers' perceptions of headteacher trustworthiness. In particular, we examined how specific types of headteacher visibility related to teachers' perceptions of headteacher relational and competence trustworthiness. This qualitative research used grounded theory methodology to interpret and analyze the interview responses of 28 Ugandan secondary school teachers in eight schools in Mukono District, Uganda. Findings from this research suggest that teachers' perceptions of headteacher relational trustworthiness were strongly related to both the level of risk and formality of headteacher visibility. Additional findings suggest that perceptions of both headteacher relational and competence trustworthiness were influenced by differences in teacher and headteacher personal characteristics. The final finding indicates that certain types of headteacher visibility moderated the influence that teacher characteristics have on perceptions of trustworthiness. These findings can inform school leaders about how to more effectively improve teachers' perceptions of school leader trustworthiness. The grounded theory model presented will provide opportunities for further theory building and testing with respect to the relationship between school leader visibility and teachers' perceptions of school leader trustworthiness.



College and Department

David O. McKay School of Education; Educational Leadership and Foundations



Date Submitted


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Africa, grounded theory, headteacher, leadership, principal, school leadership, teacher, trust, trustworthiness, Uganda, visibility