The Serial, Multiple, Mediating Effects of Principals’ Instructional Leadership on Primary School Students’ Academic Achievement in China

Miss Jiazhe Li, Beijing Normal University
Dr. Philip Wing Keung Chan, Monash  University
Professor Yongmei Hu, Beijing Normal University


This study examined the serial, multiple, mediating effects of principals’ self-evaluated instructional leadership (PIL-P) and teacher-evaluated instructional leadership (PIL-T) on primary school students’ academic achievement (SAA) in China through teachers’ effective professional development (TPD) and teaching strategies (TS).

60,419 students and parents, 2,232 teachers and 506 principals from all the primary schools (231) in the capital city of a central province in China participated in our survey in 2016 and 2017. Value-added Model (VAM) was used to identify the positive predictors of SAA and Structural Equation Model (SEM) was used to examined mediating effects.

The following are positive predictors of SAA. The first set of predictors includes three dimensions of PIL – democratic decision-making, encouraging teaching innovation and supporting teachers’ professional development. Second is effective TPD, through activities such as teacher cooperation and communication (TCC) but not professional guidance, innovation or individual teaching reflection. The third predictor includes three kinds of TS; namely, individualized instruction, participatory instruction and guided inquiry. We also find that TS, rather than effective TPD, can mediate between PIL and SAA. PIL-P, not PIL-T, shows a significant positive effect on SAA, and PIL-T, rather than PIL-P, influences TS through effective TPD and, finally, influences SAA.

The effect of PIL-P and PIL-T on SAA and whether serial, multiple, mediating effects exist between PIL-P or PIL-T and SAA did not present the same conclusion. It was shown that Chinese primary school principals can promote student learning through improving teachers’ TS and encouraging TCC.


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