Understanding the role of principal in managing school discipline: A case study

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Education (M. Ed.)


Institute for Educational Development, Karachi


A principal, being the academic and administrative head of a school, performs multiple roles in leading the school. This study made an attempt to understand the role of principal in managing school discipline in the context of a higher secondary school in Karachi, Pakistan. The purpose of the study was to develop an in-depth understanding about the school principal's approaches towards managing the frequently occurring disciplinary problems in the school. Within the qualitative research paradigm, the case study method was employed to explore the phenomenon. The study was spread over a four-month duration, out of which, six weeks were allocated for the fieldwork. Open-ended interviews, observations, and document analysis were used as data generation methods for the study. Collection and analysis of the data took place simultaneously, and as a result of the process, the study led to certain findings. It was revealed that the principals' understanding of discipline was influenced by his educational beliefs, experience, and socio-cultural orientation of the school. Perceptions of the principal emphasized on the ethical dimension of students' upbringing. In addition, the managerial perspective of dealing with school discipline was more in practice than the educative aspect of it. Frequently occurring disciplinary problems were more or less similar to that of other higher secondary schools in this part of the world. These include: truancy, violation of dress and appearance codes, tardiness, inattention in the class, noise making, bullying, fights among the students, use/ misuse of mobile phones in the school premises, and graffiti etched on furniture. Strategies which were adopted by the principal for maintaining students' discipline were a combination of both, corrective and preventive in nature. However, under the influence of the managerial view of school discipline, corrective strategies for discipline maintenance were seen more prominent, as compared to preventive ones. Discipline management through rules and regulations emerged as a major strategy, supplemented by the use of moral diplomacy' as a contextually effective guiding principle adopted by the principal and teachers for managing discipline. Furthermore, efforts are underway to evolve a collaborative system for discipline management, whereby all the stakeholders would be involved in the process. Moreover, there is a shared belief in use of role modeling by the principal and teachers as a strategy. However, the gap was observed in the walk' and talk' of the school leader.

This document is available in the relevant AKU library