Undergraduate education students' leadership understandings
Propp, Alan James
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The purpose of this study was to explore and represent students’ leadership understandings that emerged from discussions of their past and current leadership experiences in everyday life, their school experiences, and their college level contexts.In this study I used a multiple method (QUAL + QUAL) research design and the data were analyzed within principles of grounded theory drawn from Strauss and Corbin’s (1998) grounded theory approach. Individual and focus group interviews were the main data collection methods used in this study: individual interviews with fifteen undergraduate education students and six focus group sessions (held in succession) generated the data. As the leadership understandings held by the students unfolded, four broad themes became prominent. The first theme, the ubiquity of relationships, emerged from the students’ discussions of collaboration, context, power, and vision. Highlighted in these conversations was their perspective that, with respect to leadership, relationships are everything. The second theme included the students’ understanding that self-esteem and self-actualization were important aspects of effective and energizing leadership. Third, and perhaps more informative, was the manner in which the students articulated their leadership understandings. One of the biggest findings to come out of the study was the students’ tendency to speak in dualities in order to process, conceptualize, and articulate their leadership understandings. Additionally, the students’ sensemaking reflected the important role language and framing played in articulating their leadership understandings. Their perspective that small things (positive and negative) had momentum and led to ramifications emerged as the fourth broad theme. In my quest to understand this phenomenon, I developed the concept of leadership throw as the metaphor that conveyed the students’ understanding of small things having big ramifications. Implications for theory, research, and policy arose from the students’ beliefs that leadership was collaborative, interactive, and featured the harnessing of individuals’ skills for the betterment of communities. In view of what was learned about the students’ use of language, framing, and leadership throw, their leadership synthesis has implications for an enhanced pre-service teacher preparation program suggesting greater congruence with the lived realities of K-12 schools.In conclusion, it became apparent that the students’ leadership understandings were part content, part process, and part articulation. Remarkably, I came into this research looking for the students’ denotative leadership understandings and came away from the study with a clearer understanding of language and framing, leadership throw, and the implications of these concepts powerful argument this makes for nurturing student voice and the capability for expression and framing at all levels of leadership, organizational life, and community relations.
DegreeDoctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
CommitteeShields, Carolyn; Ralph, Edwin; Noonan, Warren; Noonan, Brian; Carr-Stewart, Sheila
language and framing