Academic journal article Education

Case Study of Characteristics of Effective Leadership in Graduate Student Collaborative Work

Academic journal article Education

Case Study of Characteristics of Effective Leadership in Graduate Student Collaborative Work

Article excerpt

The purpose of the study was to determine the effective leadership characteristics of graduate students working in a collaborative setting. A secondary goal was be to develop recommendations that will help faculty better utilize group collaboration as a learning experience for graduate students. Data consisted of interviews of graduate students who participated in a collaborative writing exercise. Four themes related to effective group leadership surfaced during the analysis of data: interpersonal skills, group management, time management, and expertise.

Problem and Review of Related Literature

The concept of teamwork is gaining rapid acceptance in numerous organizations and disciplines (Ancona, 1990; Bettenhausen, 1991; Gallucci, 1985). Researchers have concluded that the skills needed to work in a collaborative setting are essential to the development of effective leaders (Glaser, Guilar, & Piland, 1992; Freeman, 1996). The emergence of the teamwork concept has brought a new awareness to research on leadership (Kolb, 1998).

Cragan and Wright (1990) suggest that group settings should be utilized in research situations. Unfortunately, only a limited amount of the literature exists in the area of informal leadership within groups, and there is currently no existing literature on student perspectives as it relates to the collaborative group process. This contribution to the literature will be to examine graduate students working in a collaborative setting was to determine effective qualities of group leaders. A secondary goal will be to develop recommendations that will help faculty better utilize group collaboration as a learning experience for graduate students.

Methods and Data Sources

We utilized a phenomenological approach to better understand the meanings of events and interactions shared by a group (Bogdan & Bilken, 1998; Merriam, 1998). We perceived the collaborative writing exercise as a phenomenon that was shared by group members. The interactions and situations that occurred within the exercise allowed us to better understand how graduate students experience and negotiate collaborative writing.

Although this study uses an instrumental case study method (Stake, 1994), the case itself was of secondary interest (Campbell, 1975). The particular case served to pursue and facilitate our understanding of student collaboration and to reveal what lessons could be learned to inform faculty who utilize student collaborative exercises.

This study originated in the summer of 2001 at a research university in a graduate course about qualitative data analysis. Much of the course centered on a student collaborative writing exercise in which students were required to work in groups to produce an original research manuscript. The class consisted of 17 students who worked in four groups that consisted of four to five students in each group.

The subjects in this study were the 17 students enrolled the course. Of the 17 students, 14 agreed to participate in the study, one declined to participate, and two could not be located after the course ended. Interviews were chosen because they provided a focused method that directed the participants to concentrate on the topic of interest and allowed the researchers to gain insight from the participants' perspectives of the situation (Yin, 1994). The data were analyzed across individual characteristics, utilizing an atomistic approach reflecting the intent to present useful and accurate generalizations rather than articulating a narrative (Husen, 1979; Willis & Jost, 1999). Interviews were analyzed as a whole instead of making comparisons between groups. Such an approach allowed for the discovery and reporting of interactions and meanings on a generalized localized level within the context of the study. Data analysis began with the use of open coding in an issue-related framework (Malinowski, 1984) to identify interactions that pertained to collaborative writing. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.