Academic journal article International Forum of Teaching and Studies

Teachers' Leadership Styles in China's Higher Vocational Colleges

Academic journal article International Forum of Teaching and Studies

Teachers' Leadership Styles in China's Higher Vocational Colleges

Article excerpt

Introduction

Leadership is a process whereby an individual influences a group of individuals to achieve a common goal (Northouse, 2013). Hence the teacher's leadership is the process whereby a teacher influences a group of students to achieve a common goal. It has the following components: first, it's a process; second, it occurs in groups; third, it involves the teacher's influence on students; fourth, its purpose is to complete a task or achieve a goal. Prior to beginning an investigation of teachers' leadership styles in higher vocational colleges it is first necessary to describe the characteristics of students and to consider profiling the teachers' leadership styles.

The students entering higher vocational college are distinctly different from university students, higher vocational college students have their own characteristics. Their scores on the national higher education entrance examination are low. So is their learning ability. But they have high desires for knowledge and creativity. And they have their own opinions on everything and prefer practical knowledge to theoretical knowledge. The students' expectations are high but they don't want to work hard. They are used to the subject-oriented, teacher-centered, information-based and test-driven education. Most of them like being "crammed", and are accustomed to being passive in learning. But since they will be technical workers right after graduation, they need to be active and learn more practical skills while they are at college. Qingsheng Xu summed it up as follows: There are big varieties among students, and their basic knowledge of the subjects is poor; they have many hobbies, but lack of self-control; they are not self-confident and have some psychological problems (Xu, 2011).

Turning attention to the characteristics of vocational college teachers, most of higher vocational college teachers may be classified into two main groups according to their attitude towards the students. Some teachers, especially some young teachers, they lack of care for the students and love for teaching (Su & Wang, 2006).They think since the students are not of a high caliber, there is no need to devote much into the education of them. They don't consider the students situation, they don't care a lot about the student's development. They adopt Drifting Mode (Guo & Zhang, 2000).They teach what they like and what is related to exams in their own way. While some other teachers think they should direct the students and supervise their behavior all the way because the students are not active-learning students. And only by this way the students could make some progress. Teachers in this group usually devote more time and energy into teaching. They adopt Controlling Mode or Super Controlling Mode (Guo & Zhang, 2000).They focus on the students all the time trying to make everything clear to the students and always be there to offer some help. Both of the two kinds of teachers often apply their way of teaching and education from the beginning to the end of the six semesters (three academic years). Besides the two main groups of teachers, there may be some other teachers in China's higher vocational colleges who feel it's not proper to teach in the above two ways and they try to adjust and make some changes but they don't know what to do or how to do it.

Given the variation in teachers' leadership styles to which students with varying characteristics are exposed, it is useful to investigate the efficacy of the styles for groups of students. Blanchard's theory, (1985, 1999) addresses leadership styles that change according to the people and task provides a useful framework for the study. Therefore, when investigating teachers' leadership styles in China's higher vocational colleges, the following research question emerged: Is the development of higher vocational college students is congruent with Blanchard's theory from Dl to D4? If so, how are the phases best divided? …

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