Exploring Leadership Teaching Methods

By Doo, Min Young | Academic Exchange Quarterly, Fall 2005 | Go to article overview

Exploring Leadership Teaching Methods


Doo, Min Young, Academic Exchange Quarterly


Abstract

This article discusses effective instructional methods for teaching leadership in the classroom. The effective pedagogical approaches for teaching leadership discussed in this article include social learning theory, collaborative learning, and reflective learning. Also, specific instructional methods aligned with the three pedagogical approaches are explored. They are biography critiques, leader analysis activities, group presentations, case studies, writing autobiography and the leadership development plans.

Introduction

There is no doubt that leadership is essential for everyone. This importance is reflected by the numerous leadership text books and autobiographies describing leadership that are released everyday. In addition, many universities and programs offer leadership courses to students. For example, according to Florida State University's quality enhancement plan (2004), there are 175 leadership courses offered to undergraduate and graduate students across the colleges at Florida State University alone. Although almost all the colleges provide leadership courses to students, the Human Sciences and Education programs appear to offer more than other programs (Florida State University, 2004). Despite the high demand for leadership courses, leadership is not an easy subject to teach to instructors in classrooms. Leadership is a broad concept with no clear consensus on its definition (Hughes, Ginnett, and Curphy, 2002). In addition, most leadership classes may suffer from the constraints of time and setting; a typical 3 credit residential class meets in a classroom for 3 hours per week for 16 weeks. Given that leadership development is an on-going process embedded in one's daily life, teaching leadership in class within a limited timeframe is challenging to instructors.

A classroom as a learning environment has a limitation to provide ongoing hands-on leadership experiences (Marquardt, 1999). However, the cognitive approach, such as lectures and group discussions, appears to be more effective for teaching multiple students leadership in a classroom because of its efficient, standardized and structured format (Lord & Emrich, 2001; Reigeluth, 1999). The purpose of this paper is to discuss effective pedagogical approaches for teaching leadership in the classroom and to suggest practical instructional methods to instructors. The instructional approaches discussed in this paper include social cognitive theory, collaborative learning, and reflective learning. Instructional methods aligned with the three approaches, which can be utilized in the classroom, include biography critiques, leader analysis activities, group presentations, case studies, writing autobiography and the leadership development plans.

Social Learning Theory

Social learning theory can easily be applied to teaching leadership because one's leadership is recognized through observing his/her behaviors and their consequences. According to Bandura's social learning theory (1977), people can learn from observing others without trials and errors. Bandura (1977) explains the three major components that enable learning to occur. They are vicarious learning, an individual's ability to utilize symbols (verbal and imaginal), and an individual's self-regulatory capability (p.12-13). Vicarious learning, also referred to as observational learning, indicates that people can learn by observing others' behaviors without direct experience. Bandura's explanation implies that people have the cognitive ability to predict or generalize the results of certain behaviors after they observe others' behaviors and their consequences. Therefore, a set of observed behaviors and subsequent results are expected to play the role of references for the individual's actions in the future. However, if an individual has to store information as he or she receives it into short-term memory and then retrieve it from long-term memory, information processing is extremely slow and flawed. …

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