Course Design: Should We Permit Student Participation?

By Emery, Charles R.; Tian, Robert G. | Academy of Educational Leadership Journal, May 2001 | Go to article overview

Course Design: Should We Permit Student Participation?

Emery, Charles R., Tian, Robert G., Academy of Educational Leadership Journal


Today's managers consider employee participation and empowerment vital to making organizations more competitive in the marketplace. Employee participation is said to lower operating costs, improve productivity, quality, commitment and morale, and reduce turnover (e.g., Kotter & Heskett, 1992; Milliken, 1996; Mumford & Hendricks, 1996; Scotto, 1996). Employee participation/empowerment is the centerpiece of the Total Quality Management movement. It is the heart and soul of the movement to autonomous work teams. Employee participation in the performance appraisal process has produced resounding improvements in morale (Cawley, et al., 1998). Even a number of colleges and universities allow their faculty members to individually weight areas of emphasis (e.g., teaching, research, service) prior to their year-end performance appraisal.

Amazingly, however, this fundamental management principle of the new millennium is not practiced in the classrooms of most business schools. Emery and Emery's (2001) survey of 106 business professors at ten colleges and universities found that only six had experimented with either allowing the students to develop the course syllabus (within accreditation standards) or to determine the weighting of the assessment vehicles (e.g., the students could weighting for the tests between 10-20% each, for the homework 30-40%, for quizzes 10-20%, for presentations 5-15%, for the final exam 15-30%, etc.). Each of these professors chose to implement it as a group rather than as an individual decision-making process. Further, only three of these professors still practice some form of student self-determination in their courses. The three that discontinued the process, cited lack of tangible benefits, lack of student consensus on syllabi or weighting decisions, increased class divisiveness, and lower student satisfaction (as measured by course evaluations). We believe, however, the time has come to increase student participation in determining the weighting of appraisal criterion. Discontinuing efforts in this area, because of failures, is a kin to throwing out the baby with the bath water.

The purpose of this paper is twofold. First, examine the participation literature from the standpoint of both a manager and an employee to determine whether the theories might be generalized to the teacher-student educational environment. Second, determine whether students favor taking on a more active role in weighting course assessments and if so which factors might be related to this desire.


There are two theoretically distinct approaches to examining the appropriateness of employee participation. One evaluates it as a consequence of leadership styles (e.g., job satisfaction, productivity). The other examines it as an outcome of organizational processes/strategies (e.g., participatory decision-making and appraisal design) and individual differences (e.g., self-efficacy, locus of control) on job satisfaction, commitment, productivity, motivation, learning and attitude.


Situational or contingency theories of leadership are considered by many to be the most valid approach to explaining leadership effectiveness. These theories grew out of an attempt to explain the inconsistent findings of trait and behavioral theories. Specifically, These theories propose that the effectiveness of a particular style of leader behavior depends on the situation. As situations change, different styles become appropriate. We will examine three leadership theories that suggest conditions under which a participatory style might be most effective.

Decision Process Theory

Reviewers of empirical leadership research over the last thirty years (e.g., Bass, 1990) suggest that the situational theory of leadership advanced by Vroom and Yetton (1973) and reformulated by Vroom and Jago (1988) is perhaps the most statistically valid model of predicting and prescribing leadership effectiveness. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Cite this article

Cited article

Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25,

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Course Design: Should We Permit Student Participation?


Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25,

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search


    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.