Four Instructional Methods That Cultivate Leadership

By Barnes, Teresa A. | Techniques, April 2017 | Go to article overview

Four Instructional Methods That Cultivate Leadership


Barnes, Teresa A., Techniques


A person who is able to influence others to achieve established goals by their values, example set or reflection epitomizes the essential characteristics of a leader (Edge Business Management Consulting, 2016). In order for leaders to make an impact, they must possess a positive attitude and effective communication skills, be inspirational and decisive, foster teamwork, take risks, solve problems and effectively manage time, among other things. These attributes allow people to be successful in both their professional and private lives, and they promote successful outcomes in the workplace and are therefore coveted by employers.

According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers' Job Outlook 2016 (2015), employers are seeking leaders who can work as part of a team and communicate effectively. This echoes the Perkins Collaborative Resource Network's Employability Skills Framework (n.d.) which highlights employers' desired qualities in their employees: "the ability to collaborate as a member of a team or work independently, communicate effectively, maintain a positive attitude and contribute to the overarching goals of the workplace." Having these skills enables prospective employees to be successful in their job search and on the job.

According to Dugan and Komives (2007, p. 8), "The education and development of students as leaders has long served as a central purpose for institutions of higher education" (as cited in Astin & Astin, 2000, and Zimmerman-Oster and Burkhardt, 1999). Research has revealed a strong connection between student involvement in leadership during their college years and future success. Traditionally, college students have been encouraged to develop those leadership skills by participating in on-campus organizations and student government. These conventional methods are effective, but benefit only a select group of students; yet today's challenging workforce expects every potential employee to be exposed to leadership. According to Job Outlook 2016, more than 80 percent of employers say they look for evidence of leadership skills on the candidate's resume.

It is imperative for career and technical education (CTE) instructors to use research-based best practices to cultivate leadership in their students. These methods should be embedded in classroom practice to help students realize the connection between education and employment (Perkins Collaborative Resource Network, n.d.).

There are four proven instructional techniques that meet this standard: cooperative learning, service learning, problem-based learning (PBL) and student-based oral presentations.

Cooperative Learning

Cooperative learning is an effective educational approach to learning and teaching in which small groups, comprised of learners with varying levels of ability, work together to complete a task, create a product and solve a problem (TeacherVision, 2016). This teaching tool is inexpensive, practically free. It allows the teacher to become a facilitator and the students to become accountable for their learning. This small-group instructional method develops communication, problem-solving, active-listening, risk-taking, and time-management skills. There are a variety of cooperative learning activities. Here are some typical strategies that can be used with any program.

With the Jigsaw strategy, the teacher identifies an article pertaining to the field of study, and gives each student a copy of the article. Students are then placed in a group of three to five people. The teacher divides the article into parts--as many parts as there are members of the group. The students from each group with the same assigned section will get into a focus group to discuss their part. Students will prepare a summary chart or graphic to organize information discussed. After the like groups have conversed about their section for a set period of time, they will go back to their original group to report out. …

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