Apprendre à être un Leader dans un Programme de Leadership: Perceptions, Éxpérience Préalable en Leadership et Sexe de l’Étudiant
Autre titre : Learning to Lead in a Leadership Program: Perceptions, Prior Leadership Experience, and Gender
Date de publication2010
The purpose of this study was to examine whether leadership can be learned through the Community Recreation and Leadership Training (CRLT) program and how effective the program is in terms of changing the perceptions and abilities of the students. The intentions of the researcher were to discover crucial learning moments as perceived by students and to gain insights that could lead to future improvements to enhance and enrich learning in a leadership program. To continue to be a viable program and to keep step with the demands of the recreation/leisure industry and society's wide-ranging needs, this study may help to inform the program's 'action plan' for continued success. This study employed a mixed method approach to determine how college students develop effective leadership ability in a three-year Community Recreation and Leadership Training (CRLT) college career program. First, a number of statistical tests were carried out to examine the four research questions used to guide the study. The SPSS software was used to analyze the data collected. The first research question asked how perceptions of leadership change as a result of being in a three-year leadership program. This study, using the Student Leadership Practice Inventory (SLPI), compared the five SLPI leadership dimensions by year. The SLPI was administered to all the first, second, and third year CRLT students ( N = 84). A one-way analysis of variance in participants' scores was conducted. No significant differences were revealed in any of the five dimensions of the SLPI among the first, second, and third year students at p < .05. However, two dimensions (model and encourage) approached significance and may hint at a possible influence the program is having on its students as they progress into the third year. The second research question asked whether perceptions of leadership vary by gender. Comparing the mean scores between the males and females on the five dimensions of the SLPI, no significant differences were found. The third research question asked whether prior leadership experience results in better academic performance for CRLT students in their 1st term. A one-way analysis of variance was conducted to evaluate the relationship between prior leadership experience and mean scores on academic performance. No significant correlations were found between grades and low, medium, or high levels of prior leadership experience F(2,79) = 2.67, p = .08. A correlation coefficient was also computed to determine whether there was a relationship between the Recreation Leadership I course grade and prior leadership experience. The correlation coefficient (.02) was statistically significant, r(80) = .24, p < .05. However, further studies with a larger sample size would be necessary to help determine this. The fourth question asked whether there was a correlation between students' first semester grades and their scores on the Student Leadership Practice Inventory (SLPI). Bivariate correlations (Pearson) were computed for the five SLPI dimensions with academic performance. None of the correlations using the five SLPI indicators was significant. Qualitative data was examined to discover what factors and experiences help students to assert a more effective leadership role. The study relied on content analysis of personal statements, and focus groups. Student perceptions of an effective leader, students' perceptions of their own abilities, and the strengths of the program were explored. A content analysis of the 'Personal Statements' was carried out to determine how students defined leadership prior to their having had any formal teaching in a college program. The result of the analysis of personal statements provided eight leadership categories used as an initial baseline for the study. Six focus groups (totaling N = 30) were conducted. Students responded to four key questions: how they define leadership. What is the single most effective quality of a leader? What leadership skills did they feel they had gained? How had the program helped them obtain their skills? Students credited the CRLT program with helping them develop a variety of leadership skills. Students revealed that they had gained skills such as confidence, knowledge and understanding of people's needs, and becoming more self-directed. They attributed their skill development to such things as good course design, intensive outdoor education and fieldwork courses, "hands on" learning approaches, group work, skill practice, the support they received from teachers, and encouragement they were given by their peers. A common finding among genders was defining an effective leader as someone who is "confident". However, the definition of the most important quality of a leader varied by gender. While males showed a tendency to prefer a leader being "confident," females preferred a leader being a "teacher".
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