Leading, learning, and teaching: an exploration of instructor leadership in a retention intervention program

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Ruth Norrine Ryida Re Reese (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site: http://library.uncg.edu/
Charles Gause

Abstract: There is a distressing dilemma in higher education concerning the increase in student attrition rates (Angelino, Williams, & Natvig, 2007; Hagedorn, 2006; Kramer, 2007; Lau, 2003, Seidman, 2005; Tinto, 2006). The seminal query of this study asks what higher education institutions are doing to effectively retain these students and secure student success. At a public university in the southeastern part of the United States, appreciative advising is utilized as a teaching strategy in a retention intervention program to answer this question. Developed as a theoretical framework by academic advisors where focus is on a student's strengths instead of on weaknesses (Bloom & Martin, 2002), appreciative advising was integrated into a curriculum designed to empower students to recover and retain academic good standing (Bloom, Hutson, & He, 2008; Bloom, Hutson, He, & Robinson, 2011; Hutson, 2006). This empowerment suggests a relationship between classroom instructor leadership and student self-leadership. The purpose of this study was to explore the perceptions of classroom instructors and how they describe their teaching experiences in this retention intervention program. The researcher desired to know how these classroom instructors perceived their role, experienced instructional leadership, and sought to facilitate self-leadership in their students. Specifically, how an appreciative mindset inspired transformational leadership, encouraged transformational teaching, and aspired to impact transformational learning. Utilizing a qualitative instrumental case study design and applying an interpretivist research paradigm, a total of eleven past and current instructors were interviewed employing online Email and Instant Messaging (IM)/Chat as a means of data collection (Briggs & Coleman, 2007). Unfortunately, the data analyses revealed 9 of the 11 instructors were neither familiar with the core principles of appreciative advising nor understand its relevancy to the retention intervention program. However, the data analyses also indicated the majority of instructors did perceive their role as influencing positive change in the attitudes and behaviors of their students regardless of this deficiency in their knowledge base. This evidenced an intuitive and deductive acknowledgment of appreciative advising in the instructors' teaching experience that innately supported an appreciative mindset. It is through the participants' appreciative mindset that appreciative advising and instructor leadership are explored. Several themes emerged from the data relative to leading, learning, teaching, and the appreciative mindset. These themes reflect the instructors' perceptions of their teaching experiences and student learning: (a) a sense of responsibility central to their desire to impact student success; (b) leadership defined as guiding versus influencing: (c) engaging with students in reflection a primary teaching strategy; (d) belief that student self-awareness contributes to empowerment resulting in self-appreciation; (e) opinion that owning the circumstances of their academic probationary status allows students to practice self-leadership. However, one major theme emerged: leading, learning, and teaching are all relational. This study suggests the integration of appreciative advising with instructional leadership may contribute to enhanced learning experiences for students in pedagogical contexts and increase undergraduate student retention.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2013
Appreciative Mindset, Instructor Leadership, Retention Intervention, Transformational Leadership, Transformational Learning, Transformational Teaching
Counseling in higher education $z United States
College dropouts $z United States $x Prevention
Teacher-student relationships $z United States

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