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Incremental Effects of Instructor Leadership Behaviors on Student Commitment and Intent to Continue in Course Studies: A Comparative Study

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TITLE Incremental Effects of Instructor Leadership Behaviors on Student Commitment and Intent to Continue in Course Studies: A Comparative Study
School of Global Leadership and Entrepreneurship
Regent University
Unpublished doctoral dissertation: April 2011

The purpose of this study was to investigate the incremental effects of instructor leadership practices in predicting student commitment and intent to continue in course studies within higher educational learning environments.

This study took place at a 2-year public technical college. This college is part of a statewide system created with the primary purpose of providing comprehensive technical education, workforce development, and educational services. The college includes some of the most geographically isolated areas of the state. A convenience sample of students enrolled in traditional, online, and hybrid courses was evaluated in the 2011 spring semester. The sample was chosen to provide approximately 100 students in each type of course—classroom, online, and hybrid. Of the 300 surveys distributed, 219 were completed (73% response rate). The typical respondent was female (59%), 18-25 years old (54%), Caucasian (52% and 43% African American). from the traditional learning environment 59%), and enrolled in 3-4 courses (52%). Science (29%) and Math (26%) had the highest number of student participants. Students complete the LPI-Observer about their instructors generally, the Institutional Commitment Questionnaire, the Intent to Persist Questionnaire (Hadre and Reeve, 2003), and Student Satisfactory Inventory (Noel-Levitz, 2006). Each individual dimension of the LPI showed high scale reliability in this study: Model .91, Inspire .93, Challenge .90, Enable .92, and Encourage .93.

Enable was the leadership practice with the highest frequency score, followed by Model, then Challenge and Inspire, and Encourage. Hierarchical multiple regression analysis revealed that the five leadership practices accounted for 51 percent of the variance for student commitment, with Inspire and Challenge making the largest contributions. The five leadership practices accounted for 35 percent of the variance around intent to continue in course studies. Course design, communication of course expectations, and feedback of course performance correlated positively and significantly with all five LPI variables.

The author concludes:

The data from this study suggest that across alternative types of courses, instructor leadership behaviors do make a statistically significant difference in the levels of student commitment and intent to continue in course studies. Conversely, other factors may influence whether or not students remain enrolled, such as financial aid, family, and support; however, this study presented evidence that leadership behaviors exhibited by instructors across learning environments make an incremental contribution to student commitment and likelihood of completion (p. 59).

There is support for the idea that leadership by teachers in the classroom may play a significant role in student success (Leithwood & Levin, 2005; Strodl, 1992; Wallace, 2006). This study supports the idea that leadership behaviors could have an important effect on student success. While instructor leadership remains foreign to many educators (Wallace, 2006), this study supports the idea that exhibiting leadership behaviors could make a difference in whether or not students are committed to the learning environment and the completion of their course of study (p. 65).


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