Doctor of Philosophy
Whitney S. Newcomb
MAKING LEADERS: EXAMINING HOW ELEMENTARY SCHOOL STUDENTS DEVELOP AN UNDERSTANDING OF LEADERSHIP AND SHOW EMERGING LEADERSHIP TENDENCIES
By Sarah E. Evans, Ph.D.
A dissertation submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy at Virginia Commonwealth University.
Virginia Commonwealth University, 2014
Director: Whitney Sherman Newcomb, Ph.D.
Professor, Educational Leadership
The purpose of this study was to understand how young children develop skills and concepts of leadership, when nurtured in a developmentally appropriate manner. Leadership was defined as a process that people use to bring out the best in themselves and others, while working towards a common purpose. This study examined a leadership curriculum, The Leader in Me, as it was being taught in an elementary school, grades K-5. The researcher used a qualitative lens to understand parents’ and teachers’ perceptions of the program, and the study findings indicated that The Leader in Me was used as both a way to teach leadership and for behavior modification. Teachers reported teaching leadership through direct instruction, informal instruction, curriculum materials, and practice. In addition, the children’s leadership behaviors were analyzed through the transformational leadership model to find The Leader in Me resulted in attempting to make transformational leaders. The children showed signs of transformational leadership through the behaviors of the 4 I’s: idealized influence, inspirational motivation, intellectual stimulation, and individualized consideration. The data further showed positive gains in school culture, leadership development, and personal growth. Standardized testing pass rates were examined, but the researcher found the leadership program had no discernable impact on student achievement. This study found that there is merit in looking to our nation’s educational system to support the intentional process of developing leaders in schools.
Keywords: leaders, leadership, leadership development in children, The Leader in Me, 7 Habits, transformational leadership
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