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Title: Transformational and destructive instructor-leadership and their association with student engagement, burnout, and achievement in higher education
Author: Balwant, Paul
ISNI:       0000 0004 5916 1669
Awarding Body: University of Sheffield
Current Institution: University of Sheffield
Date of Award: 2015
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Instructor-leadership is defined as a process whereby instructors exert intentional influence over students to guide, structure, and facilitate activities and relationships. This dissertation focuses on instructor-leadership specifically in the context of higher education module/classroom interactions. In this context, research focused on the dominant theory of transformational leadership. This dissertation seeks to offer a balanced perspective on instructor-leadership by examining both transformational and destructive leadership. In so doing, this dissertation takes the first step towards unpicking leadership behaviours in a module by developing context-sensitive measures of both transformational and destructive instructor-leadership. These measures were specifically adapted to the unique situation of instructors in higher education institutions. For the transformational instructor-leadership measure, an education-based secondary dataset of over 2,700 students across the UK was used. The findings indicated three potential quasi-transformational instructor-leadership dimensions. In an additional independent study, these three dimensions showed weak incremental validity, and failed to tap into charisma. Therefore, this educationally-developed measure was used to enhance the context-sensitivity of an already established organizational behaviour measure of transformational leadership. This enhanced measure captured four dimensions of transformational instructor-leadership including idealized influence, consideration, intellectual stimulation, and direction and congruence. Direction and congruence substituted for inspirational motivation or vision in the higher education module context. In the final study, the items derived from the secondary dataset were reworded to reflect personal transformational instructor-leadership, and there was good support for the combined measure’s factor structure as well as its validity. For the destructive instructor-leadership measure, 13 in-depth semi-structured student interviews were conducted in order to determine how students’ perceive destructive leadership in the unique higher education module context. The results of a thematic analysis indicated that destructive instructor-leadership may be conceptualized as consisting of three dimensions, including callous communication, chaotic carelessness, and irresponsibility. The final quantitative study partially confirmed these three dimensions showing that chaotic carelessness slightly overlaps with callous communication and irresponsibility, and another dimension labelled victimization also emerged from the data. Using both of the context-sensitive leadership measures, the final study examined student engagement and burnout as mechanisms that mediated the relationship between (a) transformational instructor-leadership and student achievement, and (b) destructive instructor-leadership and student achievement. The results partially supported the hypothesized relationships. Theoretical and practical implications, along with limitations and suggestions for future research, were discussed.
Supervisor: Birdi, Kamal ; Stephan, Ute Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available