The purpose of this qualitative multiple-case study was to explore and identify informal faculty leadership (IFL) practices in progressive, post-secondary settings known as Learning Colleges. Subordinate to this was the identification of administrative practices and structures enabling or obstructing IFL. The unit of analysis was three Learning Colleges, identified as exemplars of Learning College best practices. Three types of data were gathered for triangulation purposes. The mission, vision, and values statements of each college were examined for consistencies with the Learning College Movement and IFL. From the three identified colleges, two presidents and one senior vice-president were interviewed, and 52 faculty members were surveyed to identify current informal faculty leadership practices, potential new applications, and administrative behaviors advancing or inhibiting this practice. While the documents of all three colleges delineated the importance of faculty in achieving their respective goals, the role of IFL was not specifically addressed. In interviews, the three administrators acknowledged the critical role of faculty in their college's reform efforts and reinforced the importance of ongoing collaboration between administration and faculty in achieving the college's purposes. Specific examples included faculty roles in professional development, innovative practices, and as leading purveyors for a variety of change initiatives. Faculty reported a broad spectrum of peer leadership behaviors that influenced their actions including collaboration, communication, innovation, and risk-taking. From points of convergence, current examples of informal faculty leadership revealed that administrators and faculty members recognized the value of IFL to their college's mission – learning. Both groups viewed this as a prime vehicle for improvement, and characterized informal faculty leaders as crucial change agents. Recommendations for administrators and faculty include embracing collaboration and innovation as primary change modalities. Professional development needs to be faculty driven and strongly resourced by administration. Specific programs advocated by both groups include Service Learning and the use of emerging technologies. Practices recommended include moving innovation to institutionalization seamlessly and including faculty members in every step. Future research should include further exploration into IFL, additional programs such as the mentoring of students, and the role of middle-level management as critical facilitators of informal faculty leadership.
|School Location:||United States -- Arizona|
|Source:||DAI-A 74/11(E), Dissertation Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||Community college education, Educational leadership|
|Keywords:||Faculty leadership, Informal leadership, Learning Colleges, Transformational leadership|
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