Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Exploring the critical learning moments of women community college executives: A phenomenological study of transformative educational leadership practices
by Ghaus-Kelley, Hawa, Ed.D., California State University, Northridge, 2014, 168; 3647780
Abstract (Summary)

The problem that this research study addressed was the need to explore the meaning of critical learning moments (CLM) phenomena in the transformative leadership practices of women executive leaders of 2-year public colleges in California. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to explore the meaning community college women executive leaders ascribe to CLM in their educational leadership practices in order to better understand how they are leading their colleges toward transformative, systemic reform. CLM are self-reflective opportunities of the significant occasions when overall lived histories of leadership experiences intersect with organizational knowledge and educational practice that lead to systemic reform for their campuses, with the potential to convey meaningful and insightful perspectives for women executive leaders. The study used a phenomenological multisite study design and a multi-theoretical lens by merging concepts of leadership theories and models related to adaptive and emergent female styles of transformative leadership with critical feminist theory to examine and document the leadership experiences and leadership practices of known change agents to better understand how systemic reform can best be implemented to benefit key stakeholders in our nation’s largest public higher educational institutions. Purposeful, network, and criterion sampling strategies limited the participant sample size to women CEOs serving in four distinctive leadership levels whom successfully led their institutions to systemic reform. Three discreet categories of results developed: 4 Leadership Profiles, 3 Profile Themes, and 6 CLM Themes. Findings break new ground in illuminating the previous gap in empirical knowledge surrounding CLM phenomena in the leadership experiences and leadership practices of women executive change agents in community colleges and districts in California. In informing educational policy and leadership practice, findings revealed the challenges women leaders face with economic, political, and budgetary issues in leading their colleges, internal organizational issues in advancing to CEO, social issues with regard to district and college CEO leaders’ interactions, and gender issues with regard to sexism and bigotry experienced in the workplace during previous leadership roles or in seeking higher positions. Consequently, gender was individually & organizationally significant; participants experienced sexism, gender issues, and perceived divergent leadership styles and differing expectations than men in the same administrative positions. As a phenomenological critical study, it confirms previous feminist theorists’ findings on organizational change being central to improving social, political and economically equitable reform for women. Findings contribute to building transformative change theory, providing a better understanding of how, why, and when women change-agent leaders use reform practices in leading systemic change, and new knowledge about female executive leaders in 2-year community colleges as adaptive, emergent reformers best suited for educational systemic reform in times of crisis, and ensuing periods of stability and growth. Furthermore, findings indicate that leadership training, mentor programs, and professional development activities at the district and college campus sites are crucial to developing future community college leaders, with a special regard to underrepresented and marginalized groups, given the current state of CEO retirements and future vacancies. Implications for policy, practice and recommendations for further research are also offered.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Durdella, Nathan
Commitee: Dunlap, Jody, Harrison, Dianne F.
School: California State University, Northridge
Department: Educational Leadership and Policy Studies
School Location: United States -- California
Source: MAI 54/02M(E), Masters Abstracts International
Subjects: Community college education, Higher Education Administration, Educational leadership, Womens studies
Keywords: Community college leaders, Critical learning moments, Leadership, Phenomenology, Transformative leadership, Women administrators
Publication Number: 3647780
ISBN: 9781321419627
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