Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Putting It Together: A Grounded Theory Approach to Exploring the Role of Performing Arts Studies in Educational Leadership Development
by Jacobs, Jenny, Ed.D., California State University, Long Beach, 2019, 233; 13886879
Abstract (Summary)

Evidence exists that the performing arts (dance, music, and theatre) foster skills, qualities, and capacities that are vital to a 21st century education. However, despite being known to promote essential learning experiences, the performing arts are often overlooked, underfunded, and undervalued across institutions of higher education because of disciplinary hierarchies, which ebb and flow with the tide of workforce demands and cultural values. As the nature of higher education leadership continues to shift, concerns about how to prepare leaders for the ever-evolving demands of institutions grow, and the pool of qualified potential educational leaders shrinks, all of which is contributing to a looming leadership crisis in higher education. The purpose of this research was (a) to understand the value of the performing arts in higher education by exploring the intersection of the performing arts and leadership, and (b) to develop a better understanding of the contributions the performing arts make to leadership development in the hopes of expanding the notion of who is capable of leading and of dismantling problematic valuations of performing arts studies and programs.

A conceptual framework, composed of adaptive, authentic, charismatic, servant, and transformational leadership theories, was used as a lens for the literature review and discussion of findings related to the literature. A grounded theory approach was used to explore how 18 educational leaders (e.g., presidents, provosts, deans), who have completed at least one graduate degree in the performing arts (dance, music, theatre), understand the relationship between their leadership and performing arts backgrounds. Participants completed semi-structured interviews and a short demographic questionnaire. An interpretive symbolic interactionism perspective guided the dramaturgical analysis of interview and questionnaire data that had been coded by hand and in NVivo during a four-phase coding process that employed initial, focused, axial, and theoretical coding.

Participants described their performing arts education as influencing and impacting their leadership development and trajectory, as well as shaping the style and effectiveness of their leadership. Participants ascribed considerable personal and professional meaning to their performing arts backgrounds and made direct connections between their performing arts studies and current leadership competencies. Findings suggest the performing arts are fitting training grounds for leaders, which may even result in a distinct leadership style that is highly effective for educational leadership.

This research has contributed to a deeper understanding of the intersection between performing arts and leadership by revealing that the processes performing artists navigate in their studies and careers mirrors those of educational leaders. This research implies that encouraging more performing arts educators and practitioners to step into leadership roles could be beneficial for higher education because their unique qualifications are in high demand, especially when considering the looming educational leadership crisis. Recommendations include suggestions for policies and practices related to pedagogy, curriculum development, hiring, and funding, as well as suggestions for future research about perceptions and the moral and ethical development of leaders with performing arts backgrounds.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Vega, William M.
Commitee: Haviland, Don, Romali, Reagan F.
School: California State University, Long Beach
Department: Educational Leadership
School Location: United States -- California
Source: DAI-A 81/2(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Higher education, Performing Arts, Performing arts education
Keywords: Arts leadership, Experiential learning, Grounded theory approach, Leadership development
Publication Number: 13886879
ISBN: 9781085607667
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