Exploring leadership in distance education, the blueprint for success: A study of self-reported leadership practices and institutional characteristics
George Timmons, Bowling Green State University, United States
Bowling Green State University . Awarded
Considering the vast amount of resources invested in technology and distance education programs across America's institutions of higher education, the researcher believes that this study has provided institutions with a blueprint for identifying successful distance education administration. The purpose of this study was to identify both the actual and ideal leadership practices of selected distance education administrators, and investigate the possibility that these leadership practices may be different based upon institutional type. The Carnegie Foundation's Classification of Institutions of Higher Education identifies the institutions in this study.
To assess the leadership practices of administrators at the forefront of the distance education field, the researcher revised with permission, the Leadership Practices Inventory-Self (LPI) (1997) developed by Kouzes and Posner. Specifically, the survey evaluated five leadership practices: Challenging the Process, Inspiring a Vision, Enabling Others to Act, Modeling the Way, and Encouraging the Heart. In addition, the aim of this study was, in part, to examine to what extent external factors had a bearing on the development and success of distance education programs. External factors included the impact of state, grant, and corporate funding, student characteristics, and geographic location. Participants were also asked to indicate what external factors they perceived as having a bearing on the development and success of distance education programs.
The study included 38 participants from 9 of the 22 Carnegie Foundation's Classification of Institutions of Higher Education categories yielding a response rate of 44%. The results revealed that the majority of the leaders possessed a terminal degree and had an average of 12.5 years in the distance education field. Furthermore, the LPI-Self identified Enabling Others to Act, Modeling the Way, and Encouraging the Heart as the top three leadership practices of distance education administrators at the forefront of the field. Leaders also name accessibility and development of new technology, competition from virtual and for-profit institutions, and securing external funds as significant external factors that they believe can have a bearing on the development and success of distance learning programs.
Timmons, G. Exploring leadership in distance education, the blueprint for success: A study of self-reported leadership practices and institutional characteristics. Ph.D. thesis, Bowling Green State University.
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