An assessment of effective/less effective educational leadership on the campus of two-year public community junior colleges in Texas

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1977

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Study Rationale and Purpose Community and junior college literature supports the fact that the community junior college wishes to be known and recognized as a "teaching college" and that the individual within the administrative structure primarily responsible for promoting the teaching-learning process is the academic dean/dean of instruction. The purpose of this investigation was to study the effectiveness dimension of educational leadership on the canpus of community junior colleges. The target population was the academic dean/dean of instruction of all two-year public community junior colleges in Texas. The total identified population of academic deans/deans of instruction was 60, representing 47 community junior colleges, districts, or systems. From this identified population, a usable sample of 53 or 88 percent participated in this investigation. Conceptual Framework The conceptual frame of reference utilized in this investigation was that developed by W. J. Reddin, a "3-D Theory of Leadership Effectiveness" as presented in his book, Managerial Effectiveness (1970). This framework represents a "situational" approach to the study of leadership. The situation and its various elements must be understood before utilizing a particular leadership style. Leader effectiveness results from an appropriate match between a specific leadership style and situation requiring that specific style. Methodology and Procedures In order to assess effective/less effective educational leadership on the part of the deans, two instruments were utilized: (1) the "Educational Administrative Style Diagnosis Test," EASDT (with modified instructions), and (2) the "Educational Administrative Style Appropriateness Test," EASAT. The former is the result of research undertaken by Reddin and Reddin and served to identify the dean's dominant basic leadership style; the latter is an instrument of original design and measured the dean's response to specific situations. The EASAT is conposed of 12 situations typical of those confronting an academic dean/dean of instruction of a community junior college. Each situation is presented in a short narrative format with four corresponding alternative response behaviors; one representing each of the four basic leadership styles as presented by Reddin. For each situation, one of the alternative response behaviors was identified by a panel of experts to be the more appropriate alternative given the specific situation. Findings and Conclusions Contrary to what was hypothesized, no significant difference was found between dominant styles as exhibited by participating deans and their ability to choose the more appropriate response behavior to a variety of situations demanding different leadership styles. The identification of the dean's dominant style via the EASDT and his/her response to situations comprising the EASAT demanding that style did not prove to be significantly different when comparing a group of deans with a specific dominant style and their scores on the EASAT with all other deans as a group and their scores. Regardless of style, deans were able to diagnose a variety of situations and choose the more appropriate and therefore more effective style 77 percent of the time for situations comprising the EASAT. The overall high correlation of style to situation supports two inportant constructs of 3-D theory of leadership: (1) the ability of the leader to diagnose a specific situation and weigh the inportant element demands, and (2) the ability of the leader to choose the more appropriate behavior or style for that specific situation. This high percentage of more appropriate response behaviors to specific situations as measured by the EASAT, reflects a "perceptual flexibility." The EASAT appears appropriate for diagnostic and instructional purposes.

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