Imagery of Regent people and campus

Dissertation Abstract

Autonomous Learning and Constructivist Leadership: A Case Study in Learning Organizations


James G. Coe
Regent University

This research sought to investigate the hindrances constructivist leaders, or undergraduate professors, experience when considering transference of control for learning events to autonomous learners. This phenomenological study focused on the above phenomena experienced by constructivist leaders teaching in a small Christian liberal arts university. A triangulation of data collection involved selected professor interviews and their students' interviews plus observations of professors' classroom instruction. Five steps recommended by Moustakas (1994) were utilized: first, an epoche of a pilot study was written including personal experiences of the phenomenon under investigation; second, an identification was made of significant statements from interviews, incidents from class observations, and statements in syllabi; third, significant statements, observations, and artifacts were grouped into themes; fourth, a synthesizes was created into a description of the experiences of the professors; and fifth, a composite description of the meanings and the essences of the experience were given. The theoretical foundation of this study focused on constructivism and constructivist leaders, autonomous learners, and behavioralism; these variables cause faculty to consider giving or not giving autonomous learners control for their learning; this impacts the facilitator of learning who often holds the control for learning. Constructivist leadership principles mandate shared responsibility with learners. A behavioralist action presents a hindrance to giving control to autonomous learners, and it emphasizes the need to control for learning outcomes and for the knowledge base. The hindrances found from the research data, which are highlighted in the discussion chapter were the following problem areas: behaviorism teaching methodologies, information giving, ownership for learning, hesitant autonomous learners, inactive listening, leaders' self-importance, site of learning, learning outcome assessment, preparation for facilitating autonomous learners, lack of enthusiasm for learning, administrative policy, and little reflection time.