Exploring Performative Inquiry As a Tool for Leadership Development in EDUC 813

Grant program: Teaching and Learning Development Grant (TLDG)

Grant recipients: Lynn Fels and Michelle Nilson, Faculty of Education

Project team: Bryan Gopaul, research assistant

Timeframe: January to December 2012

Funding: $3,000

Description: In 2008, when Sarah Palin became (in)famous in the media as a representative of women in leadership, we began to explore the representations of leadership and performance. Initially we gathered literature that was related to the notion of performing leadership roles and leadership as performance. After several discussions about leadership development and performance through performative inquiry pedagogy, we began to explore the idea of introducing these two separate but connected ideas in EDUC 813 Organizational Theories in Education. This course is considered to be particularly dry by many students and instructors. A performative inquiry approach could help students become more engaged and could help them to gain a core competency by developing an understanding of the relationship between leadership and organizations.

To determine whether performative inquiry contributes to leadership development among course participants, students will be asked to complete surveys about their leadership identity development at the beginning and end of the course. Students will also participate in weekly performative inquiry activities, preceded and followed by "quickwrites" that allow them to reflect on the experiences and the process. The instructor will also maintain a journal to record her thoughts and feelings as leader of the performative inquiry process.

The findings will help us to understand the use of performative inquiry and related activities as a pedagogical strategy for active and reflective engagement of students. In addition, this study may further our understanding of leadership development through pedagogical practices of inquiry and reflection through performance.

Questions addressed:

  • Is there evidence of increasing leadership development of students in an organizational theory class that uses performative inquiry?
  • What perceptions and forms of leadership emerge when graduate students collaboratively create through drama activities such as role drama or play-building?

Knowledge sharing: We plan to share our work locally with students and other faculty members at the Summer Institute and Education Without Borders conferences at SFU in 2012. We also plan to publish in scholarship of teaching and learning (SOTL), arts education, and higher education and leadership teaching journals. Further, a proposal discussing this work was accepted for a symposium at the 2012 American Educational Research Association (AERA) Conference in Vancouver.