'You’re not a leader because you stand above everyone. You’re a leader because you're willing to… walk with everyone': A study of student leadership in a peer-assisted learning program at an Australian university

PhD Thesis


Kimmins, Rosalind R.. 2021. 'You’re not a leader because you stand above everyone. You’re a leader because you're willing to… walk with everyone': A study of student leadership in a peer-assisted learning program at an Australian university. PhD Thesis Doctor of Philosophy. University of Southern Queensland. https://doi.org/10.26192/q7q4y
Title

'You’re not a leader because you stand above everyone. You’re a leader because you're willing to… walk with everyone': A study of student leadership in a peer-assisted learning program at an Australian university

TypePhD Thesis
Authors
AuthorKimmins, Rosalind R.
Supervisor
1. FirstA/Pr Fernando Padro
2. SecondProf Patrick Danaher
Institution of OriginUniversity of Southern Queensland
Qualification NameDoctor of Philosophy
Number of Pages361
Year2021
PublisherUniversity of Southern Queensland
Place of PublicationAustralia
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.26192/q7q4y
Abstract

Meet-Up was a peer-assisted learning (PAL) program at the University of Southern Queensland, Australia. As with most PAL programs, its goal was to assist participating students by offering them opportunities to increase their understandings of discipline-specific concepts and study skills advice. The focus of much of the research in PAL is on the participating students; there have been relatively few studies of university student leadership within PAL programs, particularly from the student leaders' perspectives. This study was designed to redress this gap.

Specifically, the aim of the research was to contribute to the knowledge and understanding of student leadership in higher education, and of the ways that the student leaders in the Meet-Up program made sense of their role. To achieve this, the study engaged a phenomenographic approach (Marton, 1981) and a sensemaking lens (Weick, 1995). The pairing of these two analytical frameworks, operating in tandem, resulted in the realisation of the research aim: phenomenography yielded the participants' understandings of the phenomenon of student leadership; sensemaking generated an understanding of the participants' experiences and enactments in their role as Meet-Up leaders.

Twenty student leaders from the Meet-Up program were interviewed for the study. The interviews were conducted using the phenomenographic approach of broad, open-ended questions. Analysis of the interview data revealed distinct variations in the participants' descriptions of the phenomenon of student leadership, generating three categories of description of student leadership and forming the outcome space:• Category A: Student leadership as personal: it involves utilising and developing personal characteristics.• Category B: Student leadership as contextual: it is defined by the operating environment or context.• Category C: Student leadership as relational: it is about the relationships that develop.

Application of the sensemaking lens to the participants' responses determined that they made sense of their role as Meet-Up leaders by engaging their personal characteristics to enact the behaviours required. In addition, sensemaking established that the participants' enactments in the role had shaped their development as individuals, students and leaders.

The findings from the study could be used to inform the design, implementation and practice not only of PAL programs, but also potentially of other student leadership programs that promote the development of leadership in students.

Keywordspeer-assisted learning, phenomenography, sensemaking, student development in higher education, student leadership in higher education
ANZSRC Field of Research 2020390402. Education assessment and evaluation
390203. Sociology of education
390499. Specialist studies in education not elsewhere classified
390401. Comparative and cross-cultural education
390412. Teacher and student wellbeing
390303. Higher education
390307. Teacher education and professional development of educators
399999. Other education not elsewhere classified
390399. Education systems not elsewhere classified
390199. Curriculum and pedagogy not elsewhere classified
Public Notes

File reproduced in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher/author.

Byline AffiliationsSchool of Education
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