Integrating leadership studies with experiential learning theory and practice
This paper seeks to examine the integration of leadership studies and experiential
learning effects within a semester-length university leadership course.
The paper describes and analyses the integration of experiential learning with
the teaching of leadership using context, content and culture of a local
government setting. The outcomes of a semester’s work are considered in relation
to students’ views on the benefits derived from the embedding of experiential
learning within a traditional senior-level university course.
Current leadership (and specifically, leadership development) research and
experiential learning research are considered and an attempt is made to see
if the integration of the two has met with the participants’ approval as shown
in four years’ worth of assessment data.
The “Leadership Experience” is described in detail with a focus on the integration
issue and the perception of the students on understanding leadership issues
during and after the opportunity to practise them within teams.
Without an experiential framework the students would be reduced to learning
only from the text, from films highlighting ‘good’ and ‘bad’ leadership and
from illustrations from the lecturer’s experiences. Such vicarious learning
is less valuable than the real learning facilitated by the experience of being
a leader, being a follower and being part of a team. These issues are
considered in detail in the paper.