Imagery of Regent people and campus

Dissertation Abstract

Autonomous Learning in the Leadership Construct of Challenging the Process

Shelley M. Fisher
Regent University

This study focused on leaders understanding their own beliefs in order to become risk takers and change agents who challenge the process. Kouzes and Posner (1989) posited that reflection, innovation, creativity, and risk taking are needed to remove barriers to the status quo. Dispositional affects, such as autonomous learning (desire, initiative, persistence, and resourcefulness), are important to challenging the process. Unless employees believe that they have the necessary behavioral, cognitive, and motivational resources; they will dwell on the difficulty of the task and not exert the effort necessary to move the organization forward (Bandura, 1997). Autonomous learning and challenging the process are defined as well as shown through survey instruments; i.e., the “Challenging the Process” section of the Leader Practices Inventory (Kouzes & Posner, 1997) and the Appraisal of Learner Autonomy (Ponton, Derrick, Carr, & Hall, 2004). Surveys that addressed whether or not instruction improved autonomous learning over time (pretest, posttest, follow up) were distributed to principals, teachers, central office administrators, and university staff (N=70) in an urban teacher education program. Research suggested instruction changes autonomous learning over time (e.g., three tests differed at the p=.05 level). Correlation among autonomous learning and challenging the process follow-up scores were found at the p<.01 level (positively and statistically related to follow-up challenging the process composite scores).