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Dissertation Abstract

The Relationship Between Transformational Leadership and Student Educational Outcomes as Moderated by Verbal and Nonverbal Immediacy

Stacy E. Hoehl
May 2008

Both transformational leadership and immediacy have received a great deal of research attention over the last few decades. However, the connection between these two research areas has not been previously explored, particularly in terms of their impact on educational outcomes. To this end, both the transformational leadership literature and the immediacy literature were reviewed, including their application and impact on educational outcomes. Then, a model was proposed to depict the hypothesized relationships among transformational leadership behaviors, immediacy behaviors, and student educational outcomes. It was hypothesized that both transformational leadership and immediacy behaviors would positively relate to student educational outcomes and that immediacy would moderate the relationship between transformational leadership and student educational outcomes. To test the study’s hypotheses, this research study implemented a cross-sectional survey design utilizing self-administered questionnaires that addressed transformational leadership behaviors, immediacy behaviors, and the student educational outcomes of affective learning, student evaluations of teacher credibility, and student motivation. Data were collected from a sample of 266 students attending a small, private, Midwestern, liberal arts college. The completed self-administered questionnaires were first analyzed with respect to demographic information. Additionally, multiple regression analyses were performed in order to empirically test the relationships among the components of transformational leadership, verbal and nonverbal immediacy, and educational outcomes. The results revealed that, while the various components of transformational leadership and immediacy offered insights into the teacher behaviors that positively impact student educational outcomes, three primary behaviors consistently served as significant indicators of affective learning, student evaluations of teacher credibility, and student motivation. These predictors included idealized influence, individualized consideration, and nonverbal immediacy. Therefore, the current study indicated that idealized influence, individualized consideration, and nonverbal immediacy behaviors deserve particular attention from educational leaders. Future research should continue examining the concepts of transformational leadership and immediacy with respect to student educational outcomes. This research effort serves as just a starting point for offering today’s educators a practical means of engaging their students, igniting their enthusiasm for learning, and guiding them toward improved educational outcomes.