The doctoral cohort studying educational leadership at Drake University’s School of Education (SOE) walked away from their course in advanced leadership feeling more accomplished than ever. Together, and in a very short time frame, the students wrote a comprehensive leadership book that is available for purchase worldwide on Amazon.com.
“This cohort faced a nearly impossible task. They were charged with writing, editing, designing, and publishing a book—from start to finish, cover-to-cover—in only 29 days,” says Tom Buckmiller, assistant professor of education and instructor for the advanced leadership course.
Buckmiller designed the class based on an innovative teaching technique known as project-based learning.
“Oftentimes assignments are a series of exercises that are necessary to learn a certain set of credentials,” says Buckmiller. “Project-based learning is learning by doing, helping students construct and apply knowledge and skills.”
As the doctoral students learned about leadership styles and strategies, they had to put those skills into action in order to complete the book by deadline.
“Stakes were high, emotions were high—they were forced to tackle the issues in a real setting,” says Buckmiller. “They used what they were learning about leadership to get the job done. And they exceeded my expectations.”
The book, Follow the Leader?, is a collection of ideas, thoughts, experiences, research, and personal narratives from the next generation of leaders—the students in the class. Erin Lain, assistant dean of academic services in the Drake Law School and SOE student, wrote about the role emotional intelligence plays in leading.
“I hadn’t heard of project-based learning prior to the class,” says Lain. “It was a really successful experiment. I learned so much about the leadership styles of my classmates and my own leadership style, as well as cutting edge theories and literature about leadership.”
Buckmiller says the course served as a good way to prepare the students for writing their dissertations.
“My other hope with the course was that they would gain some dissertation skills—being disciplined, working through writers block, and giving and receiving feedback,” says Buckmiller. “I hope this course better prepared them for that process.”