Leadership Training and Experiences for Youth The Research Proposal

Excerpt from Research Proposal :

leadership training and experiences for youth. The research methodology was carefully drafted and developed as the best means for exploring this concept. A mixed methods, non-experimental, correlational study will be conducted to examine how problem solving, communication, and the building of self-esteem, contributes to early leadership training and development for youth in rural and inner city communities. While few research methodologies are perfect, this one has a tremendous amount of inherent strengths. One of the benefits of using a more mixed methods approach is that it will allow the researchers to gather data about this issue in a more comprehensive manner. Using both quantitative and qualitative approaches empowers the researchers to gather a wider net of data and to be able to process it from a larger variety of perspectives.

If anything, the wealth of previous literature supports this exact methodology for this particular subject matter. The study, "Personality and Leadership: A Qualitative and Quantitative Review" by Judge and colleagues looked at the following: "This article provides a qualitative review of the trait perspective in leadership research, followed by a meta-analysis. The authors used the five-factor model as an organizing framework and meta-analyzed 222 correlations from 73 samples. Overall, the correlations with leadership were Neuroticism .24, Extraversion

.31, Openness to Experience .24, Agreeableness .08, and Conscientiousness .28. Results indicated that the relations of Neuroticism, Extraversion, Openness to Experience, and Conscientiousness with leadership generalized in that more than 90% of the individual correlations were greater than 0. Extraversion was the most consistent correlate of leadership across study settings and leadership criteria (leader emergence and leadership effectiveness)" (Judge et al., 2002). The sheer structure of this study demonstrated how important the mixed methods design was in analyzing and interpreting the data. Furthermore, it demonstrates the importance of both quantitative and qualitative forms of design with this particular subject matter. This study looked at things like personality, neuroticism, conscientiousness and other qualities -- all which directly relate to self-esteem. Since self-esteem is a major research question in the research study proposed, it is definitely important to see how other researchers have been able to gather data regarding this exact subject using a mixed methods design. Furthermore, given the ephemeral nature of self-esteem and the variety of ways that it can manifest, it's truly important to employ both quantitative and qualitative methods of acquiring data.

This leads to one of the most overwhelming reasons that the following method and means of research design was proposed: the complexity of the subject matter. Leadership and youth and how it manifests and develops is indeed a very intricate subject and dynamic and studying it is a formidable endeavor. Thus, in order to collect the most nuanced data available and to be able to interpret it in a variety of ways, there needs to be more than one method. As De Lisle quotes the work of Mason in the paper "The Benefits and Challenges of Mixing Methods and Methodologies, the following idea is offered: "I suggest that a 'qualitatively driven' approach to mixing methods offers enormous potential for generating new ways of understanding the complexities and contexts of social experience, and for enhancing our capacities for social explanation and generalization. Such an approach can draw on and extend some of the best principles of qualitative enquiry. In the process, it can benefit from ways in which qualitative researchers have sought to develop constructivist epistemologies and to engage with thorny methodological issues especially around questions of interpretation and explanation (Mason, 2006, p. 10)" (De Lisle, 2011). This summary aptly demonstrates the inherent benefit of mixing methodologies when focusing on more elusive subject matter. Fundamentally, researchers are attempting to determine how dynamics work when it comes to any given subject: they're seeking to be able to deepen their understanding of a concept or phenomenon. A mixed methods approach inherently offers such a deepened perspective.

The importance of the first research question -- one which examines the relationship between leadership and self-esteem -- is indeed an important one. This delicate relationship is one which needs to be adequately explored as previous research studies have found time and again that leadership skills and self-esteem do in fact have a strong bond. "Hill and Ritchie (1977) suggested that self-esteem -- another indicator of low Neuroticism (Eysenck, 1990) -- is predictive of leadership: 'It appears that there is convincing evidence for the inclusion of self-esteem as an important trait of both superior and subordinate in analyzing leadership effectiveness" (Hill & Ritchie, 1977, p. 499)" (Judge et al., 2002). This should definitely not come as a surprise to anyone. In order to lead others, one needs to believe that one is worthy of leading. One has to have a strong sense of the value that one has to give to others. One needs to feel entitled in leading. Thus, in order to create an effective leadership program for youths and in order to successfully build up leadership in youths and all the skills connected to leadership, the issue of self-esteem absolutely cannot be overlooked.

As a result of the fact that self-esteem can be an elusive quality to develop, it's thus important that researchers be willing to explore the relationship between early leadership training and this quality in a variety of ways. Researchers have long known the importance of self-esteem at least academically. "Research indicates high self-esteem serves as a protective factor to youth involvement in risky health behavior. High self-esteem is associated with high academic achievement, involvement in sport and physical activity, and development of effective coping, und peer pressure resistance skills. Conversely, low self-esteem is associated with youth involvement in alcohol, tobacco, and other drug use; depression; suicide; violence; early sexual activity; teenage pregnancy; and poor peer relationships. In the school environment, high levels of self-esteem increase the likelihood that youth will connect positively to peers, teachers, and the school as a whole, important determinants of academic success" (King, 2002). These are findings that countless amounts of research have corroborated repeatedly over the years. Academics, pedagogues, and scientists are aware of the importance of self-esteem for youth in manifesting positive outcomes, however, the most effective way in which to develop high levels of self-esteem has remained more nebulous.

What research has demonstrated, however, is that self-esteem can be developed through mentorship-based leadership training. Mentors truly have a powerful opportunity to help develop the self-esteem of youth by engaging youth in specific activities that are designed to bolster self-esteem. These activities are generally based on the four conditions of self-esteem, a sense of power, uniqueness, positive role models, and a sense of connectedness all conveyed via positive role models (King, 2002). The role of a mentor in bolstering self-esteem and with it a youth's leadership capabilities, is not to be underestimated and is something that this research needs to explore in a more full-bodied and nuanced manner. For instance, in the research conducted by King and colleagues, it was found that mentor-centric self-esteem building activities were most effective for youths, particularly when mentors took the time to select activities that they felt were best for that particular child; basically self-esteem building activities were most effective when they were individualized (King, 2002). However, the activities had to be selected from one of the four conditions of self-esteem and be focused on developing that quality within the child.

A mixed methods research design is ideal for determining and better understanding the second research question, which explores the relationship between early leadership training and problem solving skills. As one research study admits, "Leadership skills are essential for young people to feel satisfaction and contribute to society (Scheer, 1997). For today's at-risk youth, opportunities to acquire these skills may not be readily available. Many youth-serving organizations serve youth who are primarily from advantaged families (Hobbs, 1999). While 4-H prides itself on providing leadership opportunities to all youth, attracting at-risk youth can be challenging" (Boyd, 2001). Proper problem-solving skills is a bracket of leadership training, of course, however, it remains to be seen if early leadership training can cultivate problem-solving skills in such a way, that these skills organically start to evolve in youths. For example, within the program 4-H, leaders teach kids problem solving skills in an eight-step method. These are skills that have long gone under-developed or unrecognized in children. Research still needs to better explore if teaching such skills at a younger age means that children develop a greater level of fluency for these skills or develop them at a faster rate. There needs to be a clearer evaluation and assessment of how problem-solving skills in particular can contribute to an overall fostering of leadership. This research design is prime for uncovering such a relationship. The quantitative aspect of the research design will be able to better zero in on tendencies and frequencies and be able to uncover patterns in behavior as well as patterns in effectiveness.

Fundamentally, mixed methods research design is able to do this in a way which is innate and…

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