Dr. David Rosch is an Associate Professor in the Agricultural Leadership, Education, and Communications Program at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. There, he teaches courses on leadership theory and adult training and development and researches the impact of leadership training initiatives. During his time on the faculty at Illinois, he has been named to the university’s list of “Instructors Ranked as Excellent” each semester.
Dr. Lori E. Kniffin (she/her) is an Assistant Professor of Leadership at Fort Hays State University. She teaches a variety of undergraduate and graduate courses through in-person and virtual modalities. Her experience teaching her department’s qualitative methods course has led to her passion for developing future leadership practitioner-scholars. Her teaching and research interests include collective leadership development, civic leadership, service-learning and community engagement, critical leadership studies, and qualitative research methods.
About the Book - Introduction to Research in Leadership
Introduction to Research in Leadership examines the process and skills required for effectively researching the concept of leadership. Its authors employ a microscope for close analysis and build balconies to see trends and gain perspective. Designed to be imminently practical, it employs concrete examples of fictional graduate students, faculty, and professionals struggling with their issues to help readers make sense of the world of research and its complexities. Filled with personal anecdotes, stories, and even a touch of humor each chapter weaves in relevant concepts so that those beginning the process of producing scholarship can start on a productive path and with a positive attitude.
Resources Mentioned in This Episode
About The International Leadership Association (ILA)
About The Boler College of Business at John Carroll University
About Scott J. Allen
My Approach to Hosting
Note: Voice-to-text transcriptions are about 90% accurate, and conversations-to-text do not always translate perfectly. I include it to provide you with the spirit of the conversation.
Scott Allen 0:00
Okay, everybody, welcome to the Phronesis Podcast. Today, I have two guests, they have just co-authored a book along with Kathy Guthrie, who cannot be with us today. But I have David Rosch, and I have Lori Kniffin. And David currently serves as an associate professor in the Agricultural Leadership Education and Communications program at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign. There, he teaches courses on Leadership Theory and Adult Training and Development and conducts research on the impact of leadership training initiatives. During his time on the faculty at Illinois, he has been named to the university's list of instructors ranked as excellent each semester. Now, that is an accomplishment, sir.
David Rosch 0:42
Yes, it is.
Scott Allen 0:42
Yes, it is. Dr. Rosch currently serves as editor-in-chief of the Journal of Campus Activities Practice and Scholarship. He is on the editorial Managing Board of the Journal of Leadership Education. Additionally, Dr. Rosch is the Senior Research Fellow for the collegiate leadership competition. Dr. Rosch has long been active in professional societies and organizations dedicated to the study and practice of leadership. He has served as chair of the leadership scholarship member interest group of the International Leadership Association, the co-coordinator of the National Leadership Symposium, and a faculty member of the Leadership Educators Academy. Dr. Rosch was awarded the Inaugural Distinguished Scholar Award from the Association of Leadership Educators. Dave earned a Ph.D. in Higher Post Secondary Education from Syracuse University, an MS in Student Affairs in Higher Education from Colorado State University, and a BS in psychology from Binghamton University in New York.
Dr. Lori Kniffin is an assistant professor of leadership at Fort Hays State University. She teaches a variety of undergraduate and graduate courses through in-person and virtual modalities. Her experience teaching her department's qualitative methods course has led to her passion for developing future leadership practitioner-scholars. Her teaching and research interests include collective leadership development, civic leadership, service learning, and community engagement, critical leadership studies, qualitative research methods, the list goes on. She currently collaborates with teams of colleagues on scholarship projects related to assessing partnership quality community campus engagement partnerships, and collective leadership development in cross-sectional settings. Lori serves as a reviewer for The Journal of Leadership Education. She participated in the International Leadership Association's Emerging Scholars Research Consortium and has served as chair for ILA's leadership scholarship member community. Lori was honored by the Association of Leadership Educators as a Founding Mothers student scholar in 2019 and received their Outstanding Workshop award in 2019 and 2022. She served as the board chair of the Facing project and helped establish the Facing project press. Lori earned her Ph.D. in educational studies with a concentration in cultural foundations from the University of North Carolina, Greensboro in 2019. Her dissertation was titled ‘The impact of collective leadership development on the practice of civic leadership.’ She received a Master's in Counseling and Student Development from Kansas State University in 2014. Lori is glad to be back in Kansas near her friends and family and enjoys playing softball, riding horses, hiking, and camping in Colorado. That sounds like very fun stuff, Lori. I like it. You can't really hike and camp in Champaign Urbana. It's just not the same as Colorado. (Laughs)
Well, to the two of you, I am so thankful for you being here today. You have authored a very, very important book, and it's called ‘Introduction to Research in Leadership.’ Now, for listeners, we're gonna geek out a little bit today, but I want to impress the fact that this text is just, in my opinion, it's groundbreaking because I don't know of any other text, and Dave, correct me if I'm wrong, that specifically addresses the content around leadership and some of the quantitative and qualitative research methods. So, why don't the two of you maybe go into a little bit of the background of your thinking about why this book was needed?
David Rosch 4:11
Sure. And Lori, please jump in also. We started talking about this book back in 2018. And the idea is, we've talked about this in other podcasts on Phronesis with you, Scott, there are so many things that we need to understand and know about the way leaders develop, the concept of leadership, and how it shows up in the world, the way people think about leadership and the increasing things that we need to do to inform our thinking around the entire concept. And, if we think about the number of programs that focus on leadership studies, leadership scholarship, leadership education, leadership development, the books that they're using to help them increase their scholarship, do research, assess the impact of their programs, they're not leadership-specific. They're designed as textbooks for a broad variety of social sciences. And given the fact that leadership as a discipline is still relatively new as a social science, it's been around a lot fewer years than some of the other social sciences, we really felt like we needed a text that would be specific to the concepts thatare sort of driving the conversation around leadership in our field today. That ground these methodological types of ways that we can increase our understanding about things in the examples of those concepts.
Scott Allen 5:27
Lori Kniffin 5:28
Yes. I don't know how many of you out there are teaching courses in leadership and in qualitative methods, but I've gotten to do that for the last several years, and texts like this can be incredibly helpful. I know that I'm always trying to supplement. I’m pulling readings from here, and here, and here, and a lot of them are talking about the leadership context, and so then I have to add those examples in, or help students to think of ways in which they can research that. As well as just our own practice, like, we’re teaching or doing leadership. And so, I think having something that's more contextualized to the field can be really helpful.
Scott Allen 6:03
Well, how I think about this is that you are grounding a generation because there'll be multiple editions of this book.
David Rosch 6:09
Oh, of course.
Scott Allen 6:10
A generation of generations, seriously, of individuals who are not only being educated with this text by scholars who use this, but we're going to be building a generation of individuals who are starting there versus having to piece it together. They're going to have to hunt for these resources, and you've put them all in one spot, which I think is just a major contribution to the space. So, in a general sense, I'm seeing quantitative and qualitative. Maybe take us through some of the interesting components that you think listeners may find intriguing for each of those general domains.
David Rosch 6:47
Sure, Scott. And first, thanks for the compliments that you're showering us with as your listeners are along for this journey. It is something we spent a lot of time thinking about, trying to make a textbook on research methods interesting and accessible. And I remember when we had drafted out the first chapter, and I sent the first chapter to my parents because they were interested, their son had not written a book before. And I asked them for their feedback, and they said, “Well, we didn't fall asleep.” So, right then, I think that we knew we were onto something a little bit with the interesting parts of this book. A couple of things I'll highlight. And Lori, you and I could talk about maybe how we divided tasks, and quantitative, and qualitative, and some other other aspects of things. At least, the way I think about things, what makes this textbook interesting for people to check out is that we very explicitly did not want to make it feel like a research methods textbook. We recognize that people learn things in stories. We learn from reading stories of people, rather than dry concepts and the description of those concepts. So, we very specifically tried to start out every chapter by covering a different aspect of doing scholarship and research, with a story of a fictional person struggling with something that was related to that research methods concept. So, we created all these fictional characters that came from a variety of different backgrounds, people who are interested in the context of leadership and the concept of doing research related to leadership. So, the chapters explain the concepts, but they're really telling the story of this character who's trying to go through their own journey of learning how to do research related to leadership. So, we cover things like how to do a literature review, how to think about working with humans ethically, how to do quantitative research, and what that even means. What does quantitative research even mean? The same thing to qualitative research; what does qualitative research even mean from the context of someone who's just at the beginning of their journey, starting to think about some of those things? And then, we end with some calls to action. Given the state of where we're at with the status of leadership scholarship, where do we need to go in the future? And how do we continue learning and growing? So, as Lori mentioned, it’s designed for graduate students who are in class, instructors who are teaching these types of classes, but really, anyone who is just interested in learning about how to increase their knowledge around the concept.
Scott Allen 9:13
Yeah. Lori, what do you think?
Lori Kniffin 9:15
Yeah, and I think starting off with that not needing to know a bunch of stuff before this, that it really can be an introductory text. And so, that was something I was kind of challenged with, or just had really present in mind as I was writing was, I have some students who come into my course, and just the fact that there's research in the title of the course has them very nervous, or not feeling confident, and I tried to like deconstruct that, like, “What is happening here that you learned about research that makes you so nervous?” Because I see it, all of my students make it through that course very successfully. And it is a lot of work and it's challenging, that's what I love about research is how complex and really neat it can be, but it also doesn't need to be scary. And so, I think the way this book is laid out is a really great introduction for people who don't know that much about research, or it's a really good refresher for other people who want to come back to the building blocks of it. And it starts out with talking about research overall, more broadly, like in the field. And then, there are two sections that are kind of equally distributed across quantitative and qualitative because we know both of those are incredibly important to our field. And then, there's also a chapter that kind of ties together and says, “And also mixed methods are important as well. If you've learned the foundational concepts of these two, then you might also think about ways that they work together.” And so, I also really like that it wasn't just a quantitative perspective or just a qualitative perspective, but it really sets that up so that people who may not know what they want to use based on their approaches, or what the thing is that they're studying, this book might help give them that kind of overview and understanding of different types of approaches so they even know what other type of courses to go take, or how to start a pilot study, for example.
Scott Allen 11:03
Yeah. And I just love the fact that you are giving balance to these two different paradigms, and we can learn valuable insights from both. And so, I think that's just absolutely wonderful. And then, of course, mixed methods, combining the two to produce interesting scholarship. What surprised you as you were going through this process? What are a couple of things that surprised you about doing this work?
David Rosch 11:28
Where my head goes when you're asking that question, Scott is in the process of writing the book. So, not necessarily how to even figure out what was in the textbook, but book writing in general. Lori, feel free to weigh in also; there were so many other parts about writing a book that are not just writing the text.
Scott Allen 11:47
We got to do promos and get on the podcast circuit.
David Rosch 11:50
Yes. Phronesis is part of the thing.
Scott Allen 11:53
Truly the only podcast you need. Yes, yes.
David Rosch 11:56
But even thinking about… Well, to your point, though, how do we get the word out? How do we tell people that we have these ideas, even things like Lori, Kathy, and I were discussing? What's the image that we want to show people at the beginning of the book? And what are some of the stories that we want to tell? I'm thinking about Lori telling some stories about how she cooks, literally, in the kitchen.
Lori Kniffin 12:18
I was going to say that's what surprised me, Dave, is that I actually brought up cooking because I really hate cooking. But there's a full metaphor here about cooking as research in chapter eight.
Scott Allen 12:29
But I love that.
David Rosch 12:29
The whole book is just really designed to make it seem like you're not reading a research methods textbook. So, like another surprising thing, and this organically came up, we tell stories about ourselves in the textbook to use as examples. So like, for example… And we try to be relatively interesting and maybe even a little funny. So, Kathy and I poke fun at ourselves in the chapter about how to do library research, telling the story of how our experiences as children of the ‘80s and ‘90s were different than Lori's experiences as she was a little bit more of a recent research graduate assistant. And how we would leave the library armed with our photocopied articles being about seven pounds lighter because we paid all our quarters into the photocopy machine, whereas Lori had a very different experience. And that's designed to help these students who are just new to understanding how to do research. Yeah, it's not like there's a formal scary process. There's a human process to this.
Scott Allen 13:33
I love it.
Lori Kniffin 13:34
Yes. And I think about that kind of evolution of how research has been, that there are a lot of examples that Dave and Kathy were joking about. And I’m like, “I don't think you can loop me into that because I've this… They even brought up foot pedals, and I'm like, “Oh, is that still something that we need to talk about in transcription?” And apparently, you can still check out the pedals for that. So we were trying to poke fun of that but also talk about new ways that people are doing things. And I really do think that there's going to… We're going to need to edit this and have future editions just because the field of leadership is still growing, and our methods need to grow to match that. We don't have a whole set of existing methods and approaches that really, I think, are fully capturing and giving us the right process to understand new ways of thinking about leadership. So, one thing I do in the book really encourages people to just don't know and understand the methodology but also innovate and craft as they go along. There might be reasons to merge those together. And not to do that just to do it, but to have a rationalization of, “This doesn't quite fit with me,” or, “I really want to pull from these different things.” So, I think we also invite these newer emerging scholars to co-create the field of research along the way.
Scott Allen 14:54
That's so cool. Hypothetically, if the two of you were to start working on not a second edition of this, but another volume, what are some things that are emerging that are on your radar? And it could be from different disciplines, approaches to gathering, and to conducting research. What are some things that you can see as possibilities?
Lori Kniffin 15:20
I see; I guess the way in which I was taught research was more of a kind of this focused singular study, even if that meant a lot of participants. And I feel like leadership is really complex now that it's not just a certain set of participants that you can engage in directly that it's happening across systems. And that's still what's kind of compounding is how do we look at leadership that is sometimes visible and vocal, and sometimes silent and subversive? And how do we capture all of that? So, I think things around social network analysis, or thinking of multiple ways that people can participate, not just through interviews and focus groups, but maybe things that they're writing about their own reflections and incorporating that. So, I think just more… I'm really intrigued by this idea of just more complex practices of leadership, and then how do we diversify our methods in the same study to get at multiple perspectives of what's happening in the system?
Scott Allen 16:25
Wow, in the same study. So, Lori, let me know if I'm kind of tracking with you here. So, for instance, I'm listening to a book right now, Dave, I just sent you a note the other day about the art of the impossible. And, in this book, Steven Kotler starts talking about fMRI studies. So, we could observe a phenomenon and observe behaviors, potentially, and someone engaging in some activity, and we could look at it through that lens. Maybe there's a rubric, maybe there's some other way we're tracking behavior, but we could also look at what's happening in their brain. And we can be doing fMRI research and looking at what's happening for them from a whole brain perspective. And Kotler does that with flow, at least, he described studies where they're doing that with flow, and what parts of people's brains are lighting up versus not. So, it'd be the same thing, but we could look at it from a quantitative perspective, a qualitative perspective, we could look at it from a -- what would the word be? A neuro perspective, I don't know.
Lori Kniffin 17:30
Yeah, I think so. And just that I think I've seen a lot of research, we would just assume it all happens in a room with people that we know. But I think, within larger networks, there might be people who are exercising leadership in that same system that aren't always in the same room. We’re more dispersed; things are happening online, they're happening through email, they're happening through all sorts of different types of communication, so it's harder to sit and observe. We have to invite others into a process of being able to share thoughts or reflections, or mapping connections and things like that. That's just kind of where my mind goes for just a curiosity of where the next wave is. And there's already research coming out about that, but to think about writing it into a methods book for our leadership practitioners and scholars would be really awesome.
Scott Allen 18:19
Dave, how are you thinking about it?
David Rosch 18:21
Well, I totally agree with what Lori was talking about. One of the ways we tried to think about this textbook is we tried to make it as short as we could possibly make it while still talking about the points that we know that scholars starting their journey as scholars need to know about. So, what that left is some hard decisions about what we didn't talk about. So, everything that Lori is talking about, and Scott, you're mentioning fMRI, I think we have one footnote on fMRI studies as they relate to leadership development because we need to understand how people's brains change at the moment as they engage in some of these behaviors or learn about some of these things. I'm not really kicking myself, but thinking about it as a last opportunity, there is nowhere in our textbook where we mentioned artificial intelligence. And I feel like, three years from now, we need to write Volume II because that's going to be such a fundamental aspect of engaging in the library research process of understanding what people already know about. If you're going to build on things, AI is going to be a great tool for that. We talk about how to think about Wikipedia, we talk about how to think about Google Scholar, we talk about paywalls, and access to university libraries, and things like that. So, we go in that direction, but there are so many more directions that we could go in in a future volume, as you talked about.
Scott Allen 19:45
I love it. Lori?
Lori Kniffin 19:45
We also have a chapter that talks about critical scholarship and critical inquiry, and I already think there could be a whole volume just on that, a whole book just on that. We talked about that a little bit of… We have a chapter; what can we dedicate here versus all the things that are out there? So, in some ways, we hope to point people to other resources as well, “If you look at the references and things that we're seeing here, if you want to learn more, go to this area,” because it's really a jumping-off point. And we can’t cover everything in this, but I think other things are either footnotes or references that and give people a place to go if they want to dive deeper.
Scott Allen 20:25
Okay. What else do listeners need to know?
David Rosch 20:28
So, one thing that is on my mind, and we haven't brought it up yet, is the state ofe the field; there are… Let's say there's X amount of people whose job it is to build scholarship related to leadership, and there's Y amount of students who engage in research methods classes, taking classes, writing papers, and doing things. Y is much larger than X, and that's the state in any field. One of the things that I think I'm proud of for our book is that we include how to translate your master's thesis or doctoral dissertation into a published article. a whole section on how you train And how to think about different, how to think about the lit review and methods section is different, and how to think about how you describe your results is different. With the thought being that we can then take this Y population of students who do all of this great work, but then they deposit, and it sits, and then do a little bit more work and now have that out in a publication that people have continual access to and be able to see. So, hopefully, for those of you listening, and you might be a graduate student right now if you read nothing else in this textbook, I would suggest you read those three pages to think about those things.
Scott Allen 21:36
Just those three pages.
David Rosch 21:37
Just those three pages, if nothing else.
Scott Allen 21:39
Well, I really, really do. I meant what I said, I think this is a very, very important book. It's a book that even as I reflect on myself as a young scholar, I wish that I had had. I wish that I had not only read it, but I wish that I had had an educator use it because I think it contextualizes the work in a really, really nice way. And situates it in leadership, which is the thing that I have a passion for. And then, from the sounds of it, you taking this approach of trying to make it interesting, trying to make it engaging, trying to make it relatable, I think it's invaluable. Anything else that listeners need to know, as you reflect on our time together today? And then we'll begin to wind down.
Lori Kniffin 22:22
Well, I think you told us to think a little bit about practical tips. And my mind had gone there around more for the practitioners. So, I think, a lot of times, students go into courses or programs that have them intentionally set up studies. And there's a lot of supervision and process already laid out there to start from the beginning and write those initial chapters, and then go do the study after it's all approved. I think as you become a practitioner. You're trying to do leadership research, especially you’re maybe teaching and learning or development of research, sometimes you get in a moment where you're doing that, you're thinking, ”Oh, I should really study this. And it's really tempting to jump into data collection,” or, “We shouldn't be gathering these papers,” or, “We should be recording these sessions,” or those sorts of things. I feel that if I had advice for people in our field who are continuing to do that type of research, I would be really intentional about setting up really good studies. And a resource like this might help in that because it's a little bit 'workbooky' and might remind people of those steps, but to really think about setting up good methods, quantitative, qualitative, or mixed methods, however, that you're being intentional about what are your questions? What are your paradigms? And why are you collecting that data that you're collecting? So that when you get to the end, that it's very strong. Good study versus, “Oh, we found this, and now how do we talk about it in an article?”
Scott Allen 23:49
(Laughs) That’s the kind of “beep beep” like backing in.
Lori Kniffin 23:51
Backing up. Oh, and I have been part of that too where it's just like, “Oh, gosh, I wish I would have done this from the beginning,” but we were so busy and we just started it. And so, yeah, I would put more time upfront. And I think something like this could be a good reminder to do that.
Scott Allen 24:05
Well, it sounds like you are providing listeners and readers with the building blocks of how to put that infrastructure in place from the beginning so that there's a higher likelihood of publication. So, a stronger scholarship, and then, we as a collective move forward more rapidly. I think it's brilliant. I think it's wonderful. Well, to the two of you, I always close out the podcast by asking what's caught your attention recently? What's been on your radar? It could have something to do with leadership, it may have nothing to do with leadership. But what are some things that have caught your attention? It could be something you've been listening to, streaming, or reading. What are some of those resources that listeners might be interested in?
Lori Kniffin 24:47
I have been reading this book, and there's going to be a discussion around it soon called ‘Building Collective Leadership for Culture Change' by Maria Avila and her colleagues. And I've been immersing myself more in this topic of collective leadership. It's just my approach to leadership and thinking about how to articulate [Inaudible 25:05] in projects. I got some really awesome colleagues around that. But thinking about new ways of practicing leadership, and that type of book is just talking about how do we build that into cultures, and specifically, in this one around higher education, but I think that that has translation across to other sectors as well. So, that's on my radar, and there's a discussion coming up around that book soon that is just really driving me to read it now, even though I have a very busy part of the semester.
Scott Allen 25:33
Yeah, very much so. Dave, how about you?
David Rosch 25:36
So, what has my brain churning just over the past couple of days, I listened to an episode of Ezra Klein's podcast. He's a New York Times opinion writer. The topic of the podcast was about COVID-19 revisionism. It was an interview with a public health administrator talking about, on a surface, how we can take what we've learned about COVID-19 and move it forward to just thinking about how humans interact in, specifically, in a public health context. But, even more so, how do we even engage in the process of learning how things work? And what I mean by that, the guest was talking about the revisionism that people begin to think about related to the entirely huge societal changes that were taking place in the spring and fall of 2020 around public school closures, around masking, around how we understand how vaccines work, and it's really about, at its basic level, it's about science, and how, as a public, we don't do a great job of describing the power of science, the limitations of science, and even how to think about how people do science. And that got us into a lot of challenges related to COVID-19. And I was thinking about that podcast as I was doing my exercise workouts for the past couple of mornings, thinking about this podcast episode and talking about this book, about research scholarship, and how, really, we need to get better at just thinking about the process of engaging in science. So, that's what's got my brain churning that in the context of COVID-19.
Scott Allen 27:11
Well, it's so interesting. And this is probably not factually accurate, but almost everything we've ever known wasn't true.
David Rosch 27:18
Scott Allen 27:19
Let's talk about the universe, and probably what we know today about the universe will not be true a decade from now, we would have learned. And in that process, there will be dissenting opinions as to what's been learned, whether it's string theory, or some other dominant paradigm that emerges. It's unfortunate that, at times, that has to occur in public and on the fly, which then creates a lot of confusion.
David Rosch 27:43
Definitely. Right in the intro of our book, we talked about Galileo, and how Galileo was sentenced to house arrest given how the revolutionary thought that he advanced that the Earth is not the center of the universe. Science is hard.
Scott Allen 27:58
It's hard, and we're learning.
David Rosch 28:02
And we continue to do so.
Scott Allen 28:03
Wow. Just think of something as simple as cancer research, the pace at which we are learning and the new paradigms that are emerging, whether it's immunotherapy, or some other approaches to addressing cancer, it's fascinating. And anyone can find an expert to kind of validate whatever their paradigm is. And so, it's very, very interesting. Okay. So, I will put a link to that in the show notes, Dave, that's wonderful.
David Rosch 28:28
Scott Allen 28:30
To the two of you, thank you very, very much for your good work. I meant every word of it. I think this is needed, I think it's adding value, and I think it's very, very important work. So, thanks for your good work.
Lori Kniffin 28:39
David Rosch 28:39
Thank you, Dr. Allen. Thanks for having us on.
[End Of Audio]