WMU’s Master of Arts in Educational Leadership degree is based on a Performance Driven Leadership model in which students actively participate in a variety of activities designed to prepare them for the challenges faced by today’s educational organizations.
The PDL model provides students with the opportunity to merge cutting-edge theory into pertinent practices; an approach that represents a blending of an experiential program with theory-based instruction. PDL addresses many of the problems that have plagued traditional educational leadership programs.
The overall program is focused on preparing leaders ready to serve within the accountability era facing educational institutions today. Course objectives are based on input from superintendents, principals, master's graduates, current students, NCATE, and other exemplary programs around the country. Key foci include transformational and balanced leadership, systems thinking, change, and data-driven decision-making. The goal is to create effective leaders knowing not only what to do, but also knowing when, how, and why to do it.
Students demonstrate their competency by writing reflective essays, creating models, conducting administrative tasks through simulation activities, and completing projects for each content area of the curriculum.
The program includes a leadership core, a capstone experience, and one of four specialty concentrations:
The Performance Driven Leadership Model provides students the opportunity to merge theory into practice. Students develop a portfolio throughout their entire Master of Arts program by completing activities for specific classes and then packaging these products and reflections as part of a comprehensive electronic portfolio. The entire Performance Driven Leadership portfolio is thoroughly reviewed during The Capstone Experience (EDLD 6792), and serves as one method of demonstrating competency in each of the content areas. Graduates from this program use their portfolios as a resource in addressing their respective leadership responsibilities.
Student’s internship work within this program consists of two distinct experiences. First, students complete related field activities for each course, with the goal of extending the traditional classroom environment to the field, logging a minimum of three to five hours of field-experiences for their courses. Such field experiences and the relationship of theory to practice are discussed in each class. This contextual learning configuration makes learning more relevant and allows the student the opportunity to better understand the link between theory and practice. Students maintain a log of activities and contact hours with his or her mentor(s). It is also anticipated that mentors will provide students with other related experiences throughout the completion of the master's degree. The duration of the internship runs concurrently with the student’s master's degree.
The second part of the internship is the Capstone course or EDLD 6792. The Capstone is the final course taken in the Performance Driven Leadership curriculum. The capstone experience in the Master of Arts in Educational Leadership is an intensive internship coupled with independent study designed to meet individual needs and a set of investigative areas to meet more general program needs. Students enrolled in the Capstone attend class on a regular basis and are engaged in activities designed to complement internship experiences. This phase of the program is designed to bring clarification and closure to concepts throughout the master's. EDLD 6792 consolidates concepts learned in the Performance Driven Leadership Curriculum, continuing to merge theory with best practice. Questions arising from coursework and the related internship experiences are discussed and clarified.