Leadership: Taking Responsibility for Our Communities, and Making Them Better Through Public Action

July 8, 2011

Course Goals & Objectives

It is the premise of this course that leadership is a concept worth trying to understand as a process in which all can participate to varying degrees.  The underlying philosophy can be summarized as follows:

  1. we can identify characteristics of leadership;
  2. These characteristics are “learned” in some way that we can understand; and
  3. we can nurture this learning experience in a formal academic environment.

From the definition leadership printed at the top of the syllabus, it should be clear that this course has a strong civic engagement component.  Our understanding of leadership is grounded in the perception that all of us have the capacity and responsibility to contribute to the communities of which we are a part.  We will explore how we do this throughout the semester.

This raises two questions.  What will we learn?  How will we learn it?

Experts in pedagogy (the art or science of teaching) have classified learning into two general categories: deep learning and surface learning.  Each has its own characteristics, one matrix of these follows (Source: http://www.learningandteaching.info/learning/deepsurf.htm):

Deep  Learning vs. Surface  Learning

Focus is on “what is signified” vs. Focus is on the “signs” (or on the learning as a signifier of something else)

Relates previous knowledge to new knowledge vs. Focus on unrelated parts of the task

Relates knowledge from different courses vs. Information for assessment is simply memorized

Relates theoretical ideas to everyday experience vs. Facts and concepts are associated unreflectively

Relates and distinguishes evidence and argument vs. Principles are not distinguished from examples

Organizes and structures content into coherent whole vs. Task is treated as an external imposition

Emphasis is internal, from within the student vs. Emphasis is external, from demands of assessment

It is our intention to focus our attention on the practices most closely associated with deep learning.  Toward this end we will employ a combined lecture, discussion, and service-learning format.  I call this “triangulated learning.”  Students will play an active role in determining the quality of the course within the specified parameters.

Triangulated learning in this particular course is a pedagogical strategy used to undertake deep learning within the context of leadership education.  Objectives and expectations: this course is designed to help you reflect on elements of leadership within both theoretical and experiential contexts. This requires active learning and participation on the part of every student.

  • Help develop skills of critical inquiry
  • Learn about theories of leadership
  • Participate in activities where you will practice leadership skills
  • Use theory to inform practice and practice to inform theory
  • Reflect on your understanding of leadership and how it may apply to your life

Finally, this is an interdisciplinary course.  As such, we will explore leadership and its implications across the domains of the humanities/fine arts, sciences, and social sciences throughout the course.

Meeting the Goals and Objectives

In this section of ID315 the three sides of the triangle that we employ are:

  • Common readings
  • Service-learning/experiential learning
  • Discussion among peers and with the instructor

If we employ these sides successfully we have the opportunity to achieve deep learning about civically engaged leadership and about ourselves in the context of leadership.  At least that is our goal.

This is a goal that requires collaboration among a number of partners: the instructor, student colleagues, and community partners.  But by far the most important of these is you, the individual student, and your commitment.

For some students perhaps the least familiar aspect of triangulated learning is the service-learning/experiential learning component.  In this course we rely primarily on two venues: Community Builders and individualized service projects (ISPs).


Community Builders:  Fostering Intergenerational Civic Engagement (CB) was established in 2001 by three collaborating partners: Wartburg college students enrolled in this course, the 6th grade classes of the Waverly-Shell Rock School District and a group of adult volunteers, mostly retirees in the Waverly community.  Since its inception two more collaborating partners have joined, the 6th class of St. Paul’s School in Waverly, and Self-Help International, a nongovernmental organization which works the local populations in Ghana and Nicaragua to address rural poverty.  CB was created to form intergenerational learning communities focused on understanding and appreciating the relationships of individuals to communities and being civically engaged in communities both in a local and a global context.  See the appendix for more information about CB.

What are Individualized Service Projects?

Some students prefer to work on specific projects they have identified that meet the criteria of connecting leadership and civic engagement with the triangulated learning model.  This is certainly an option with instructor approval.  Guidelines for ISPs are found in the appendix.

Required Reading

Heifetz, R. & M. Linsky.  2002.  Leadership on the Line.

Moses, R. & C. Cobb.  2001.  Radical Equations: Civil Rights from Mississippi to the Algebra Project

Waldstein, F.  Unpublished.  “Triangulated Learning: A Bridge for Deep Impact Pedagogy and Leadership Education.”

Additional articles and other materials will be assigned as needed.

Assignment-Graded/PDF-Point value

Personal def. of leadership-PDF-10

Triangulated Learning wrksht-PDF-10

LoL wrksht #1-PDF-20

ISP Placement forms -See “my.-Wartburg”

Journal entry-PDF-20

Journal entry-graded-20

LoL wrksht #2-PDF-20

LoL wrksht #3-PDF-20

Journaling wrksht #1-PDF-20

LoL integrative essay #1-graded-100

RE wrksht #1-PDF-20

Service proj. present. wrksht #1-PDF-20

RE wrksht #2-PDF-20

RE integrative essay #2-graded-100

SL-9 wrksht #1-PDF-20

SL-9 integrative essay #3-graded-100

CBI, CBII, ISP eval.*-graded-100

Final present. material- PDF-20

Peer evaluation-graded-80

– -720

* Community Builders & Individualized Service Project grading scale (100 pts total)


  • Community Builders Evaluation materials provided by Bill Soesbeo
    • Personal journals (10%)
    • Journal replies (20%)
    • Community Builders surveys (10%)
    • Teacher and Adult Volunteer surveys (10%)
    • Evaluation by School Partnerships Coordinator (50%)
  • Individualized Service Projects (ISP).  See appendices B-1 to B-3
    • ISP placement form (10%)
    • Personal journals (20%)   See Appendix C
    • Site supervisor evaluation (20%)
    • Self-evaluation/reflection (20%)
    • Instructor evaluation (30%)

The bulk of your grade for this course will be determined by a series of integrative essays which you will write, evaluation by peers in your class, and your service project (whether that be Community Builders I, Community Builders II or Individual Service Projects).

Other elements of the class are required and graded P/D/F and are not factored into your grade unless you fail to complete the assignment as required (including timeliness).  Elements graded P/D/F include but are not necessarily limited to worksheets designed to help stimulate conversation with respect to reading assignments, journal entries, and attendance at certain events.

Timeliness is an essential characteristic of leadership.  In addition, this is a fast-paced course with many different activities.  Administrative necessity requires that assignments be completed in a timely manner.  All assignments are due at 1:00PM on the dates they are due unless otherwise noted.  Assignments must be completed in Microsoft Word and submitted to the “Coursework” section of “My Wartburg.”  The instructor reserves the right not to accept assignments that are late or to impose a point penalty at his discretion.  In addition, you are expected to be in your seat and ready to go at 1:00PM.  Peer learning requires everyone’s commitment to this goal.

Timely Feedback

Evidence indicates that timely feedback is important for the promotion of learning.  But what constitutes timely feedback?  Much of it is dependent upon the instruments used for evaluation.  A bubble exam that is machine scored can easily be returned within a day.  Evaluating a group of 25-35 essays cannot be done in a day.  A week would be considered timely using this kind of evaluation tool.  Late work will be reviewed as it can be fit in.

In ID315 we use only those evaluation tools that are consistent with the principles of deep learning.  Consequently, the student is asked to appreciate that the feedback loop will necessarily be longer than would be the case for some other assessment instruments.


What is a good integrative essay?  Several factors determine the answer.  First, it meets meeting the minimum requirements Note: all writing assignments must be typed.  Normal margins (1” on all sides) and font sizes (10, 11, or 12) are required.  Second, it means employing the rules of grammar and usage that reflect the ability of an educated person to communicate effectively.  Third, it means proofreading and editing your work.  Fourth, and most important, it means demonstrating those skills which demonstrate integrative learning.  This includes employing the skills of critical inquiry to find relevant connections among different readings, experiences and activities, and bringing them to bear on the immediate assignment at hand.  If you follow the rubric and meet its specifications you will be successful in meeting the essay requirement.  Rubrics may be found in the “Handout” section of “My Wartburg.”

The purpose of these essays is to accomplish the following:

  • provide you with the opportunity to write as a means for improving your writing skills;
  • encourage you to use your skills of critical inquiry to evaluate the topic under discussion within the context of contemporary leadership theory as discussed in the readings and in class.

Students often ask, what is the appropriate length of an essay for purposes of completing the assignment?  This is difficult to specify with precision.  From reading literally thousands of essays over many years a general rule of thumb is that you should be able to satisfactorily address the assignment in approximately 1,000-1500 words of text.

See Appendix A for the evaluation rubric used for grading integrative essays.


Evaluating others and being evaluated by others is something we experience throughout our lives.  However, many of us do not have the opportunity to engage in responsible evaluation of our peers in college.  This course is designed, in part, to address that concern.  As the instructor, I will, of course, be responsible for grading student performance.  But it is appropriate in a course that focuses on peer learning and leadership to share, in a limited way, some of that responsibility to give students the experience.  In the past, some students have not demonstrated sufficient capacity to distinguish among contributions among peers (e.g., awarding each member of the group the same point value).  This is always obvious because it stands out in comparison with those students who do take this important exercise seriously.  Consequently, I retain the right to make adjustments to your peer evaluation score depending upon my perception of the seriousness with which you have evaluated your peers.  If you follow the peer evaluation  rubric you should not have any difficulty.

Students Working on Their Leadership Certificate Portfolios

This course is tailor-made for students working on their LCPs.  Students in the past have used it to fulfill any number of components including the group work component, the service component, and the diversity component.  Indeed, many of the integrative essays and journal requirements have been easily adapted to complete the reflective essays necessary to satisfy components of the LCP.  Take advantage of this opportunity and maximize the value of the work you will be doing by keeping the LCP focus in mind.

REMINDER:  This syllabus and schedule is tentative and subject to revision at the discretion of the instructor.All members of the Wartburg community are expected to conform to the Wartburg College Honor Code.


Category:  Language Usage (spelling, grammar, usage, etc.)—25%

ID315 % points:  100-90 Almost no or no errors which clearly demonstrate proofreading and editing.  89-80 Some errors in language usage that could have been corrected with closer proofreading and editing. 79-70 Multiple errors in language usage which indicate little evidence of proofreading or editing. 69-60 Barely acceptable, difficult to determine writer intent.  <60 Not appropriate for college-level work.

Category:  Synthesis of ideas—20%

ID315 % points:  100-90 Use of multiple sources which are integrated into a coherent expression of connected ideas. 89-80 Use of multiple sources but they are not very well integrated or connected. 79-70 Only one or two sources are used and there is little connection between them. 69-60 Only one or two sources are used and there is no apparent connection between those that are used. <60 Not appropriate for college-level work.

Category:  Originality of Thought—20%

ID315 % points:  100-90 Ideas and concepts expressed link course content originally and creatively. 89-80 Ideas and concepts indicate familiarity with course content. 79-70 Ideas and concepts merely represent summarizing what was read or experienced with little critical thought. 69-60 The writing merely summarizes what was read or experienced without expressing ideas or concepts. <60 Not appropriate for college-level work.

Category: Completeness & Clarity of Thought—35%

ID315 % points:  100-90 The reader clearly understands what the reader is trying to communicate. 89-80 Reader generally understands writer’s intent although clarity and completeness could be further developed.79-70 Reader is left guessing at the writer’s intent. 69-60 The reader is unable to determine the writer’s intent. <60 Not appropriate for college-level work.

Appendix B-1

Independent Service Project Form

ID315 Community Service Site Placement Form(To be completed and returned electronically)


Name of Student:

Name of the placement site:

Type of activity performed by the placement site:

Client group served by the placement site:

Size and nature of placement site (number of staff, number of locations, profit/nonprofit organization)

Name and title of the specific site supervisor with whom the student will be working

Site Supervisor Contact information:

The specific nature of the type of work the student will be undertaking.

Approximate number of hours per week devoted to the service project and total number of hours.

Appendix B-2

Community Service Self-Assessment

Community Service Project Survey for ID315

Your Name:

Brief description of the project undertaken:

Approximate number of service hours provided by each student (hours per week; total hours)

Name of adult contact associated with this project:

On a scale of 1 to 5 with 5 indicating strong agreement and 1 indicating strong disagreement, will you please answer the following questions:

The adult contact has demonstrated enthusiasm for this project.

The adult contact was helpful in providing guidance for the project.

I would be pleased to work with this person again.

Please address the following:

  1. Identify that aspect of the project with which you are most satisfied and explain why.
  2. Identify that aspect of the project with which you are least satisfied and explain why.
  3. If you were starting over what would you do differently with respect to this project?
  4. In what ways did this project encourage you to invoke your skills of critical inquiry?
  5. What did you learn about leadership and civic engagement by undertaking this project?
  6. What letter grade would you give yourself for this project (with a brief explanation why)?

Appendix B-3

Independent Service Project Form

Site Supervisor Evaluation of Wartburg Leader

Student Leader’s Name

Dates of service

Please respond to the items listed below.  A 5 means you strongly agree with the statement.  A 1 means you strongly disagree with the statement.  Write “NA” if the item does not apply.

Student was well prepared.

Student was dressed appropriately for the setting.

Student kept on task.Student was self-motivated and required little supervision.

Student worked well with others.

The student fulfilled his/her obligations in a timely and responsible manner.

I would be happy to work with this student again if the opportunity presented itself.

Other comments:


(Please return in the stamped, self-addressed envelope enclosed.)

Appendix C

Journal Evaluation Criteria

The criteria for evaluating journals are set forth below and include the following components:

Degree to which entries demonstrate the skills of critical inquiry and deep learning (25%)

Degree to which entries relate to Wartburg’s definition of leadership (25%)

Degree to which journal entries relate to the literature and theoretical frameworks used in class. (25%)

Frequency of journal entries (25%)


Community Builders Executive Summary

Community Builders: Fostering Intergenerational Civic Engagement is an ongoing collaborative experiential learning project designed to foster greater understanding of and appreciation for the importance of community both locally and globally.  Wartburg College students work with elementary students, a local nongovernmental organization (Self-Help International) and senior citizens to meet the mutually reciprocal needs of all the collaborating partners.  The purpose of this project is to use the assets of community members with different cognitive, social, civic, and intergenerational backgrounds and skills to build and strengthen the community they share both locally and beyond.  These “community builders” are individuals who learn from one another in the quest to attain this common goal while developing and enhancing their own respective skill sets, which add value to their individual lives and the larger communities of which they are a part.  Beyond the learning that takes place regarding the value of community, these engaged citizens contribute to the strengthening of community by undertaking the project goals articulated.  This creation of “social capital” is consequential to the health and well-being of a democratic society.

The project has three interrelated and mutually reinforcing goals.  The first is to build intergenerational learning communities designed to develop and practice the skills of civic engagement and appreciate the value that it can add to the life of the individual citizen.  The second is to address specific educational needs and interests of all participants in the project, including enhanced reading and mapping skills, social and civic skills, and the skills of critical inquiry—all significant attributes to sustainable democratic society.  The third is to recognize and use the multifaceted talents and skills that each participant brings to the project.  The rationale for identifying these three objectives is to help participants appreciate that healthy, positive communities depend on the recognition that all individuals have needs that communities can help satisfy.  Simultaneously, all community members have the capacity to contribute to the quality of community life and deserve the opportunity to do so.

Wartburg participation falls within two contexts: primary participants and secondary participants.  The primary participants are students working under the supervision of faculty.  These students are direct participants in the learning communities throughout the project.  The secondary participants are students who work under the supervision of the community service coordinator and faculty in the mathematics & computer science and communication arts programs to provide logistical and technical support to the work of the learning communities.  This includes the development and maintenance of an Internet home page which serves as a communications tool for the project.

Community Builders was initiated in the fall of 2001 through a grant from the Consortium for the Advancement of Private Higher Education.  Ongoing costs of the project are met by the various constituent partners. Community Builders has been the recipient of numerous recognitions and awards including a “MacJannet Prize for Global Citizenship.”

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