StudentsÕ Perception of Servant Leadership Among Physical Therapy Faculty and the Educational Environment


As the societal demand for physical therapy in the United States increases, scholars underscore the importance of elucidating key pedagogical domains and student support strategies to enhance physical therapy education. StudentÕs perception of the educational environment (EE) has been identified as a key pedagogical domain linked to motivation, well-being, and academic performance. Importantly, perceived leadership behaviors of faculty are suggested to influence student affective and psychomotor domains within and outside the classroom, including studentsÕ perception of the EE. Servant leadership, guided by the paradoxical belief that to lead one must serve others first, has been suggested to align with physical therapyÕs core values and is associated with positive organizational outcomes. Unfortunately, investigations examining the relationship between physical therapy studentsÕ perception of servant leadership behaviors of faculty and the EE are limited. The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship between physical therapy studentsÕ perception of servant leadership behaviors of faculty and the EE.


48 physical therapy students at the end of entry-level training completed two survey instruments including 1.) the Dundee Ready Education Environment Measure (DREEM), with 50 closed-ended 5-point Likert scale items (0=Óstrongly disagreeÓ to 4=Óstrongly agreeÓ) to examine overall EE perception (151-200 = an excellent EE) as well as five subscales (perception of learning, perception of teachers, academic self-perceptions, atmosphere, and social self-perceptions), and 2.) the Servant Leadership 7 (SL-7), with 7 closed-ended 7-point Likert scale items (1= Òstrongly disagreeÓ to 7= Òstrongly agreeÓ) for an overall score of perceived servant leadership behaviors of their most influential faculty member. Descriptive statistics and correlational analysis (r) between SL-7 and DREEMÕs overall and subscales scores were performed. The coefficient of determination (r2) was used to examine the relationship between the SL-7 and the DREEM. Statistical significance was accepted at p < 0.05.


SL-7 scores averaged between ÒagreeÓ and Òstrongly agreeÓ (6.14±0.84) with overall perception of the EE to be ÒexcellentÓ (157.85±18.69). SL-7 displayed a moderate positive relationship correlation (r =0.55, p < 0.001) to overall DREEM score. SL-7 displayed a moderate positive linear relationship, explaining 30% of the variance in overall EE perception (r2 =0.30, p < 0.001) and a moderate positive linear relationship on subscales of studentÕs social self-perceptions (r2 =0.35, p < 0.001) and perception of learning (r2 =0.26, p < 0.001).

Conclusions/Relevance to the conference theme:

StudentsÕ perception of servant leadership among faculty demonstrated a moderate positive linear relationship to studentsÕ overall EE. These findings reinforce the value of perceived leadership behaviors among faculty in the promotion of student success within physical therapy education, and a call for higher education administrators to explore the tenets of servant leadership when designing faculty development programs to improve teaching and learning environments.

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  • Control #: 26443
  • Type: Platform Presentation - Research Type
  • Event/Year: ELC2020
  • Authors: Brad Willis
  • Keywords:

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