Graduate Students Meet Cinematic Leaders: A Creative Final Project for Managerial/Leadership Course

Saturday, 26 July 2014: 3:30 PM

Tova Hendel, PhD, RN
Nursing Department, Tel Aviv University, Tel Aviv, Israel

Background – Learning human behaviour and response in variety of situations is often difficult. Review of the literature reveal that nursing education is based strongly on traditional teaching methods and points to the need to incorporate new ways of teaching – learning and evaluation methods. The use of aesthetic experiences, in nursing education, movies being one of them, provide students with vivid portrayals of peoples' thoughts, emotions, feelings, human interactions, and everyday life situations and enable them to analyse their behaviours and responses.  

Purpose – Enhancing students' awareness and understanding of managerial leadership concepts and theories by cinema viewing and reviewing, and assessing their ability to integrate body of knowledge learned through analysing a cinematic leader characteristics.    

Method – A list of 40 movies was prepared focusing on popular historic/social leaders. Some examples are: Norma Rae (1979), Gandhi (1982), Truman (1995), Joan of Arc (1999), Erin Brocovich (2000), Devil wears Prada (2006), Elizabeth: The Golden Age (2007); Che (2008); . Students were required to watch, in pairs, a movie assigned to them and follow written guidelines for the final project for the course.
The guidelines included a brief overview of the movie, description of the leader and his leadership characteristics and style, reference to selected aspects such as basic values reflected in the movie, the use of power resources, interpersonal communication methods, collaboration with others, analysis of the leader's characteristics in a relation to the literature and conclusions. 

An evaluation tool was developed asking students' evaluation with regard to the process and the outcomes of the project, about previous experience with watching movies as a basis for writing assignments, their experience watching the film and the contribution to knowledge and understanding of the contents learned in the course.              

Result - Seventy graduate students (average age 38) answered the questionnaire at the end of the 2012-2013 courses. Approximately 91% did not have previous experience with films as a tool for writing assignments for a course. About 93% of the students pointed out that the assignment was a hekpful/very helpful learning experience for writing the final paper. About 80% of the students recommended/highly recommended the use of cinematic movies for future assignments. The participants were asked: "what do you consider to be the main benefits of the movie to your learning process?" and "What were the main disadvantages of using the movies for the end project?" Students' feedbacks included statements such as "enjoyable assignment", "different and interesting", "challenging" and "innovative". 

Conclusions - Educators have to develop creative and innovative teaching strategies to meet students' learning needs. The use of popular movies was found as an effective, affective, and cognitive learning and evaluation tool. It helped to facilitate leadership theories through the analysis process and create tangible experiences for the graduate students. Using movies to teach and evaluate both undergraduate and graduate students is another way to engage students in the teaching-learning process.