It would only seem natural that the most intelligent among us would be the ones who are the most successful, self-assured, and, well. . . just happy. Life has shown us, however, that this isn’t always the case. Why do some individuals seem to “have it all,” with just a modest level of intelligence? Luck? Maybe it’s more than that.
In his 1995 bestseller, “Emotional Intelligence,” author Dan Goleman presented the breakthrough idea that people’s ability to express themselves, understand others and deal with challenges and pressures might be more important than having a highly developed intellect. Thus, the science and measurement of emotional intelligence was born.
Although it seemed like certain people were blessed with high emotional intelligence at birth, further studies assure us that we are all capable of raising our scores in this area. Chris Moser, Ed.D., UF associate professor of education, and his son Matt, a doctoral candidate at Bowling Green State University, decided to research just how effective certain leadership courses in the University of Findlay’s Master of Arts in Education (MAE) program could be in increasing emotional intelligence. They reported their findings at the Critical Questions in Education Conference in San Antonio, Texas in March 2016.
“As a father, it was really a thrill to present at a professional conference with my son,” beamed Chris.
With a bachelor’s degree in finance and an MBA, Matt was well equipped for a career in banking, and worked for a while as a bank branch manager. Perhaps it was his father’s passion for teaching and corporate training that inspired Matt to change his career path to higher education. Collaborating with Chris, he developed a passion for research on emotional intelligence, and ultimately chose it as the focus of his dissertation.
UF Unique in ‘How We Teach’
The Moser “team” defined the purpose of their study as “investigating the impact of participating in selected graduate leadership courses on emotional intelligence development.” The University of Findlay proved to be an ideal resource with three leadership courses in its MAE curriculum; Being an Educational Leader, Principle-Centered Leadership, and Facilitator of Innovation and Strategic Management. As an assessment tool, the Bar-On EQ-i Assessment was made available to students one week prior to the beginning of the semester and one week after the conclusion of the semester.
“In the last 10 years, more than 110,000 people have taken the Bar-On EQ-i Assessment,” said Matt. The assessment is divided into “scales and subscales,” such as:
- Intrapersonal (self-awareness and self-expression)
- Interpersonal (social awareness and interpersonal relationships)
- Stress Management (emotional management and regulation)
- Adaptability (change management)
- General Mood (self-motivation)
The “pre” and “post” assessment scores showed that the three graduate leadership courses investigated increased the scores of students in almost all of Bar-On’s subscales, with statistically significant increases in the Emotional Self-Awareness, Self Regard, and Intrapersonal subscales. The significant increase in Self Awareness of students taking part in this study is particularly relevant since this subscale is the foundation upon which all other aspects of emotional intelligence are based. In addition, studies show that transformational leaders who are self-aware possess higher levels of self-confidence and self-efficiency because they feel they have greater control over relationships and events in life.
Chris and Matt went on to explain that the development of emotional intelligence is very beneficial for teachers, school administrators and human resource development professionals. Now they have data to support that the MAE graduate leadership offerings contribute to emotional intelligence development .
“We’re unique in how we teach leadership courses in the MAE program,” added Chris. “The three leadership courses selected for this study utilize a variety of self-assessments to identify strengths, preferences, challenges and limitations. Students are then able to reflect on their scores and put together a professional/personal plan to focus on areas they want to develop.”
The Emphasis on Emotional Intelligence
There seems to be a lot of support for the importance of emotional intelligence in personal, academic, and career success. In his book, author Goleman argued that success is based on “20 percent IQ and 80 percent other things.”
With the opportunities and challenges facing teachers and principals, a strong emotional intelligence score will help them build and sustain relationships with staff and students. We used to think it was “un-teachable.” Now we know, that like many skills, emotional intelligence can be developed through self-assessment, reflection, goal-setting and experience.
Chris and Matt hope to publish their findings in a professional journal. “These findings contribute to the growing body of research on EI development and will have significant implications for researchers and practitioners alike.”