Air University assistant professors win ILA award for research on positive student feedback

  • Published
  • By Phil Berube
  • Air University Public Affairs

Two Air University assistant professors received high honors for their research paper examining why students continually give remarkably positive feedback for one of the university’s courses.

Dr. John Hinck and Dr. Steven Davis won the International Leadership Association’s 2020 SAGE Most Publishable Leadership Education Paper award for their study on the impact the Leader Development Course for Squadron Command is having on students.

Hinck and Davis are assistant professors of leadership for the LDC, a course offered by the Ira C. Eaker Center for Leadership Development.

Titled Re-Operationalizing and Measuring Impact of a Leader Development Course, their paper seeks to understand why the LDC continuously receives exceptionally high reviews by taking an empirical approach to studying the impact of LDC on students. Their research finds that the depth of impact rests in a deliberately constructed ecosystem of student interaction with the LDC team, each other and course content. This system of relationships is depicted in a new model called the “Student Experience Ecosystem,” which can serve as a framework to enhance the student experience in other courses across Air University and the Air Force.

Air University first offered the 8-day Leader Development Course for Squadron Command in 2018. The course aims to improve leader development to sharpen and focus human domain leadership skills to achieve mission success through high-performing teams.

“I am both proud and humbled to represent the Eaker Center and Air University in this prestigious international forum. I’m thankful for the support and empowerment we were given to pursue this research into LDC and to turn the results into something we can export to make Air University and our Air Force better,” said Davis.

Before coming to Air University in 2018, Davis was a lecturer of international studies at Texas A&M University, where he received his PhD in History in 2017.

“I am humbled, thankful and thrilled to co-receive the award,” said Hinck. “The recognition symbolizes the collaborative team effort that LDC is known for, the awesome support of colleagues at the Leadership Institute and Eaker Center to do meaningful research, and that Air University is a great place for scholars to teach, publish and make a difference that matters in our greater leadership community.”

An Army veteran, Hinck received his PhD in Leadership Studies from the University of San Diego in 2018 before joining the Air University faculty.

“This caliber of work is their hallmark. There’s no one more dedicated to leadership development than Dr. Davis and Dr. Hinck,” said Lt. Col. Justin Longmire, LDC course director. “During their time at Air University, they have studied and published on leadership effectiveness, introduced coaching as a new leadership competency and established new leadership programs across the University. Last year, they both won annual awards as outstanding faculty and recognized as some of the best researchers and leaders at Air University. They’re making a real impact on the leadership education landscape of the Department of the Air Force, and I’m elated to see them win this award.”

ILA, created in 1999, is a worldwide community of professionals committed to leadership scholarship, development and practice. SAGE Publishing, founded in 1965, is a global publisher of academic journals and books.