Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Educational Leadership and Policy Studies

First Advisor

Barbara L. Licklider


This qualitative study explored perceptions of graduate students who experienced their learning as life-changing in a two-course leadership development series. Using a phenomenological methodology, participants were former students who declared in an unprompted manner to the faculty leader, either during engagement in the series or after completing the course, that their learning was life-changing. These transformed individuals were also asked at the time they were solicited to participate whether they upheld the experience as life-changing. Only those individuals who continued to view the two-course series as transformational were interviewed for this study because the purpose was twofold: (1) to learn how students perceived and explained an experience in the two-course leadership development series as transformational; and (2) to identify and describe specific components of the classes that were perceived to contribute to making the learning experience life-changing. In other words, how did students define "life-changing" and what aspects of the class did they explain as being most significant to achieving this transformation?

Qualitative data were collected, coded, and analyzed according to a phenomenological methodology to generate findings that could be presented in an organized format. The findings are followed by discussion that extrapolates on findings and situates them within relevant literature. The findings of the study have implications for various constituencies including stakeholders of this particular two-course leadership development series (administrators, facilitators, current students, and future students) and any individual or organization that is striving to provide meaningful learning experiences--particularly in the area of leadership development. Recommendations for future research and program stakeholders are also provided.


Copyright Owner

Scott N. Paja



File Format


File Size

196 pages