Perceptions of leadership: a study of rural high school youths' view of leadership



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Texas Tech University


An array of leadership programs and curricula characterize th4e concept of leadership through a variety of definitions. This study is an attempt to describe leadership from the viewpoint of rural high school students. Current curricula available for youth leadership development are based on leadership models that mirror skills and behaviors addressed in literature aimed at an adult audience. Students' definitions may reflect an adolescent stage of development and reveal a rural sense of place. This qualitative study looks at twelve high school students from three varied rural and small schools in west Texas who participated in the Rural Youth Leadership Academy (RYLA) throughout one school year. This case, one instance of leadership exploration and development, was a yearlong endeavor within leadership seminars, but is treated as one occurrence. Data was collected as an observer-as-participant. Student data from applications, journals, activities, and interviews are analyzed along with the curriculum presented to students during RYLA and this researcher's thoughts before, during, and after the experience.

Insights were gained into how rural youth perceive leadership and the ways in which their rural sense of place may impact their perceptions. Implications for those who design leadership curricula are explored through the findings.