Date Available


Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation




Education Sciences

First Advisor

Dr. Beth Rous


Preparation of youth who are ready to lead in learning, citizenship, and future careers requires development of various qualities, skills, and leadership. Leadership development during adolescence predetermines youth readiness to pursue leadership opportunities and engage in personal, professional, and community-oriented activities. Although research has offered an array of models and educational practices to foster youth leadership, there is a need for incorporating youth voice into leadership conceptualization and education.

The purpose of this study was to gain an understanding of characteristics of leadership and practices of its development from a rural high school youth perspective. Secondary analysis using longitudinal qualitative data was conducted using interview, observational, and documented materials. The dataset used included youth perspectives on leadership, their motivation in and attitude toward leadership development, and their leadership behavior.

The findings from this study indicate rural youth find leadership crucial to personal, family, and community change, with a focus on the development of leadership within themselves and others. Several practices of leadership development were identified by students as most contributing to their leadership. Those included volunteering and community service, collaboration with school administration and faculty, participation in leadership development course activities, and self-reflection. Through the findings of this study a working model of youth leadership was developed. Findings confirm existing scholarship concerning the need of youth leadership development and also reveal how rural high school students define leadership and encourage its development within self, an area currently not addressed in previous research on youth leadership modeling and education.

A secondary goal of this study was to describe the process of qualitative secondary analysis. A discussion on differences between quantitative and qualitative secondary analyses is presented along with criteria for evaluation of qualitative data that can be used for secondary analysis. Resulting methodological suggestions can assist researchers in understanding and assessing the research capacity of qualitative secondary analysis.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)