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Dissertation Download Available: Developing Digital Student Leaders

Screenshot 2015-12-06 15.21.05I am thrilled to share that my dissertation is finally accessible online!!!

Despite graduating seven months ago with my doctorate, the release of my dissertation as open access took on a much longer process. Maybe it was due to the 524 pages or the 50 social media posts included. Or maybe the academic process just doesn’t match up with my patience…or my quickly evolving research agenda.

Either way – it is finally accessible online – free to download no matter your library access!

Click here –> Developing Digital Student Leaders: A Mixed Methods Study of Student Leadership, Identity and Decision Making on Social Media.

This study is the first of its kind and I hope to see much more research on the intersection of leadership and digital communication tools from others soon. Please cite using the following:

Ahlquist. J. (2015). Developing Digital Student Leaders:A Mixed Methods Study of Student Leadership, Identity and Decision Making on Social Media. Retrieved from ProQuest Dissertations and Theses. (Accession Order No. 3713711)

A few suggestions for interested readers. It is not common (unless you are my mother) to read a dissertation cover to cover, especially one of this length. I have a few reading suggestions, based upon where you are in the field.

  • Practitioners: I’d suggest you dive right into Chapter 7, where I propose implications policy, practice and theory.
  • Graduate/Doctoral students: Hold on to Chapter 2 (literature review) for lots of resources in your own projects.
  • Faculty/Researchers: Consider Chapter 3, where I explain my unique mixed methods phases. Chapters 4-6 will each present procedures and findings from each qualitative, quantitative and mixed methods analysis phase.
  • Family/Friends: Check out Chapter 1, which is basically the overview of all my chapters.

Still need the cliff notes? My abstract gives a peek into the results of this yearlong study on college student leader use of social media:

Social media tools permeate the college student experience (Junco, 2014), including for those students who hold leadership positions on campus. The purpose of this study was to document the experiences and online behaviors of 40 junior and senior student leaders on digital communication tools. The study was conducted at two institutions in the western United States. Three research questions guided the sequential exploratory mixed methods study connecting student leadership, the presentation of identity, and decision-making with social media use. The study involved a three phase mixed methods analysis of focus group interviews and 2,220 social media posts.

Five major findings surfaced, including (a) social media impact starting in K-12 (b) college student leaders’ navigation of social media (c) presentation of digital identity (d) the beginning of leadership presence and possibilities and (e) significance of social media guidance in college. These findings suggest college student educators should implement holistic digital leadership education. Initiatives should begin early, prior to student enrollment in higher education, focusing on identity expression, positive possibilities-based perspectives, with a focus on social media’s potential impact on student groups, social communities, and social change. Findings from this study can mobilize higher education professionals, student peers, and parents to become digital educators, providing tools for students to implement in their digital practices.

Social media tools permeate the college student experience (Junco, 2014), including for those students who hold leadership positions on campus. The purpose of this study was to document the experiences and online behaviors of 40 junior and senior student leaders on digital communication tools. The study was conducted at two institutions in the western United States. Three research questions guided the sequential exploratory mixed methods study connecting student leadership, the presentation of identity, and decision-making with social media use. The study involved a three phase mixed methods analysis of focus group interviews and 2,220 social media posts.

Five major findings surfaced, including (a) social media impact starting in K-12 (b) college student leaders’ navigation of social media (c) presentation of digital identity (d) the beginning of leadership presence and possibilities and (e) significance of social media guidance in college. These findings suggest college student educators should implement holistic digital leadership education. Initiatives should begin early, prior to student enrollment in higher education, focusing on identity expression, positive possibilities-based perspectives, with a focus on social media’s potential impact on student groups, social communities, and social change. Findings from this study can mobilize higher education professionals, student peers, and parents to become digital educators, providing tools for students to implement in their digital practices.

To learn more about my dissertation journey, check out the posts below:

About Josie

I’m Dr. Josie Ahlquist—a digital engagement and leadership consultant, researcher, educator, and author. I’m passionate about helping people and organizations find purposeful ways to connect, engage, and tell their unique story. I provide consulting, executive coaching, and training for campuses, companies, and organizations that want to learn how to humanize technology tools and build effective and authentic online communities.

My blog and podcast have been recognized by EdTech Magazine, Inside Higher Ed and the Chronicle of Higher Education. My book, Digital Leadership in Higher Education, was published in 2020 and was listed as a #1 new release for college and university student life. I have been growing my consultancy since 2013 and am based in Los Angeles. When I’m not helping clients lead online, you might find me training for a triathlon, spoiling my nieces and nephews, or exploring with my husband and our rescue dogs in our new RV called Lady Hawk.

I’d love to connect! Find me on Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Facebook.

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