Year of Award


Document Type


Degree Type

Doctor of Education (EdD)

Degree Name

Educational Leadership

Department or School/College

School of Education

Committee Chair

Roberta D. Evans

Commitee Members

John Matt, Frances O'Reilly, Patty Kero, Mickey Slimp


Community College, Distance Education, Distance Learning, Education, Leadership, MLQ-5x


University of Montana


This foundational descriptive quantitative study examined leadership styles, traits of distance education leaders (e.g. VPs, Deans, Directors and Coordinators) and distance education program characteristics as well as funding priorities at the post-secondary level. Participants were subjected to Bass and Avolio's Multifactor Leadership Questionnaire (MLQ-5X), which identified leadership characteristics as transformational, transactional or passive-avoidant as manifest by nine scales as follows: Individualized Influence Attributes, Individualized Influence Behavior, Inspirational Motivation, Intellectual Stimulation, Individualized Consideration, Contingent Reward, Active Management-by-Exception, Passive Management-by-Exception and Laissez-Faire. In addition, the questionnaire further assessed leadership outcomes scaled as Extra Effort, Effectiveness and Satisfaction.

There were 55 respondents from two-year colleges belonging to the American Association of Community Colleges. Findings indicated that these Distance Education Leaders scored markedly higher (and above the norm) in Transformational Leadership style scales than did past MLQ-5X testees from across all fields. Further, results indicated significant relationships between leadership style and such vitally important organizational characteristics as reporting line and levels of position. Additional statistical significance established positive correlates between Age and Effectiveness and a negative correlate between Age and Active Management-by-Exception. The Years Since Most Recent Degree correlated positively with Individualized Influence Behavior and negatively with Active Management-by-Exception. The Years at the Institution and in the Distance Education Field correlated positively with Satisfaction and negatively with Individualized Influence Attributes. The single most important and top ranked funding priority was Course Design Standards that Focus Upon Learning Outcomes.

Recommendations were directed at college, distance education leaders and for the purposes of future research. As online distance education in higher education matures, college and distance education leaders should work together to identify and develop future leaders with transformational leadership style to work in the field. This study showed that taking and teaching online courses will have a positive impact upon that goal as well pursuing an advanced degree. Also, the level of position in the organization and reporting line of the distance education leader made a difference in leadership style. Future research should focus upon further defining the best types of leaders for distance education and how to develop effective future leaders in the field.



© Copyright 2011 Ryan R. Schrenk