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An investigation of transformational leadership in a virtual learning environment

, Capella University, United States

Capella University . Awarded


With the advancement of technology, the changing landscape of education has brought about challenging issues that necessitate a clearer understanding of the leadership role of an online instructor. In this exploratory study, it was found that business administration students (n=107) from a Southern California community college expect their online instructors to be transformational/transactional leaders and not passive/avoidant leaders. The study showed that online instructors (n=13) understand what is expected of them but not to the extent that students indicated their expectations of the instructor's transformational/transactional leadership role. No significant differences in leadership expectations were found based upon gender, generational groupings of students, or the number of online classes students had taken. Transformational leadership was strongly correlated with transactional leadership, extra effort, effectiveness, and student satisfaction. Further study is needed on the causal relationship between transformational/transactional leadership and student success. Once understood, online instructors need to learn how to provide a transformational/transactional leadership presence in their virtual classrooms.


Livingston, R.K. An investigation of transformational leadership in a virtual learning environment. Ph.D. thesis, Capella University. Retrieved January 24, 2020 from .

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