School of Education


Doctor of Education (EdD)


James Swezey


Reserve Officer Training Corps, Leadership Development Process, Leadership Experience, Character, and Mentorship


Curriculum and Instruction | Curriculum and Social Inquiry | Education | Educational Assessment, Evaluation, and Research | Educational Psychology | Other Education


The purpose of this phenomenological qualitative study was to examine leader development within the college Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) in order to understand from the participating cadets’ perspectives, the leader development experience. The study focused on the following central research question: How do participants view and interpret their collegiate Army ROTC leadership development experience? Guiding theories for this study were Vygotsky’s sociocultural theory (1978), Bandura’s social learning theory (1977) and Tajfel’s identity theory (1982). The study involved twelve college seniors involved at three distinct universities; the data related to their experience as leaders and was collected through reflective journals, interviews, and observations. Data collected was sorted into themes that illuminated the importance of leadership experience, character, and mentorship in the leader development process. Insights from the ROTC student participant perceptions provided evidence of the uniqueness of leader identity and the importance of gaining a leader psyche as components to an effective leader development program. This study helps to inform education administrators, faculty, and fellow students about the importance of leadership experience, character, and personal leader identification throughout the leader development process. On a broader scale, the study provides insightful information to leader developers in all fields about formal and informal cultural transmission aspects within leader development.