Using an exploratory multi-case study approach, we examined student perceptions of leadership through analysis of introductory discussion board forums in online undergraduate and graduate leadership courses to formulate leadership student personas. A review of related literature reveals that leadership’s broad application results in a vast array of interests and motivations related to pursuit of a leadership degree. To that end, development of student personas provides leadership program administrators and faculty with a better understanding of their needs and characteristics. In this application paper, we will share qualitative data compiled from four online leadership courses. Our preliminary findings identified data-driven personas that showcase how leadership students with varying backgrounds and aspirations envision knowing our leadership students, as well as recommending future research that can help advance the field of leadership education.
Keywords: leadership development, leadership pedagogy, online discussion, persona