Phelps defends dissertation

Doctoral candidate Kirstin Phelps successfully defended her dissertation, "Collective Leadership for Community Action: A Case-Based Inquiry into Supporting Digital Literacy Initiatives," on August 14.

Her committee included Associate Professor Kate McDowell; Associate Professor and PhD Program Director Jana Diesner; Professor Michael Twidale; and David Rosch, associate professor of agricultural leadership.

From the abstract: This study examines the organizing and leadership processes around one community's responses to support digital literacy initiatives. It explores the applicability of a collective leadership framework for understanding leadership within the community, focusing on four behaviorally based roles identified as supporting group process in complex environments. It also examines the structures, systems, and processes that support or hinder such work and the associated information behaviors of individuals enacting leadership roles. A sequential mixed methods design was created for this study, comprised of a multi-phases data collection process structured to solicit data from across the community. Forty-one semi-structured interviews were conducted with individuals across five community sectors, followed by a social network survey (n=78) asking about relationships for information, general leadership, and collective leadership roles around digital literacy. Implications for research concern future work exploring leadership and community initiatives, with methodological contributions from the study of relevance for research around community-based phenomena. Implications for practice revolve around the support of community capacity building efforts, particularly around community leadership development and community learning. 

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