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Youth perceptions and practices of leadership: The influence of structured leadership development programmes in a community context

There has been much research focused on adult conceptions and experiences of leadership and its impact on both individuals and organisations. What has not been investigated as fully, is youth leadership and the contexts within which young people’s leadership experiences and emerging understandings are developed. Most opportunities for youth leadership are centred within educational contexts with traditional and hierarchical structures that limit access for all but an elite minority. This thesis presents findings from a research project involving a school-community partnership. It examines perceptions of leadership by youth participating in a 12 week experiential community leadership development programme, and the how involvement within this context influenced the leadership perceptions of nine participants involved in the study. Youth voice was integral as participants actively reflected on ideas of leadership through youth-centric research methodologies. Findings indicated that the youth who participated in this study perceived leadership as relational and transformational actions experienced on a personal level by someone they have an on-going relationship with; they felt there is inadequate acknowledgement of extra-curricular youth leadership experience and perceived inequity in access to leadership development opportunities for youth within school contexts; they desired experiential leadership development opportunities that were authentic, challenging and inclusive; and that participating in an experiential youth leadership development programme in a community context provided positive benefits for all participants. This research is of significance to those working with youth in experiential leadership contexts, youth themselves, and those with an interest in leadership and youth development from a practitioner, or research perspective. Through representing a positive exemplar of a school-community partnership that broadens the context within which positive leadership development opportunities take place, it provides particular challenges to schools regarding the way that they perceive, acknowledge and grow leadership in youth. It will help to inform practitioners regarding effective practice when working with youth, and crucially, gives youth a voice as to the influence contextual experience has on their developing understandings.
Type of thesis
Hawthorne, R. (2014). Youth perceptions and practices of leadership: The influence of structured leadership development programmes in a community context (Thesis, Master of Educational Leadership (MEdLeadership)). University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10289/8703
University of Waikato
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