Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Educational Leadership

First Advisor

Whitney Sherman


This mixed-method study explored how students in a doctoral educational leadership cohort at one university used the cohort structure as a learning community or as a method of social support. Survey data were collected from 45 past and present cohort students and qualitative data were collected from three focus groups of 15 participants total. The survey measured four factors: General Cohort Experience, Trust Within the Cohort, Network, and Community of Learners. Quantitatively, one cohort was found to be significantly different from the others in terms of Trust Within the Cohort; and the 60 hour cohorts were found to be more satisfied with the cohort experience than the 48 hour doctoral cohorts at the university studied. The theme of trust and support from and to fellow members both during and after the cohort had dissolved was a strong recurrent theme in this study. Cohort members felt that they developed and strengthened their skills professionally as a result of participating in the cohort; however, they first had to develop a sense of community and trust with their fellow members in order to learn from them.


© The Author

Is Part Of

VCU University Archives

Is Part Of

VCU Theses and Dissertations

Date of Submission

May 2011