Agricultural Leadership, Education & Communication Department


First Advisor

L. J. McElravy

Third Advisor

Gina Matkin

Date of this Version



Headrick, J. (2019). Leadership Education and MOOCs: A Content Analysis Approach to Understanding the Pedagogy and Characteristics of Leadership Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) (Doctoral dissertation, The University of Nebraska-Lincoln).


DISSERTATION Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy, Major: Human Sciences (Leadership Studies), Under the Supervision of Professor L.J. McElravy. Lincoln, Nebraska: December, 2019

Copyright (c) 2019 J. E. Jason Headrick


The purpose of this study is to identify the pedagogical strategies used for instruction and assessment in leadership-oriented MOOCs and gain a more refined understanding of the current state of MOOCs in leadership education. The study also seeks to fill the gaps in the body of knowledge surrounding leadership MOOCs. Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) are a form of distance education course used across content areas. They have been celebrated as revolutionizing the way learners access education and the way colleges and universities could expand the notion of education on a global scale beyond their traditional campuses. The use of MOOCs in leadership education attracts students for the purposes of education and professional development. This content analysis engages the current state of leadership MOOCs through a review of the literature, a description of the methodology, and presents the results and discussion that emerge. This study examines 96 leadership MOOCs across the MOOC platforms of Coursera, EdX, FutureLearn,, and Standford Online through a content analysis research framework. The study concludes with a discussion of leadership MOOC pedagogy and position as a vibrant and flexible delivery method for leadership education and professional development on a global scale.

Advisor: L. J. McElravy