Students' Cognitive Learning And Leadership Development Via Virtual Collaboration In Online Leadership Education Coursework

Concurrent Session 5
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Brief Abstract

Virtual student collaboration can promote cognitive learning and leadership development. From data collected via collaborative work in an online leadership course, this study found connections between students’ familiarity with distance learning and cognitive learning growth, as well as changes in cognitive learning given course exposure over time.


Larisa A. Olesova, Ph.D., is Senior Instructional Designer and Adjunct Faculty at George Mason University. Her research focuses on distance education, specifically asynchronous online learning environments.

Extended Abstract

Cognitive learning, in face-to-face and digital leadership courses, is a critical educational task necessary for students’ leadership growth. As more teaching transitions online, leadership educators must bolster cognitive learning in digital spaces. One instructional strategy, virtual student collaboration, can promote cognitive learning and leadership development. Using data collected from collaborative work in an online Ethics and Leadership course, this study examined (a) what, if any, changes occurred in students’ perceptions of the effectiveness of digital collaboration in relation to leadership development, and (b) the relationship between cognitive learning and student demographics. Findings revealed that students with online course experience showed higher levels of cognitive skill. Additionally, students’ cognitive skills, knowledge, and perceptions of leadership development increased as the semester unfolded.