Date Approved


Embargo Period


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)


Educational Leadership


College of Education


Jo Ann Manning, Ed.D.

Committee Member 1

James Coaxum III, Ph.D.

Committee Member 2

Mark A. Piterski, Ph.D.


Experiential Learning;Generation Z;Leadership Development;Peer Leadership;ROTC


Leadership in adolescents; Military readiness


Educational Leadership | Higher Education


Understanding the learning behaviors for young leaders from Generation Z is important for the United States Army in their development for future commissioned officers, who are primarily trained in the Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) in select private and public universities across the country. The Army expectation of leaders at every level regardless of rank are to possess and continuously develop six leadership capabilities codified in the Army Leadership Requirements Model (ALRM). The ALRM describes what an Army leader is (i.e., the attributes) and what an Army leader does (i.e., the competencies). The purpose of this study was to understand how Generation Z Army ROTC cadets describe and interpret their leadership development experience. This qualitative study used interpretive phenomenological analysis with a constructivist worldview and experiential learning theory to provide detailed examinations of lived personal experience of the ROTC cadets with a central theme of leadership development. Eight research participants were interviewed for the study while they were completing their senior Military Science Level IV year in the ROTC program. The participants gave insights into transitioning to a leader’s mindset, acquiring durable leadership attributes and competencies including leading by example, confidence, adaptability, resilience, emotional intelligence, and the impact of peer leadership on their leadership development.