Perceptions of leadership among high school students: Simulation versus face-to-face environments

Date of Completion

January 2005


Education, Educational Psychology|Education, Social Sciences|Education, Technology of




Most everyone can think of a leader, whether in the political, entertainment, or other realm, and the general public seems to know a great deal about the lives of these leaders. Feelings and actions for leaders are often intense: people love and loathe, praise and blame, live and die for, and follow and abandon their leaders. Despite such intensity of feelings for and depth of knowledge about leaders, Burns (1978) indicates that there exists a severe lack of knowledge about leadership. This study examined perceptions of leadership in a problem-based learning environment. Set in the GlobalEd Project, an international negotiations simulation, students played the role of a country and, within that country, were assigned an issue area, such as human rights. As students collaborated within their classroom setting and across classrooms through synchronous and asynchronous communication, leaders emerged within and across countries. This study examined the perceptions of leadership traits across mediums in face-to-face (F2F) and computer-mediated communication (CMC) environments, across time over the course of a five week simulation, and across gender groupings of all male, all female, or mixed-gender groups. Results indicated that leadership attributes did not vary across contexts, but the intensity by which they were assessed varied across contexts. Leadership attributes were significantly different over time and differed significantly according to the gender group in which the students participated. ^