Author ORCID Identifier

Document Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Health Science

First Advisor

Jewel Shepherd


Leadership development is critical for occupational therapy practitioners to be effective in their varied roles and ultimately is necessary for the sustainability of the occupational therapy profession. Occupational therapy education needs to be the starting point for developing a leadership identity. Best practices in leadership development require that experiences are contextualized and provide opportunities for active learning and reflective practices, yet there is minimal research to understand how occupational therapy educators teach this concept. This dissertation sought to first describe leadership development in occupational therapy and then describe how occupational therapy educators approach leadership education using adult learning principles. The research is grounded in the adult learning theory of andragogy, which connects best practices of leadership development to the needs of occupational therapy students in the classroom as adult learners. This dissertation research included a concept analysis and an explanatory-sequential mixed-methods study. The concept analysis emphasized the paucity of empirical evidence on leadership development. The findings from the analysis supported the development of a proposed theoretical definition. The quantitative phase of the study surveyed entry-level doctoral occupational therapy programs to describe the level of andragogical facilitation employed by educators when teaching leadership. A secondary analysis explored relationships between the educators’ characteristics and the level of andragogical facilitation. The qualitative phase of the mixed-methods study used phenomenological interviews to solicit the perspectives of occupational therapy educators on the use of andragogical principles in leadership education. Integrating the concept analysis, quantitative, and qualitative findings assisted in creating a leadership development framework grounded in the core principles of andragogy. Implications are noted for occupational therapy research, education, and practice.

Subject Categories

Education | Occupational Therapy


Andragogy, Education, Framework, Leadership, Leadership Development, Occupational Therapy

Number of Pages



University of South Dakota



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.