Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctorate of Education, Ed.D.


College of Education



First Advisor

Chad Becker, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Dana Barbarick, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Donna Patterson Hawkins, Ph.D.


The world of online higher education is still in its infancy. This provides the opportunity for universities to create environments where online adjunct faculty acknowledges a sense of belonging and collaboration working with leaders who inspire, support, and mentor. Leaders, who truly listen, are open and honest. Support will inspire online adjunct faculty to deliver a high caliber of instruction to students. In this study, leadership styles and working in collaboration within a virtual environment were investigated using a qualitative, phenomenological study design. Adult learners in leadership capacities in online higher education described their lived experiences in working with online adjunct faculty in professional learning communities (PLCs). Results revealed that treating online adjunct faculty as professionals, having a support system, building relationships and community, a leader’s values/qualities, a leader’s professional skills/styles, collaborative climate, and challenges to collaboration are the themes present in this study. Conclusions from this study support the idea of collaboration as being instrumental to allow online adjunct faculty to be supported in an online environment led by collaborative leaders.

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