This explorative study offers much needed perspective on students' role and development as instructional leaders (Halverson & Clifford, 2013) through answering the following questions: (a) How can students be involved in distributions of instructional leadership in a studio learning environment; (b) What is the value of their contribution; and (c) What patterns of distributed instructional leadership (DIL) facilitate student involvement? I chose an animation studio at a large western university for the setting, on account of its collective-leadership structure involving students. I randomly sampled a pre-recorded data set of participants' studio interactions and participant interviews to use for the study; participants involved students, faculty, and industry mentors involved in studio productions during qualitative data collection of studio interactions.My method of data analysis involved pairing the DIL framework with additional approaches, per analysis focus: An ethnographic approach (Merriam, 2002) for a birds-eye overview of the setting influencing studio interactions, Interaction analysis (Jordan & Henderson, 1995) for in-depth exploration of studio interactions, and Spradley's (1980) recommendations for qualitative analysis ensuring trustworthiness of codes and themes.The study's findings answered each of the three exploratory questions, revealing that students voluntarily took ownership for their learning, and engaged in an instructional leadership capacity over support for their needs and interests. They were valuable in negotiating mutually beneficial compromises as contributed to member capacity and organizational development in academia and industry. Studio leadership and policies facilitated students' interdependent development as instructional leaders through providing guided autonomy in their supportive and formal roles in the studio. More specifically, the studio's deliberate focus on students' development of leadership virtues shaped students' experience and approach toward interpersonal and technical problem solving as contributed to studio production and overall development.Pairing the DIL framework with additional methods per analysis focus was a useful approach in exploring in exploring the study questions. Future research should replicate the study in different contexts to add perspective to the questions asked. It should also assess the verity of patterns DIL that this study delineates as contributing to individual and organizational capacity, and school development.



College and Department

David O. McKay School of Education; Instructional Psychology and Technology



Date Submitted


Document Type





distributed instructional leadership, capacity building, student leadership, studio environment, learning ownership, leadership virtues