Doctoral Dissertations

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Educational Psychology and Research

Major Professor

Ralph G. Brockett

Committee Members

John M. Peters, Mary F. Ziegler, David H. Folz


The purpose of this exploratory study was to describe the learning projects related to the governmental role of a selected sample of elected municipal officials in a geographic region of a Southeastern state. The study includes the revision of Tough’s (1975) learning projects interview schedule and the addition of eight demographic items.

Participants were selected by using a random number generator to choose 12 cities from seven population groups, creating a stratified sample of 68 elected officials, 41 of whom agreed to be interviewed. Demographic information revealed that the participants were a mix of mayors (26.8%), vice-mayors (19.5%), and city councilmembers (53.7%). More than half (56.1%) served in cities with city managers or chief administrative officers and 29.3% were in their first two years of service. Nearly three-fourths (73.2%) were men; 87.8% were age 50 or older; and, 61% held a bachelor’s degree or higher.

Data analysis revealed that the participants conducted a mean of 6.68 learning projects during the previous year. The predominant primary planners of the 274 learning projects were the learners (32.1%), peer groups (20.1%), and groups with a professional (19.3%). Participants in city manager cities spent significantly fewer hours (M = 62.18, SD = 87.03) per learning project than participants in cities without a city manager (M = 90.00, SD = 135.02), t (246.93) = 2.05, p = .042, d = 0.25, 95% CI [1.04, 54.60]. An ANOVA showed that the effect of elected office on the mean number of hours spent conducting each learning project was significant at the p < .05 level, [F(2, 271) = 9.17, p < 0.001]. Post hoc comparisons using the Tukey HSD test indicated three significant pairwise comparisons. First, mayors devoted significantly (p < .001) more hours (M = 119.74, SD = 152.89) per learning project than did vice-mayors (M = 36.77, SD = 43.57). Mayors spent significantly (p = .029) more hours (M = 119.74, SD = 152.89) per learning project than did councilmembers (M = 76.59, SD = 113.21). Finally, councilmembers spent significantly (p = .043) more hours per learning project than did vice-mayors.

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