Date of Award



© 2020 Paul J. McKenney

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)



First Advisor

Marylin Newell

Second Advisor

Corey Berg

Third Advisor

John E. Powell


The strategic leadership center of a senior military service college collaborated with an elite law school to provide leadership development to senior law school students. The focus was an International Strategic Crisis Negotiation Exercise set in the South China Sea. Due to an unexpected global health pandemic the course was forced online to a virtual environment. The strategic leadership center gathered data from volunteer students and their mentors to determine the impact of the virtual setting. Using four archival datasets, a program evaluation was conducted using a case study methodology to determine the effectiveness of experiential learning through simulation in a virtual environment and to gain an in-depth understanding of its impact on the development of the leadership soft skills of teamwork, communication, and negotiation techniques for senior law school students from the perspective of students and their mentors. The research study found that experiential learning through simulation in a virtual environment was highly effective and transformative. The interpretation of the ten findings is enlightening and contributes to a more complete understanding of experimental learning. The significance of the study is its contribution to leadership education, legal education, and education policies.


Ed.D. Dissertation