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Title:Contributions of student organization experiences on leader capacity development
Author(s):Smist, Jennifer Anne
Director of Research:Delaney, Jennifer A
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Delaney, Jennifer A
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Collins, Jasmine D.; Hoag, Beth A.; Rosch, David M.; Trent, William T
Department / Program:Educ Policy, Orgzn & Leadrshp
Discipline:Ed Organization and Leadership
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):student leadership development
campus involvement
student organizations
leader behaviors
institutional characteristics
Abstract:As higher education institutions aim to prepare graduates for successful employment and active citizenship, the co-curricular college environment remains a crucial conduit through which students develop their capacity for successful leadership. Student organizations serve as one avenue of co-curricular involvement that positively contribute to developing students’ leader capacity. Existing research related to student organization involvement often focuses on general connections to leadership development. Few studies explore specific nuances of student experiences and environmental influences on students’ leadership learning and practice. Leader capacity represents the knowledge, skills, and behaviors associated with effective leadership, and can be understood through the three constructs of leader self-efficacy, motivation to lead, and leadership skill (Keating, Rosch, & Burgoon, 2014). This dissertation presents three papers related to the collective purpose of describing the contributions of student organization experiences on leader capacity among college students. Each paper uses a distinct lens to understand influences on leader capacity – the individual, the organization, and the institution. The first paper explores the contributions of individual behaviors to leader capacity. Using data collected from 1,198 participants in the LeaderShape Institute before the Institute and three months after, this study investigated the extent to which engagement in passive and active leader behaviors contributed to students’ leader capacity growth. A principle component analysis confirmed the distinction between passive and active behaviors to refine eight leader behaviors. Controlling for participants’ gender, race, class year, and campus involvement, ordinary least squares (OLS) regressions produced models indicating that female, Latinx, sophomore, and senior students reported significant gains in leader capacity. Among the leader behaviors, active leader behaviors were associated with less change in students’ leader capacity over the three months after the Institute. When exploring differences in each behavior based on students’ gender and race, few differences emerged. These findings suggest that a multitude of other factors beyond leader behaviors contribute to students’ leader capacity development. The second paper examines the relationship between the environmental context of distinct types of student organizations and students’ leader self-efficacy. This study used data collected among eight Big Ten institutions as part of the 2018 Multi-Institutional Study of Leadership (MSL). Among the 5,328 participants, 90% indicated involvement in at least one of 11 different types of student organizations. An ordinary least squares (OLS) regression model explaining 32% of the variance in leader self-efficacy controlled for students’ gender, race, class year, international student status, and academic major to explore differences in leader self-efficacy based on the type of organization in which they indicated involvement. Students involved in six of the eleven types of organizations reported greater leader self-efficacy than students not involved in that type of organization. These results imply that peer interactions and an organization’s environment positively contribute to students’ leader confidence. The third paper investigates the extent to which the institutional context of the campus environment contributes to variance in leader capacity. This study included data collected from 3,347 students before their participation in the LeaderShape Institute. This cross-section of data focused on the differences across institutions regardless of students’ leader capacity growth after the Institute. Several ordinary least squares (OLS) regressions explored the relationship between eight institutional factors and leader capacity and extent of campus involvement while controlling for gender, race, and campus involvement. Only institutional selectivity and academic support expenses were associated with increased leader capacity. Religious affiliation was a negative predictor, and institutional selectivity was a positive predictor of participation in student organizations. Carnegie classification and academic support expenses emerged as negative predictors for holding leadership positions in organizations. Each model explained a small percent of the variance in the dependent variables, implying that other factors beyond the scope of this study are more reliable predictors of leader capacity and campus involvement.
Issue Date:2020-04-27
Rights Information:Copyright 2020 Jennifer Anne Smist
Date Available in IDEALS:2020-08-26
Date Deposited:2020-05

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