Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Agricultural Education and Studies

First Advisor

Michael S Retallick


Educational reform movements have increased the attention to the importance of leadership development in higher education (Astin, Kuep, & Lindholm, 2002) and provided standards for these programs (CAS, 2006). Research identified a relationship between extracurricular participation and leadership outcomes (Birkenholz & Schumacher, 1994), participation in leadership programs and leadership outcomes (Dugan, Bohle, Gebhardt, Hofert, Wilk, & Cooney, 2011), and the impact of college classes and leadership outcomes (Buschlen & Dvorak, 2011). However, little research has integrated theoretical understandings of the college student leadership phenomena to explore how the higher education environment influences leadership outcomes. A great need exists to understand better the unique nature of college student leadership development as well as how the collegiate experience contributes to that process.

The primary purpose of this study was to examine the precollegiate and collegiate experiences that result in increased leadership development. The study focused on three research objectives: 1) identify and describe experiences of undergraduate extracurricular involvement that result in increased leadership development; 2) examine the quantitative and qualitative aspects of involvement in extracurricular clubs and organizations and those relationships with leadership development and, 3) identify the extent to which precollegiate and collegiate experiences independently and collectively contribute to college students' socially responsible leadership.

Traditional-age undergraduate college students who were classified as seniors in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (N=969) were sampled to examine the undergraduate students' relationship between extracurricular involvement and leadership outcomes. Data related to classroom experiences, curricular experiences, and extracurricular experiences were collected via a web-based instrument. Leadership, as an outcome, was measured using the Socially Responsible Leadership Scale-Revised 2 (SRLS-R2).

When only analyzing precollegiate experiences, high school extracurricular activity was significant at predicting leadership. However, when college experiences were analyzed as part of the model, extra-curricular activity in college was the most significant predictor while high school extracurricular activity was no longer significant. Results indicated that participation in collegiate clubs and organizations as well as serving in a positional leadership role influenced leadership outcomes. A threshold of involvement was identified. Mean leadership scores increased as involvement increased; but, when involvement exceeded three or four clubs or organizations, leadership decreased.

Based on the findings, it is recommended that institutions of higher education and perhaps the individual colleges within those institutions should adopt a conceptual framework for developing and assessing leadership outcomes that includes curricular, classroom, and extracurricular components. Results of this study are consistent with previous research on the importance of participating in extracurricular clubs and organizations and it is recommended that institutions of higher education develop and maintain a culture in which extracurricular participation is valued as more than a social function and not seen as competing with academic work.


Copyright Owner

Elizabeth Ann Foreman



Date Available


File Format


File Size

227 pages