Mentoring Relationships & Leadership Capacity: New Dissertation Using MSL Data

An Examination of Mentoring Relationships and Leadership Capacity in Resident Assistants 

Dr. Sherry Early, faculty member in Higher Education and Student Affairs at Ohio University, successfully defended her dissertation on the relationship between mentoring relationships and the development of leadership capacity in resident assistants. The MSL research team is tremendously proud of Dr. Early for contributing important findings to our growing body of leadership knowledge!

ABSTRACT: The purpose of this study was to examine mentoring relationships and resident assistants’ (RA) leadership capacities. In addition, the type of mentor of the RAs, and the gender match and race match of the mentor-protege pairs was investigated. This study provides insight into the profile of resident assistants as well as findings related to mentoring outcomes on the Social Change Model constructs of socially responsible leadership, and leadership efficacy. I utilized the Multi-Institutional Study of Leadership 2009 data. A sample of 6,006 resident assistants (RAs) was analyzed using an adapted version of Astin’s (1991, 1993) Inputs-Environments-Outcomes (I-E-O) college impact model as the conceptual framework and the Social Change Model of Leadership as the theoretical framework.

Independent samples t-tests, analysis of variance, and regression were used to analyze data on leadership capacity and mentoring outcomes (personal development and leadership empowerment). Leadership capacity findings suggested a mentored RA demonstrates significantly higher leadership capacity than a non-mentored RA. The type of mentor is not a predictor of socially responsible leadership; student affairs professionals are positive predictors of leadership efficacy in comparison to other student mentors. Gender match and race match mentor-protege pairings results on leadership capacity did not yield significant results. Regression findings suggest gender match and race match mentor-protege pairs did not differ from cross-gender and cross-race mentor-protege pairs on leadership capacity.

These findings fill gaps between research and practice and provide incentives for stakeholders of collegiate environments to mentor resident assistants. More specifically, these findings provide residence life and housing administrators with evidence-based research that mentored RAs demonstrate higher leadership capacities and possess the potential to become transformational change agents in college and beyond.

To access the full dissertation, visit:

To access other dissertations and theses which utilize MSL data, click  here.

New MSL Article Published: Leadership Capacity, Efficacy of Women in STEM Fields

Developing the leadership capacity and leader efficacy of college women in science, technology, engineering, and math fields.

Recently, the Journal of Leadership Studies published John Dugan, Kimberly Fath, Shannon Howes, Kathryn Lavelle, and Joshua Polanin’s article that explores the experiences of women in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields in developing leadership capacity and leader efficacy.

Abstract: The current study examined the extent to which college women in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) majors demonstrated differential levels of leadership capacity and/or leader efficacy than their non-STEM, female peers. Data represented 14,698 women from 86 institutions of higher education in the United States. Results indicated similar levels of leadership capacity but significantly lower leader efficacy for women in STEM majors. Implications explore unique predictors of leader efficacy for women in STEM majors along with recommendations for changes to policy and professional practice that might address how the differential organizational contexts shape leadership development.

To read the full article, visit the reports and publications page here.

New MSL Publication: MSL Insight Report: Leadership Program Delivery

The Multi-Institutional Study of Leadership strives to advance socially responsible leadership development on college campuses across the world. While participation in the MSL contributes to the movement to expand our knowledge of leadership, the most critical outcomes of this work are only achieved when data are utilized to inform practice. Our research team is excited to provide a new resource that provides important points of consideration and reflection associated with the delivery of leadership education programs.


The full report is available in the Reports and Publications section of the website.  We hope this report can provide new insight into how institutions can effectively support leadership development programs on college campuses. 

New MSL Article Explores Complexity of Race

All too often, leadership educators approach race from a simplistic, static lens. In their recently published article, John Dugan, Corinne Kodama, and Matthew Gehardt call for a more complex examination of the intersection of race and leadership development. Using Collective Racial Esteem (CRE) as a framework, they explore predictors and influences of leadership development based on different racial groups and CRE subdimensions.

Abstract: The purpose of this research was to contribute to the college student leadership literature through a more complex examination of the influences of race on socially responsible leadership development. Data represented 8,510 participants from 101 colleges and universities in the United States. Results provided evidence of the additive value of including measures of collective racial esteem (CRE) above and beyond simple indicators of racial group membership. CRE examines an individual’s self-concept related to membership in a broader racial group and may be used as a correlate of racial identity in assessing the impact of race in quantitative research. Analyses also revealed different predictors of leadership development by racial group, as well as unique influences from subdimensions of CRE, demonstrating the importance of disaggregating data to provide a more complex picture of the influences of race on leadership development. Results offer implications informing educators’ abilities to better target leadership interventions to meet a diverse range of developmental needs.
This a great read for leadership educators who want to better understand the influence of race on leadership development.  You can find the article here.

New MSL Article Published!

Recently, the Journal of College Student Development published John Dugan, Michelle Kusel, & Dawn Simounet’s article that explores transgender students’ experiences in college. With sparse empirical research available on transgender students’ experiences, this research provides new insight into transgender students’ perceptions of and educational outcomes in relation to the collegiate environment.

Abstract: We explored transgender students’ perceptions, engagement, and educational outcomes across 17 dimensions of the collegiate experience. Data were collected as part of a national study and represent a total of 91 transgender-identified college students as well as matching samples of nontransgender LGB and heterosexual peers for comparative purposes. Results suggest some variation within the transgender student population (i.e., male to female, female to male, intersexed) as well as significant differences in perceptions of campus climate and educational outcomes between transgender students and their nontransgender LGB and heterosexual peers.

Check it out!

New MSL Institutional Survey National Report Released

In 2009, the Multi-Institutional Study of Leadership – Institutional Survey (MSL-IS) was administered to all participating schools.  While the MSL explores student learning outcomes in relation to a broad set of collegiate experiences, the MSL-IS examines structural and programmatic aspects that support student leadership development on college campuses.

Examining the Design and Delivery of Collegiate Student Leadership Development Programs outlines 10 major findings from the study.  Dr. Julie Owen illustrates how institutions vary on theoretical foundations, financial and human resources available, and assessment methods used in relation to leadership development initiatives.  Not only does she explain these finding and their significance for leadership development offerings, but she also provides recommended actions for each finding.

The full report is available in the Reports and Publications section of the website.  We hope this report can provide new insight into how institutions can effectively support leadership development programs on campuses throughout the nation.

2012 MSL Institutional Reports

The 2012 MSL Institutional Reports are now posted and available for all US campuses!  Congrats and an enormous thank you to all those who participated and shepherded the project at their institutions! Your investment is greatly appreciated and will help to shape not only students’ experiences on your campus, but the college student leadership as well. We look forward to working with you as you interpret results and begin to make purposeful changes to leadership education in your communities!

Multi-Institutional Study of Leadership Announces New Three-Year Research Cycle

Theory. Research. Practice. Since the Multi-Institutional Study of Leadership (MSL) was first administered during the spring of 2006, these three concepts have remained key to the success and growth of the study. Since that initial data collection, the MSL has been conducted annually in 2009, 2010, and 2011. With nearly 200 schools having participated and hundreds of thousands of respondents overall, the MSL has collected the single largest research dataset documenting student leadership development in higher education.

With this solid base, the MSL research advisory board has committed to a new strategic plan for the future of this study. This plan has been in the works over the past 12 months, and has been developed using feedback from past and current participating institutions as well as research team members, and members of the scientific community at large.

Beginning with the MSL 2012, each year will be designated as a year of “Theory,” “Research,” or “Practice.” This cycle will begin with 2012 as the fist MSL Research year. The goal of each year will be as follows:

MSL Research Years (2012/2015/2018): Research years will serve as the data collection years. Research will include data collection using the primary MSL survey instrument, but may also include other forms, such as experimental modules, new data collection methodologies, and other related inquiries. Research will always be based on a foundation of theory and collected in a manner that will allow for consistent application to practice.

MSL Practice Years (2013/2016/2019): Practice years will emphasize the practical application of the research data and analyses. This will include interpretation of the research results, at a national or local level, and transitioning those results into practice wherever possible. While no new data collections will take place in Practice Years, the MSL will support the scientific community and participating schools with assistance in turning the results into something productive for each cause.

MSL Theory Years (2014/2017/2020): Theory years are where the science hits the pavement and continues the work of the Practice year by putting what is learned back into the growing theoretical body of knowledge. While no data collection is undertaken during a Theory year, the study takes an opportunity to cycle back to the questionnaire and research design, and consider enhancements/changes that may further the cycle as a whole.

Given this strategic direction, the MSL wants to make it very clear that the MSL 2012 will be the last annual data collection. Following the MSL 2012, the next data collection will not take place until the MSL 2015.

Recent Publication – July/August 2011

Article based on MSL data now available examining leadership across US and Mexican cultures

The July/August 2011 issue of the Journal of College Student Development contains a publication by MSL PI John Dugan and collaborators Ana M. Rossetti Morosini and Michael R. Beazley on “Cultural Transferability of Socially Responsible Leadership: Findings From the United States and Mexico.” The purpose of this study was to examine similarities and differences in students’ capacities for socially responsible leadership as well as significant predictors of its development at a higher education institution in Mexico as compared with US schools.Read the article >>

STEM School Coalition Started for MSL 2012

Registration for the MSL 2012 is currently underway and includes a new coalition of schools interested in science and engineering. The STEM Coalition will allow for powerful benchmarking of learning outcomes and critical college experiences. Participating campuses will be provided direct comparisons between an individual school, the set of coalition schools, and national normative data. CLICK HERE for more details about the MSL 2012 STEM Coalition.