Contemporary college student activism efforts are growing. Little research has been conducted on student activism and leadership development. As student affairs educators consider leadership an important part of an undergraduate education it is important to consider how the context of activism actually influences student leader identity development. The purpose of this study is to investigate the impact of contemporary student activism on college student leader identity development so that Christian Higher Education student affairs professionals can provide purposeful educational experiences that assist the understanding of a leader identity in student activists.
Data were collected using qualitative phenomenological methods, specifically semi-structured in-depth interviews. Seventeen junior and senior college students who are exemplar activists from a small, selective, residential, engagement-rich, Christian liberal arts college in the Midwest participated. The interview sessions were analyzed and compared in an effort to identify categories and themes that summarize activists' leadership identity development.
Resulting analysis revealed four primary findings. First, activists in this study collectively define leadership as a relational environment imbued with clearly defined values and purposes whereby all members have the opportunity to engage, explore, and empower as followers and leaders together. Four significant elements that make up what a relational environment of leadership means to them includes: selflessness, collaboration, responsibility, and visionary.
Second, activists desire to have a strong identity of being a relational, humble and yet confident leader and desire to be more like the person of Jesus Christ; however, they are still discovering their unique qualities and abilities as a leader.
Third, involvement in an activist context has considerable positive effects on college student leader identity development: 1) the impact of a relational environment deepens self-confidence, 2) the unique site to integrate, ground and make meaning out of personal values develops authenticity, 3) encountering hands-on learning shapes behaviors, and 4) the independence of relying on one's own beliefs and feelings helps determine self-authorship.
Fourth, activists' experiences are consistent with Komives et al. (2006) LID model and did appear to help students' progress through the model.
|Commitee:||Klink, Edward Mickey, Leyda, Richard|
|Department:||Talbot School of Theology|
|School Location:||United States -- California|
|Source:||DAI-A 74/07(E), Dissertation Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||Educational leadership, Higher education|
|Keywords:||College student development, Identity development, Leader identity, Social change, Student activism|
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