Higher Education Students
The purpose of this study was to examine the impact of prior student
leadership experiences, gender, and perceived institutional support on student leaders’
The population consisted of 532 undergraduate student leaders at
Indiana University, of whom 100 women and 88 men participated (35% response rate).
Respondents completed a modified version of the Student Leadership Practices
Inventory that focused on how well individuals felt they could perform the leadership
behavior rather than their actual frequency of engaging in the behavior (see, Endless,
2000). Data was also collected about their prior leadership experiences and perceived
The findings suggested that student leaders generally have high selfefficacy
for leadership practices, with most confidence in their ability to motivate others
via Encouraging, followed by Modeling, Enabling, Inspiring and Challenging. Men and
women did not significantly differ in their self-efficacy for leadership on Challenging,
Inspiring, Enabling, or Encouraging; while for Modeling, the scores of women were
significantly higher than those of men.
Women tended to feel more supported by their advisor than men and were more
likely to feel that their advisor encourages leadership development. The more an
individual agrees that his or her advisor encourages leadership development, the more
capable that individual feels he or she can Inspire, Enable and Model. The more likely
an individual wants to repeat his or her leadership experience the more this individual
feels he or she can Inspire, Model, and Encourage, and the same relationship was found
for those satisfied with their leadership experience.
Organizational type also influence leadership self-efficacy. Those in activist
organizations tended to have higher leadership self-efficacy in Challenging, Inspiring,
and Modeling. Cultural organization participants were most confident in Encourage in
comparison with other organizational types. Those in professional organizational tended to have higher scores in Enabling and Encouraging. Individuals involved in
programming and support organizations demonstrated more confidence in Enabling,
while members of service-related organizations demonstrated higher levels of leadership
self-efficacy in Inspiring, Enabling, and Modeling. “The different levels of self-efficacy
among organizational types may be a result of characteristics of the organizational type
that coincide with particular leadership practices” (pp. 42-43).