Exploring Resident Assistants' Demonstration of Socially Responsible Leadership
Manz, Jonathan William
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For students who want to make a difference in college and beyond, involvement in a variety of available leadership positions while in college can lead to gains in many areas-and most importantly, the ability to work respectfully, flexibly, and effectively with an increasingly diverse population. While it is widely acknowledged that leadership qualities and skills are principally learned and developed (rather than inherently innate to the individual), scholars are less certain as to the specific variables and values that result in socially responsible leadership skills among college students. The Resident Assistant (RA) represents a pivotal student leadership role on campus-but it is not the only way for students to assume an influential and skills-building leadership role. Other student leaders (OSLs), encompassed herein under the umbrella title of "peer helpers," include peer counselors, peer educators, and tutors. College and university educators are striving to develop leaders to be effective in an increasingly diverse society through a variety of methods including co-curricular opportunities. The implementation of targeted leadership development opportunities represents another way to meet this goal. The Social Change Model (SCM) of Leadership Development, which consists of seven core value (citizenship, collaboration, common purpose, controversy with civility, consciousness of self, congruence, and commitment), was created to help educate college students by focusing on positive social change through leadership. Given the lack of research examining leadership outcomes from serving in the RA position, this quantitative investigation was designed to compare SCM values in RAs to the analogous values in OSLs to determine if there were differences between the two cohorts with respect to socially responsible leadership. In short, are outcomes associated with socially responsible leadership due to being a student leader in general, or will serving in the RA role be more advantageous in developing those skills? An additional goal was to determine to what degree elements of the Social Change Model (SCM) could predict a student leader serving as a RA or in another role as an OSL. Findings from this investigation were based on responses from the 2012 iteration of the Multi-institutional Study on Leadership (MSL). A careful analysis of the data revealed that the SCM value of "citizenship" was the only one among the seven that could predict a student leader serving as an RA over an OSL; in contrast, RAs did not score significantly higher than OSLs on any of the other remaining six values. Although there is a large body of work related to RA performance, further research is needed to understand the relationship between the performance of student leaders who serve in this role and SCM values.
- Doctoral Dissertations