The Multi-Institutional Study of Leadership: A Treasure Trove for Residential College Assessment
Kaufman, Eric K.
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The Multi-institutional Study of Leadership (MSL) is an international research program focused on understanding the influences of higher education in shaping socially responsible leadership capacity and other related student outcomes. The MSL covers more than 400 different variables, including questions about leadership efficacy, social perspective-taking, mentoring relationships, academic college experiences, formal leadership training experience, community service involvement, etc. Schools participate in the MSL by providing a simple random sample of 4,000 undergraduate students. Participating institutions may survey additional students, add up to 10 custom questions to the survey, and add other similar features. Results provide data that can be used to inform current programs and services as well as generate new programs and services that could be offered to meet specific student needs as highlighted by the survey. During this session, we will highlight findings from the 2015 MSL national sample, the random sample of Virginia Tech students, and the data specific to Virginia Tech’s various living-learning communities, including the Honors Residential Commons (HRC). The findings are particularly encouraging for mentoring relationships and involvement in student organizations. For example, more than 50% of HRC students indicate they have often been mentored by another student, compared with about 36% of the Virginia Tech student body and 31% of the MSL national sample. Similarly, more than 78% of HRC students indicated they had a mentoring relationship with a faculty member, compared with only 64% of the Virginia Tech sample and 69% of the MSL national sample. Session participants will discuss how they can assess such variables through the MSL or other means. Participants will be able to: (1) highlight key features of the Multi-institutional Study of Leadership (MSL); (2) identify MSL variables where Virginia Tech’s living-learning communities perform well against comparison groups; and (3) discuss ideas for better documenting the successful outcomes of residential colleges.