An Assessment of a First-Year Leadership Program

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Virginia Tech


Leadership development programs provide many positive outcomes for college students (Cress, Astin, Zimmerman-Oster, & Burkhardt, 2001; Striffolino & Saunders, 1989; Zimmerman-Oster & Burkardt, 1999). Leadership programs aid students in their academic achievement (Striffolino & Saunders, 1989), and leadership skills (Zimmerman-Oster & Burkardt, 1999).

A specific type of leadership development programs are first-year leadership programs, or FYLPs. With similar goals as general leadership programs, FYLPs are created with the special needs and interests of first-year students in mind (Peraza, 2004). These programs encourage higher retention rates (Striffolino & Saunders, 1989), leadership skills such as teamwork and self-awareness (Outcalt, 2001), and ethical leadership (Peraza, 2004). As important as FYLPs are to the development of first-year students, though, there has not been sufficient enough research on their effectiveness in achieving their purpose.

The purpose of this study was to assess the short and long-term effects of a particular FYLP on its participants as measured by the Student Leadership Outcomes Inventory (SLOI) (Vann, 2004). Participants included both FYLP and non-FYLP students at a midsized Midwestern institution. Results showed little difference in the improvement of leadership skills between FYLP and non-FYLP participants, and little change between each class of FYLP. Results did show that students who participated in the FYLP their freshman year went on to engage in more leadership activities than students who did not complete the FYLP.



first-year students, leadership development program, assessment