The publications associated with the Illinois Leader Lab are organized into four overlapping topical areas:

1) Are educational interventions effective?

2) What is the state of leadership development in students and emerging adults?

3) Measurement issues in leadership education

4) Reports and commentary on leadership education


Are educational interventions effective?


Lessons that last: LeaderShape-related gains in student leadership capacity over time

Journal of Leadership Education, 15(1), 44-59
David M. Rosch, Clinton M. Stephens, & Jasmine D. Collins (2016)

The LeaderShape Institute is a popular immersion-based leadership program that is hosted on dozens of university campuses and conducted nationally each year. As part of a comprehensive research effort, a sample of 1,279 students at 21 participating institutions completed a pre-test prior to participating, as well as a post-test immediately after and a followup test three to four months later. Tests included measures of leadership skills, leadership-oriented self-efficacy, motivation to lead, and motivation to advocate for social issues. Results suggest students make gains in skill, confidence, and motivation to advocate for social issues, but that not all gains emerged similarly across social identity groups. Several differences emerged when comparing gains measured from pre-test to post-test and gains that included follow-up tests. This study provides support for the effectiveness of the LeaderShape Institute, and possesses several implications for the methods used in assessing the development of leadership capacity.

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Effects of Classroom-based Team Experiences on Undergraduate Student Leadership Development: When Practice Does Not Make Perfect

Journal of Leadership Education, 14(3), 104-118
David M. Rosch (2015)

Engineering students (N = 285) enrolled in either a first-year or senior-year design course that consisted entirely of team-based collaborative learning projects reported few gains in their overall leadership development. Peer evaluations of skill were lower than were self-reported scores, and, for first-year students, self-reported scores and peer scores were not correlated. A high degree of co-curricular involvement in student organizations, as compared to little or no involvement, was associated with student gains in seniors. These results indicate the relatively small degree of leadership learning that takes place in classroom-based team experiences when those experiences are not paired with opportunities for deliberate practice or reflection in the development of leadership capacity.

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Examining the Relationship between Role Models and Leadership Growth during the Transition to Adulthood

Journal of Adolescent Research, 31(1), 96-118
Jill R. Bowers, David M. Rosch, and Daniel A. Collier (2016)

This qualitative study examined a group (n=23) of college students with moderate to significant leadership experience to explore the processes of how their identification of and relationship with role models were influential in their perceived leadership development.  Our analysis led to the development of a role-model driven framework that differentiates between “relational” role models (i.e. those who students know personally) and “positional” role models (i.e. those who serve as exemplars due to their place in society, often from afar).  The model implies that relational role models are crucial for youth in beginning their leadership development, while positional role models only emerge as significant later in their development, but are significant for continued growth.

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Developmental Readiness for Leadership:  The Differential Effects of Leadership Courses on Creating “Ready, Willing, and Able” Leaders

Journal of Leadership Education, 13(3), 1-16
Kari Keating, David M. Rosch, and Lisa Burgoon (2014)

Within this article, we introduce the idea that effective leadership behavior can only manifest from students who possess leadership skills, confidence, and motivation – conceptualized as a “Ready, Willing, and Able” leader – and examine the degree to which students (n=165) at various levels of each may be affected differently by participating in an introductory leadership course. Our results suggest that students lacking confidence and motivation make little gain in skill, implying that a foundation of “leadership readiness” may be necessary before students can begin to hone their skills.

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The Effects of Leadership Position and Longevity on Perceived Leadership Competence

Student Affairs Journal:  A Student Research Journal at Colorado State University, 23, 89-96
Dana R. Glink, Kathryn E. DiGiulio, Joseph G. Gasienica, Alex J. Romine, and David M. Rosch (2014)

This paper was the result of work done by a group of undergraduate students volunteering in the lab during the 2012-2013 academic year.  They examined the degree to which students’ seniority and longevity within active student clubs and organizations are associated with peer-evaluated assessments of their leadership capacity.  The results of the study showed that neither were significant predictors, but interestingly, a strong gender effect emerged – both men and women rated women as more competent in their leadership skills than they rated men.  These findings lend more evidence to an increasing gap in leadership between young men and women, and imply that positionality and seniority may be less relevant to peer evaluations than may be originally thought.

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Learning Leadership Abroad:  An Overview of a Short-Term Leadership-Focused Study Abroad Program in Italy

Journal of Leadership Education, 12(2), 148-154
David Rosch and Paige Haber-Curran (2013)

Here, we describe and anayze a leadership-oriented, nine day study abroad program held over the summer. The program, centered in Rome, Italy, combined classroom curricula with field experiences in and around the city. Initial quantitative and qualitative assessments suggested that the program provided both leadership and personal development for the students who participated.

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The Durable Effects of Short-Term Programs on Student Leadership Development

Journal of Leadership Education, 11(1), 28-48
David Rosch and Arran Caza (2012)

In this article, we examined the long-term (i.e. several months later) affects of student participation in short-term leadership programs. This cross-sequential study included 612 students over three years who completed measures of their leadership skill before, immediately after, or several months after participating in day-long leadership programs.  Our results indicate that some leadership competencies (discrete skills like conflict management) can be enhanced through short-term programs while other competencies (universal skills like dealing with change) may require longer duration efforts.  Post-hoc analysis already revealed that students’ post-program responses across diverse skill sets are more correlated than prior to participation, suggesting that even if students make little concrete gains in skills, their overall leadership competency may be more integrated into a comprehensive set of behaviors.

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Recent Alumni Perceptions of Hall Government Leadership Learning

Journal of College and University Student Housing, 37(2), 54-71
David M. Rosch and Joshua D. Lawrie (2011)

This qualitative study was conducted to examine what undergraduate students learn by participating in and holding a leadership role in residence hall governments.  We interviewed recent alumni (n=6) to determine their perspectives of what they learned as a member of residence hall student governments after they have entered a professional work environment. Themes of their responses included the significant degree of learning that occurred in the areas of administrative responsibilities, dealing with interpersonal differences, problem solving, and the development and maturing of personal values. A common theme emerging in their responses was the need for administrators of these organizations to provide challenging experiences and competent professional advising. 

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What is the state of leadership development in students and emerging adults?


Building Leaders: A National Examination of the Leadership Capacities Within Engineering Undergraduate Students

International Journal of Engineering Education, 31(4), 986-997.
Clinton M. Stephens & David M. Rosch (2015)

Using data from the Multi-Institutional Study of Leadership, this study examined a national representative sample of students (N=90,444) encompassing 101 higher education institutions. The results suggest that engineering students are less involved in group experiences in high school, but do not differ from comparable peers in self-reported leadership capacity coming to college. The involvement gap continues throughout their higher education. While their self-reported leadership capacity remains similar to comparable non-engineering students, the results suggest their ability to interact on diverse teams remains depressed. This study has significant implications for the processes engineering educators utilize to support their students in building working relationships and successful teams.

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An Exploration of Student’s Motivation to Lead:  An Analysis by Race, Gender, and Student Leadership Behaviors

Journal of College Student Development, 56(3), 286-291.
David M. Rosch, Daniel A. Collier, and Sara E. Thompson (2015)

Within this article, we introduce the concept of motivation to lead as a worthy topic of consideration within the area of college student leadership development.  We examined differences in levels of affective-identity and social-normative motivation across race and gender identities in a random university-wide sample of students’ (n=1,338), and measured the degree to which motivation to lead could be used to predict their involvement in leadership activities on campus.   No differences emerged in motivation levels between men and women.  Asian-American students reported slightly lower motivation to lead compared to other racial identities.  While leadership self-efficacy served as the most powerful predictor of leadership involvement, both motivational constructs emerged as significant predictors, even more powerful than students’ scores on a measure of their leadership skill.

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Student’s Self-Identified Long-Term Leadership Development Goals:  An Analysis by Gender and Race

Journal of Leadership Education, 13(3), 16-33
David M. Rosch, Barry L. Boyd, and Kristina M. Duran (2014)

Using a mixed-methods design, we conducted a document analysis of the leadership developmental goal statements of 92 undergraduate students who were enrolled in a multi-year self-directed leadership certificate program over the course of two academic years.  We were specifically interested in investigating the patterns of similarities and differences across gender and race, and we utilized a theoretical framework where we coded leadership goals as primarily development of students’ leadership-oriented traits and personality, skills and competencies, or measurable behaviors. Our results suggested that women were more interested in developing leadership-oriented traits than men, while men were more interested in developing their skills. No significant difference emerged across racial groups.

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An Exploratory Examination of Students’ Pre-Existing Beliefs About Leadership

Studies in Higher Education, 39(9), 1586-1598

Arran Caza and David M. Rosch (2014)

Here, our research utilized a series of exploratory factor analyses to explore students’ fundamental beliefs about leadership within on a random sample of students who reported no prior experience in leadership (n=1,465). This is significant, as effective training initiatives should take into consideration what students first believe about what they are being trained in. Four factors emerged from this study – students believe that leaders: 1) Serve their community; 2) Are open-minded; 3) Honor their values; and 4) Are comfortable with change. These beliefs can be used to both help in targeted marketing to inexperienced and emerging student leaders, and as a bridge to formal curriculum within introductory programs of leadership development.

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Predicting Student Leadership in Agricultural Professional Preparation Organizations

North American Colleges and Teachers of Agriculture (NACTA) Journal, 58(1), 7-10
David M. Rosch (2014)

This study examined a group (n=112) of college students and the role of their motivation to lead in predicting the decision to become leaders of professional development organizations on campus within the field of agriculture.  Our results showed that students’ social-normative motivation to lead significantly predicted to the decision to run for positions of leadership, implying the strong degree to which peer influence and the environment of support for leadership development is for students within these organizations.

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Incoming Leadership-Oriented Differences Between Students in a Leadership Studies Course and a Team-based Project Course

Journal of Leadership Education, 12(2), 103-121
David Rosch and Daniel Collier (2013)

Many leadership courses and co-curricular programs are elective in nature, and therefore understanding students’ incoming leadership competencies in various contexts are important.  We examined the pre-existing differences in students’ leadership skill, motivation, and self-efficacy between a group of students (n=50) who elected to take a formal leadership course setting and another group (n=116) who elected to register for one more focused on practical teamwork skills.  Our results suggest what is intuitive to many educators: those students interested in formal leadership opportunities self-report a higher degree of leadership competency.  We also examined  the degree to which motivation and confidence could be used to predicted self-reported skill across both settings, and discovered that for students not as interested in formal leadership development, both motivation and confidence were strong predictors of skill, while for interested students, only confidence predicted skill.  This implies that for students not interested in formal leadership development opportunities, their motivation to lead is a significant factor in choosing to act as a behavior.

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A National Profile of Leadership Capacities and Involvement in College Compared to Non-Agricultural Peers

Journal of Agricultural Education, 54(1), 83-96
David M. Rosch and Natalie Coers (2013)

We utilized a national representative sample of 461 students within agriculture-related majors across 55 universities and compared them to a similarly-sized random peer group from within the same institutions. This date was analyzed to compare the agricultural student sample to their peers with respect to a variety of social identities (including race, gender, and political leanings), high school and college involvement and leadership positions held within co-curricular activities and organizations, and scores from several measures of leadership-related outcomes. The findings of our research suggest that agricultural students display similar levels of involvement and leadership in high school and higher levels in college, but they do not make similar leadership outcome gains compared to their peers.  Said another way, they are just as or more involved than their peers, but report lower levels of leadership capacity. These findings hold important implications for the way agricultural educators structure classroom environments and how they advise student organizations.

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The Overlap Between Emotional Intelligence and Post-Industrial Leadership Capacity:  A Construct Validity Analysis

Journal of Leadership Education, 10(1), 83-102
David M. Rosch, Dana L. Joseph, and Daniel A. Newman (2011)

We examined the psychometric relationship between two concepts that are often covered in introductory leadership courses: emotional intelligence and socially-responsible leadership skills. A sample (n=276) of students enrolled in leadership development courses completed quantitative measures of both concepts.  Results of confirmatory factor analyses confirmed that there is measurable overlap in the ways students make sense of emotional intelligence and socially responsible leadership behaviors, but that they represent distinctly separate concepts. Our findings imply that the inclusion of emotional intelligence curriculum is a worthy consideration within a leadership development class, and could help students as a bridge to further leadership development.

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Measurement issues in leadership education


Self-vs-Teammate Assessment of Leadership Competence:  The Effects of Gender and Motivation

Journal of Leadership Education, 13(2), 96-124
David M. Rosch, Daniel A. Collier, and Sarah M. Zehr (2014)

Sampling a classroom of 81 undergraduate freshmen participating in an academic course consisting only of group projects, we studied differences between students’ and their peers assessment of those students’ leadership skill, motivation to lead, and leadership self-efficacy. Our results indicated that peers often scored students lower than the students scored themselves. Additionally, males deflated the transactional leadership scores of the female peers that they assessed. The strongest individual predictor of a peer’s assigned scores was a student’s affective-identity motivation to lead, implying that students’ self-concept as a leader has the most powerful impact on peer assessment of leadership skill, over above self-reported skill level or confidence in leading. Self-confidence, interestingly, failed to show significance in predicting teammate scores.

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Analyzing the Effectiveness of Multi-Source Feedback as a Leadership Development Tool for College Students

Journal of Leadership Studies, 6(3), 33-45
David M. Rosch, James C. Anderson, and Shannon N. Jordan (2013)

Peer evaluation is a common tool for helping emerging leaders develop their skills.  Using a skill-based model of leadership, the Social Change Model (SCM) of Leadership Development, we had a group of 144 undergraduate students at a handful of institutions complete a self-report SCM measure, and had each student ask up to five colleagues to complete a peer-report version as well.  Results showed that observers ranked students significantly higher than students ranked themselves, suggesting that allowing students to choose their evaluations may not be a productive teaching tool.  More significantly, an exploratory factor analysis of observer scores showed that observers were not able to discriminate their responses across leadership skills sets, suggesting they made no distinction among separate leadership capacities (such as communication skills and possessing a strong will, for example).  These results indicate that peer reports may not be helpful as a teaching tool for students as previously thought.

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Potential Issues and Pitfalls in Outcomes Assessment in Leadership Education

Journal of Leadership Education, 8(1), 177-194
David M. Rosch and Leslie M. Schwartz (2009)

In this review article, we highlight some of the most common errors made in the typical assessment practices of leadership development programs in higher education. To help describe and organize these errors, we labeled them as the Honeymoon, Horizon, Hollywood, Halo, and Hallmark effects. We suggest educators focus on issue clarity (i.e. being explicit and descriptive in what is being measured) in assessment, utilize a combination of self-report and multi-rater surveys, and to the extent possible, collect data at diverse time periods within their programs.

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Reports and Commentary


A Report on the LeaderShape Institute: Developmental Gains in Leadership Capacity

David M. Rosch, Clinton M. Stephens, and Jasmine D. Collins (2015)

This report represents a summary of the initial findings from the national research effort investigating the longitudinal effects of student participation within the LeaderShape Institute.

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Addressing the State of Formalized Program Review in Leadership Education

Journal of Leadership Studies, 6(3), 67-72
Matthew Sowcik, Jill L. Lindsey, and David M. Rosch (2013)

This commentary article reviewed the results of a task force assigned by the International Leadership Association to examine the feasibility of creating a system of accreditation for degree-granting leadership studies programs, of which the authors were a part.  While an international survey of academic leadership educators showed a minority (31%) would support a formalized accreditation program, a clear majority (65%) would support increased efforts of external review within their programs.  These results are aligned with increasing pressure to increase the rigor and relevance of academic programs specifically focus on leadership studies and development.

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Developmental Readiness:  The Relationship Between Leadership Motivation, Efficacy, and Behavior

Concepts and Connections:  A Publication for Leadership Educators, 19(3), 8-10
David Rosch (2013)

This commentary article suggests that leadership educators and those who research the pathways of leadership development for youth should focus more holistically on leadership self-concept rather than simply on skill-building.  In the article, we review emerging research that students with low levels of leadership confidence and/or motivation are relatively unaffected by the developmental opportunities in which they participate – it is only their peers with a more well-defined self-concept as a leader that make the most of their time in courses and programs.  Therefore, educators should focus more on “readiness” – ensuring that students are ready to learn to lead, before assuming that skill-building interventions will be effective.

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What Do We Mean When We Talk About “Leadership”?

About Campus, 15(5), 17-20
David M. Rosch and Michelle L. Kusel (2010)

In this commentary article, we argue for the need for more consensus around the concept of “leadership.” The current lack of consensus leads to confusion in the language and goals of leadership education, and makes it more difficult to evaluate the effectiveness of leadership education programs.

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