Objectivity in the Role Played By University Student Leaders.

Running Head: Objectivity in the Role Played By University Student Leaders.

 

 

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Table of Contents

 
1.1 Summary
1.2 Abstract
1.3 Chapter I: Introduction
1.3.1 Statement of a Problem
1.4 Chapter II: Review of the Literature and Research Questions
1.5 Chapter III: Methodology
1.6 Conclusion
1.7 References

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1.1 Summary

Arguably, student leadership at the university is the most advantageous activity that a student can engage in outside the conventional academic activities. Even though in the leadership role at the university there are no grades awarded, the students who undertake the role of leadership acquires a lifetime experience that may not be obtained elsewhere. The role played by the university student leaders expose them to a learning environment that equips them with a lot of skills to handle different situations. As a university student leader, one is able to perfect in his or her skills of communication, planning, working as a team, and in making decisions. These leadership skills may not be acquired by a student through attending lectures and sitting for exams only.

University student leaders are capable of making a big different in their respective institutions since they are at a unique position to bring such changes. The leadership role at the university gives the students a chance to voice their views and also to think big from an influential position. The mission of any leader can only be achieved through hard work, teamwork as well as the commitment of every member of that organization. The role of university student leaders therefore, should entail effective utilization of team work, talent, and time. The university student leaders must ask themselves several questions such as what can I do to be more productive, what should be my contribution, and what must I do to attain higher level results. A follow through, at most willingness to contribute, and motivations are some of the key values that successful university leaders must hold dear. Nevertheless, to have a successful university student leadership, more efforts need to be done by the student leaders.  Often communication, harnessing group talent and also working smarter forms the basis of successful student leadership at the university.
1.2 Abstract

Over the past years, much focus was given to the behaviors of leaders and followers owing to the fact that leadership was analyze from a situational point of view. The ability of an individual to strike a balance between getting done the set objectives and also maintain a good relationship with the group is what defined effective leadership. Over time however, leadership as a phenomenon has evolved drastically. Effective leaders were expected to do something differently in light of the dynamics brought about by different state of affairs. It has been argued that taking up positions of leadership at the university level gives students enormous gains which may not be compared to mere involvement or participation in the student organizations. Owing to the levels of Involvement, University student leaders stand to acquire more skills compared to the university students who do not participate in leadership. There are also several ways in which university student leaders develop and grow as a result of their involvement in leadership. These growth and development may include interpersonal and intrapersonal development, cognitive development, communication skills, and practical competence. The role played by the university student leaders expose them to a learning environment that equips them with a lot of skills to handle different situations. As a university student leader, one is able to perfect in his or her skills of communication, planning, working as a team, and in making decisions. Even though there are numerous benefits that accrue when university students take part in leadership roles, very few university students are involves in the leadership role within their respective universities. As such most students who do not take part in leadership miss out a lot in terms of the benefits associated with leadership roles such as the cognitive and interpersonal development.
1.3 Chapter I: Introduction

Since the early 1800s, the phenomenon of leadership has been acknowledged widely. Nonetheless, over the decades, there has been far-reaching changes particularly on the process through which an individual becomes a leader. In his work, Northouse, (2001) is of the view that during the past decades, there was a perception that only certain individuals could become leaders. These individuals were believed to have particular traits or characteristics. As such, leaders were distinguished from their followers through these traits. In a study conducted to look at the traits that leaders are often associated with, Lucas and McMahon (1998), found that leadership was influenced by individual social characteristics, certain physical traits, personality, social backgrounds, task-related characteristics, individual ability, and intelligence. The critics of this characteristic theory are of the opinion that even though leaders may exhibit the aforementioned traits, it is easier said than done to define as well as measures such traits. In addition, critics of this theory argue that such traits may not be the best factors to define a leader since at a given point in time there may be a change in leadership (Pascarella and Terenzini, 2005). Cooper, Healy, and Simpson (1994) insist on the point that even though a particular individual may lead perfectly well in a given state of affairs, such an individual despite having certain traits may not be as effective in his or her leadership when faced with different circumstances.

Over the past years, much focus was given to the behaviors of leaders and followers owing to the fact that leadership was analyze from a situational point of view. According to Huang & Chang (2004), Task orientation and group effectiveness were the basis of behavior determination. The ability of an individual to strike a balance between getting done the set objectives and also maintain a good relationship with the group is what defined effective leadership. Over time however, leadership as a phenomenon has evolved drastically. Effective leaders were expected to do something differently in light of the dynamics brought about by different state of affairs. Depending of the state of affairs, particular traits were necessary.

Bolman & Deal, (2003) are of the opinion that unlike past perception of leadership being a reserve of the few, through education and experience anyone is capable of learning how to become an effective and good leader. Such education and experience may be obtained from student organizations at different institutions of higher learning such as universities, where student leaders get an opportunity to gain knowledge and put into practice leadership skills that they have learnt (Swatez, 1995). In his analysis, Holzweiss (2004), espouses that university student leaders stand to gain from their involvement and participation in the leadership role. Such benefits include educational as well as unrelenting satisfaction.  There are also several ways in which university student leaders develop and grow as a result of their involvement in leadership. These growth and development may include interpersonal and intrapersonal development, cognitive development, communication skills, and practical competence (Shertzer & Schuh, 2004).

It has been argued that taking up positions of leadership at the university level gives students enormous gains which may not be compared to mere involvement or participation in the student organizations (Baxter-Magolda, 1992). Owing to the levels of Involvement University students leaders stand to acquire more skills compared to the university students who do not participate in leadership. According to Beeny, (2003) the role played by university student leaders in their respective organization gives them a better opportunity than non-leaders to gain advanced levels of skills.
1.3.1 Statement of a Problem

Even though there are numerous benefits that accrue when university students take part in leadership roles, very few university students are involves in the leadership role within their respective universities. As such most students who do not take part in leadership miss out a lot in terms of the benefits associated with leadership roles such as the cognitive and interpersonal development (Northouse, 2001). It has been argued that when university student undertake leadership roles, they acquire certain beneficial traits such as extraversion, self-efficacy as well as self confidence. In addition, the role of university student leaders provides role model and peer influence to the fellow students, this form the basis of appreciating the importance of undertaking student leadership role at the university (Shertzer & Schuh, 2004). It follows that professionals can design a training program which can enhance the capabilities of the student leaders and non-leaders through assessing the relationship between influences and traits that emanate from various positions of leadership that university student undertake.
1.4 Chapter II: Review of the Literature

This chapter is aimed at providing a review of literature materials on the objectivity of the role played by university student leaders. To begin with, this chapter will examine the concept of leadership and its historical development. In addition, the chapter will discuss various benefits that are associated with leadership roles such as self confidence, peer influence, role model support and influence, extraversion, and self-efficacy.

Leadership has often been described as an antique skill. The art of leadership as Chemers, (1994) describes it can be found in Egyptian, Greek, and Chinese history as well as in Caesar and Plato classics. Though leadership seems to have begun centuries ago, there seem to be consensus among authors that the term leadership came to being around 1800s (Komives, Lucas, and McMahon, 1998). Even though over decades the process of becoming a leader has undergone drastic changes, leadership as a concept has been in existence for a long time.

The objective of higher education or university education for this purpose, and its philosophical conception call attention to the role of such institution of higher learning in society democratization, by giving individuals a chance of becoming what they are capable of becoming, through a process of education(Roberts & Ullom, 1990). According to Astin, (1993a) the objectivity of the role played by university student leaders is founded on the fact that student leaders are able to develop skills as citizen agents and also use their leadership positions for the common good of all students.

Some individuals have questioned the importance of university students having extra experience outside of the lecture room and beyond sitting for their exams. Nevertheless, Littleton, (2002 is of the view that there are a number of proven benefits that have been cited as being associated with university students taking part in extracurricular activities such as leadership roles in their respective institutions.

According to Beeny (2003), student involvement entails the psychological as well as the physical amount of energy that a particular student invest in various activities to achieve a given objective. Study shows that university students who take part in leadership roles gain in vocational preparation and personal development, social adjustment, improve their communication skills, improve cognitive skills, matriculate, increase their self confidence and the regard themselves to learn more (Littleton, 2002).

In a research conducted on university student leaders, the students who participated in their institutional leadership role were found to be more knowledgeable than the non-leaders in terms of career planning, educational involvement, cultural participation, lifestyle planning, developing purpose, academic autonomy, and life management (Pascarella and Terenzini, 2005).  The learning outcomes that are however very common among university student leaders include: communication skills, cognitive development, and intrapersonal as well as interpersonal skills.

Huang & Chang (2004), suggest that the concept of intrapersonal skills involves cultivation of individual autonomy, self-concept, and self-awareness. While interpersonal skills on the other hand, involves the relations between individuals. This concept therefore, involves appreciating the differences among people as well as group dynamics. It has been argued that interpersonal competence acquired by university student leaders emanate from institutional culture, peer interactions, as well as their leadership responsibilities (Holzweiss, 2004). Participation in extracurricular activities such as leadership role by the university students has a positive influence on the social self concept of the student leaders.

Often a time, the concept of cognitive development is associated with classroom learning. Nevertheless, study shows that cognitive development can be achieved through organizational involvement, peer relationships, employment, as well as living arrangements (Holzweiss, 2004). It is worth noting that the objectivity of role played by university student leaders is achieved through organizational involvement of the student leaders. This involvement has a strong impact on the knowledge they gain through the different roles student leaders play in the organizations they head.  Transitional knowers continue to be influenced by the positions of leadership that are held by university student leaders. According to Huang and Chang (2004), cognitive development among university student leaders include ability to learn new things, problem-solving skills, the level of involvement in both co-curricular as well as academic activities, how to relates with other  students  and analytical skills. High cognitive skill development has over the years been registered among university students who actively participate in co-curricular as well as academic activities.

As leaders, the role of university student leaders entails interacting with others. It is therefore, pertinent for every student leader to learn how to communicate effectively for purposes of achieving their goals and objective as organizational leaders. According to Beeny (2003), the most important communication skills among the students leaders, are those related to listening skills. Most student leaders particularly in institutions of higher learning stand a better chance of learning communication skills since these skills are unavoidable aspect of the role they play within student organizations.

The role played by university student leaders present an opportunity  through which student leaders are able to learn from their own experience as well as from their peers (Felsheim, 2001). The main aim of university education and indeed other institutions of higher learning involve developing their students as strong citizen leaders. To achieve this objective, these institutions should incorporate in their systems leadership programs as well as development activities. This is because the role of student leadership unlike other affairs undertaken by students, involves multidisciplinary aspects which affect the students as a whole. It follows therefore, that the experienced attained by university student leaders in their responsibility can be of great importance in their future careers.

In his book entitles What Matters in College Astin (1993b), is of the view that during the undergraduate level of university students, the peer group that a particular student get involved with has great impact on the development and growth of that student. Astin (1993), further states that  the aspirations values, and beliefs of students during their university years, are more likely than not to change towards the bearing of the prevailing aspirations values, and beliefs among other students. As such, university students make their decisions or develop their behaviors on the basis of the beliefs, and values held by their peers, a concept referred to as progressive conformity (Astin, 1993b). The term peer group may be defined as any group of people with which the members see approval from each other, affiliate with, see acceptance, and identify with (Ouellette 1998). It is therefore, common among peers to identify themselves with those individuals who posses values and beliefs that are comparable. Students who are involves in extracurricular activities are more likely to bracket together with other members who are involved in such activities that are analogous.

The relationship between leadership and peer group is that spending time with peer group involved in leadership has an important role in the development of leadership skills among university student leaders. the role played by university student leaders is capable of influencing other students to participate in the organization activities and also to support the systems as well as sustain them (Romano,1996). During difficult situations, university student leaders are more likely to seek help or guidance from leaders of other organizations in the university. The peer group therefore, serves as role model as well as support systems. Often, peers recognize and reward each other as a show of support. The recognition and rewards given to students by their peers play an important role in influencing university student to take leadership responsibilities in their respective institutions.

In the words of Pascarella and Terenzini (2005), the role played by university student leaders have a positive influence in relation to ego and identity development, values and sociopolitical attitudes , social self-concepts and academic, attainment, intellectual orientation, general maturity and personal development,  persistence, moral development, and educational aspirations. The growth and development of leadership abilities have been linked to peers interactions. Peer interaction also has a positive impact on overall academic development, public speaking skills, Critical thinking skills, Interpersonal skills, problem-solving as well as analytical skills. Through the role played by university student leaders they are able to gain knowledge outside the lecture rooms and in their interactions, they are able to gain thinking skills, understanding the arts, and writing skills. In all, the students are able to improve their overall academic skills as well as improve their knowledge acquisition skills during their years as students and in their careers (Astin, 1993). The roles and responsibilities undertaken by university student leaders further allows them to gain practical competence, interpersonal competence, and humanitarianism competence all of which,  may be associated with peers influence.

In order for any leader to be successful, Kirkpatrick and Locke (1991), argues that such an individuals must have particular characteristics which include: self-confidence, must possess drive, honesty and integrity, a desire to lead, knowledge of the activity they are getting involved with in order to succeed, and cognitive ability. The role of self confidence cannot however be overemphasized as it cultivate trust among the people a person is leading and also gives them confidence.  Individuals with self confidence are capable of taking important decision with a lot of ease compared to those who do not have self confidence (Hughes et al 2012). It goes without saying that people are more likely to believe in leaders who seem to have self confidence. As such others will have confidence in such a leader and they will be convinced by his decisions.

According to the definition advanced by Northouse (2001), the phrase self confidence denotes the ability of an individual to be certain about his or her skills as well as competencies. Other aspects associated with self confidence include self-awareness and a sense of self-esteem. Leadership at the university level gives the student leaders an opportunity to gain self confidence. In a study conducted by Ouellette’s (1998), university students who participated in organizational readership roles were able to attain self confidence and also motivated them to take an active role in other events. Because of the confidence that university students gain in exercise of their roles, other students gain confidence in their leadership. The student leaders in turn feel more liable to fulfill their duties and responsibilities as they should. It has been stated that developing self confidence allows student leaders to delegate responsibilities, help an organization in attaining its objectives and goals, organize oneself, and to deal with people (Bass, 1990). The role of university student leaders cultivate confidence and these enables such students to undertake the decision making process with a lot of ease as well as allow them to work effectively with other students (Kirkpatrick & Locke, 1991).

Leadership roles undertaken by university student cultivate perceived self efficacy among the university student leaders. Bandura, (1997) defines the phrase perceived self efficacy as a belief in an individual competencies to effectively systematize and implement plans that are necessary for the attainment of a particular goal or objective. Further, perceived self efficacy may be explained as the belief of an individual capability to take control over different activities that have an effect on them and also control over their role.

Research Questions

RQ1:  How has self-efficacy, self-confidence, peer influence, influenced the role played by      university student leaders?

RQ2:  What are the benefits associated with taking up leadership roles by students at the         university level?
1.5 Chapter III: Methodology

 

This study was designed to assess the objectivity of the role played by university student leaders. The literature review has highlighted the various benefits that emanate from student leadership in institutions of higher learning. Such benefits include: improved self-efficacy, self confidence, positive peer influence, support and role model influence, and extraversion.

Participants

The research participants will consist of seniors, juniors, and sophomores attending a large, public institution of higher learning located in the Southeastern part of US. The student leaders who will take part in this study must have held responsibilities of leadership for not less than four months. For purposes of this study therefore, the term leadership position will be described as an individual who hold a leadership position in a given institution and that person must have influence on his followers.  The population for this research was selected using a couple of criteria. These criteria include: such students must be taking part in the leadership of their institution, and they must all be seniors, juniors, or sophomores.

The Directory of clubs and organization was consulted in an effort to identify student organizations. The identified student organizations before being included in the study had to meet certain criteria. Such requirements included: the organizations must have given out email address to their member students; there must be undergraduate students in such organizations.

In the literature review, there were three traits that were discussed throughout the research. These traits include: self-efficacy, self confidence, as well as peer influence. As such this study was basically founded on those three variables. The data was collected via the email. Participants received email messages to confirm their participation in the study.

In the data analysis, the scale score for self-efficacy, self-confidence, and peer influence were used as independent valuables. The following questions were asked in the data analysis:

RQ1:  How has self-efficacy, self-confidence, peer influence, influenced the role played           by university student leaders?

RQ2:  What are the benefits associated with taking up leadership roles by students at the             university level?
1.6 Conclusion

University student leaders stand to benefit in many ways from their roles as leaders. Study shows that university students who take part in leadership roles gain in vocational preparation and personal development, social adjustment, improve their communication skills, improve cognitive skills, matriculate, increase their self confidence and the regard themselves to learn more (Littleton, 2002). The study further assesses the traits as well as influences that impact university student leaders and their roles. These influences and characteristics include: self confidence, peer influence, role model support and influence, extraversion, and self-efficacy. Leadership at the university level gives the student leaders an opportunity to gain self confidence.

In a study conducted by Ouellette’s (1998), university students who participated in organizational readership roles were able to attain self confidence and also motivated them to take an active role in other events. The students who participated in their institutional leadership role were found to be more knowledgeable than the non-leaders in terms of career planning, educational involvement, cultural participation, lifestyle planning, developing purpose, academic autonomy, and life management. It has been argued that interpersonal competence acquired by university student leaders emanate from institutional culture, peer interactions, as well as their leadership responsibilities (Holzweiss, 2004). Participation in extracurricular activities such as leadership role by the university students has a positive influence on the social self concept of the student leaders. University student leaders also stand to gain cognitive development in their role as organization leaders. According to Huang and Chang (2004), cognitive development among university student leaders include ability to learn new things, problem-solving skills, the level of involvement in both co-curricular as well as academic activities, how to relates with other  students  and analytical skills.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1.7 References

Astin, A. W. (1993a). An empirical typology of college students. Journal of College           Student Development, 34(1), 36-46.

Astin. A. (1993b). What matters in college: Four critical years revisited. San Francisco:    Jossey Bass Publishers.

Bandura, A. (1994). Self-efficacy. In. V.S. Ramachaudran (Ed.), Encyclopedia of human

            behavior, (pp. 71-81). New York: Academic Press.

Bass, B. M. (1990). Bass and Stogdill’s handbook of leadership (3rd ed.). New York,         NY: The Free Press.

Beeny, C. (2003). Perceptions of learning in the co-curriculum: A study of expectations    and involvement. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, University of Georgia.

Cooper, D et al (1994). Student development through involvement: Specific changes     over time. Journal of College Student Development, 35(2), 98-102.

Felshiem, M. J. (2001). Pathways to success: How university students become student    leaders. Unpublished doctoral dissertation. University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Holzweiss, K. (2004). Leadership survey: March 2004. (Texas A&M Student Life   Studies).Retrieved on October 12, 2005 from         http://studentlifestudies.tamu.edu/8.asp

Huang, Y., and Change, S. (2004). Academic and cocurricular involvement: Their           relationship and the best combinations for student growth. Journal of College             Student Development, 45(4), 391-406.

Hughes, R et al. (2012). Leadership: Enhancing the Lessons of Experience (7th ed.).       Boston: McGraw-Hill Irwin

Littleton, R. A. (2002). Campus involvement among African American students at small,

Predominately white colleges. College Student Affairs Journal, 21(2), 53-67.

Ouellette, M. (1998). Characteristics, experiences, and behavior of university student       leaders. Unpublished dissertation, University of Alberta, Canada.

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