Academic journal article College Student Journal

The Effect of Pre-College Involvement on Leadership Efficacy, Citizenship and Social Change Behaviors among College Students

Academic journal article College Student Journal

The Effect of Pre-College Involvement on Leadership Efficacy, Citizenship and Social Change Behaviors among College Students

Article excerpt

Previous research indicates that involvement in curricular and co-curricular activities are important and necessary components of student development and academic success (Astin, 1999; Komives & Johnson, 2009). Through involvement, students can lead, engage others, learn and practice new skills. Students can develop a sense of agency and responsibility to become a contributing and engaged member within their community (Eccles, Barber, Stone & Hunt, 2003). In addition, students can appreciate the importance of participating in civic engagement opportunities by assisting in community service (Youniss, McLellan, & Yates, 1997). This study is framed in a generational lens as the survey respondents were largely members of the population segment commonly referred to as the Millertnials, or those who were born between 1982 and 2003 (Howe & Strauss, 2000). The authors seek to understand the core values and/or capacities that mediate the college social change behavior of Millennials as precipitated by their pre-college involvement.


"Society needs individuals who feel obligated to make a difference and demonstrate the commitment to follow through on their intentions" (Segar, 2011, p.1). The W.K. Kellogg Foundation postulated it was education's duty to prepare tomorrow's professionals and leaders for commitment to societal improvement (Segar). Additional authors state that education plays a significant role in developing leadership capacity among young people (Astin, 1993; Astin & Astin, 2000; Morse, 1989, 2004). Leadership development, as a field and theory, has been called upon to create these desired individuals. Given the increased focus on leadership development in recent decades, leadership efficacy, is relevant and important (Shelton, 2013).

Joseph Rost highlights the concept of common purpose through leadership as "... an influence relationship among leaders and followers who intend real changes that reflect their mutual purposes" (1991). Common purpose is further championed as valuable in an article by Gardiner (1990) which expounds the need for "collective" action as a means to garner progress in communities and societies (Segar, 2011, p. 1). Citizenship is a natural fit to leadership efficacy and common purpose. Bonnet concurs that citizenship involves working with others and working with others is what links citizenship and leadership so closely (2009). With consideration to the commonality of these core values and capacity, this study examines the extent to which the relationship between pre-college involvement and college social change behavior is mediated by common purpose, leadership efficacy, and citizenship.

Common purpose and citizenship variables, were selected from the Social Change Model for Leadership Development (HERI, 2008), while the third variable, leadership efficacy is inferred from the focus of the model (Komives, 2007). Accordingly, this model is used as the theoretical framework for the study. At the time of authorship, available research did not use a theory or model to support this specific variable relationship in this way. Millennial students are currently the best situated for high school and college curricular and co-curricular opportunities, thus focusing on this generation within the model is plausible and germane.

Pre-College Involvement

Previous research has found that pre-college involvement is directly related to in-college involvement (Eccles, Barber, Stone & Hunt, 2003). According to Eccles et al., involvement in activities during youth is an important developmental context for growth (2003). In addition, participation in youth activities, has been found to decrease the likelihood to drop out of high school (Mahoney & Cairnes, 1997; McNeal, 1995), provide students a chance to learn leadership (Glanville, 1999), and increase civic engagement and involvement (Youniss, et al., 1997). A longitudinal study conducted by Sax (2004) produced results that indicate "having been a volunteer in the past [pre-college] increase one's likelihood of volunteering again in the future. …

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