Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ded)


Professional Studies in Education

First Advisor

Patricia Smeaton, Ed.D.

Second Advisor

Jennifer Rotigel, Ed.D.

Third Advisor

Faith Waters, Ed.D.


The purpose of this study was to identify out-of-classroom leadership experiences which undergraduate student leaders attribute to their own leadership development and to then examine the relationship between those experiences and the practice of five leadership behaviors measured in the Student Leadership Practices Inventory (Student LPI) (Kouzes & Posner, 2006). The behavioral practices measured in the Student LPI are grouped into five themes: (a) challenging the process; (b) inspiring a shared vision; (c) enabling others to act; (d) modeling the way; and, (e) encouraging the heart (Kouzes & Posner, 1987). The following research questions guided the study: 1. To what out-of-classroom student leadership experiences do students attribute the development of their leadership behaviors? 2a. Is there an association between certain out-of-classroom student leader experiences and the leadership behaviors measured in the Student LPI? 2b. What is the strength of any associations that exist? 3. Is there a difference between the experiences of less effective leaders and more effective leaders? To answer the study's research questions, the researcher applied a sequential mixed-method approach which utilized focus groups and descriptive questionnaires to gather data. Two phases, the second dependent on data from the first, allowed the researcher to explore the possibility that certain out-of-classroom leadership experiences are characteristic of effective leadership behavior in a sample of 141 undergraduate student leaders at a four-year, private college in the Northeastern United States. Based on the study's findings, student affairs practitioners now have an empirically-based list of experiences which correlate with the five behavioral practices measured in the Student LPI. The researcher found positive and highly significant (p &l; .003) correlations in 13 of 15 associations between the experiences and the behaviors examined. Two experience types that contributed to the practice of all five leadership behaviors were (a) those who are leaders who mobilized their membership to coordinate projects or to attend events, and (b) those who involved dialogue between the leader and their membership, such as running meetings or including the members in decision making. Furthermore, this study shows that experience frequency can differentiate between more effective and less effective leaders in four of the behaviors measured.