Degree Name

EdD (Doctor of Education)


Educational Leadership

Date of Award

December 1998


This study investigated the impact of cocurricular activities on leadership development. College graduates recognized as community leaders were selected from three communities in Georgia, Kentucky, and Tennessee. Through survey and interview techniques, the leaders were asked to reflect on high school and college experiences that led to their development as leaders. The study included a focus on differences in experiences of male and female leaders. Developmental influences such as family, mentors, global experience, and the cocurricular activities engaged in during high school and college were explored. Title IX had no impact on increased opportunities for women in this group of participants, as only two female participants were in college in 1972. Results of the study include the importance of mentors, the strength of high school teachers and cocurricular activities, and the weak influence of college cocurricular activities. High school activities most frequently reported to have influenced leadership development include student government, group music experiences, athletics, and church youth groups. College activities with the most impact include resident hall living and internships. Gender differences in experiences include women's lack of identified community mentors and the importance of a college internship experience for women. Opportunities for men's participation in sports in high school and college as well as their descriptions of community mentors provided different learning experiences for men. Recommendations include a call to higher education to develop a more comprehensive and integrated approach to leadership education. Teaching mentoring skills to future K-12 education professionals as well as college faculty and administrators is recommended to higher education. Student Affairs preparation programs have a role to play in training future professionals how to plan meaningful leadership learning opportunities for students on campus and through distance education. Applying the best practices in experiential education will move college cocurricular activities to a higher level in achieving student learning outcomes. Accreditation bodies are also called to include such criteria in the evaluation of leadership education programs. The community leaders in this study offered leadership development advice to college students including becoming lifelong experiential learners, giving back to community, and preparing broadly for the future.

Document Type

Dissertation - unrestricted