Student-Athletes' Self-Efficacy Regarding Leadership Potential: A Phenomenological Inquiry Into The Perceived Effects of Leadership Simulations
Cook, Christopher Allen
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The purpose of this phenomenological study was to investigate the influence of experiential learning (i.e., leadership simulations) on student-athletes’ self-efficacy regarding their potential as future leaders. More specifically, the researcher sought to understand the “lived experiences" of NCAA Division I student-athletes in a models of leadership course. The following primary research question provided the focus for the study: To what extent, if at all, do leadership simulations and teaching about leadership models enhance student-athletes’ perceived self-efficacy regarding their potential for future leadership? The study focused on 12 NCAA Division I student-athletes at a land-grant university in the Northwest who were enrolled in a sixteen-week leadership models course that incorporated experiential leadership simulations. Data were gathered through semi-structured, open-ended, in-depth interviews with the student-athletes. Interview questions focused on how student-athletes make meaning of their simulation experiences in a models of leadership course and how those experiences influence their perceived potential as future leaders.The analysis of interview data revealed enhanced self-efficacy in three areas: (1) Expanding Awareness of Self, Others, and Contexts for Leadership; (2) Finding a Voice; and (3) Increasing Knowledge and Skills. More specifically, four dimensions of Expanding Awareness were noted: understanding strengths and weaknesses, increased self-confidence, clarification of core values, and leaders and leadership redefined. Three dimensions of Finding a Voice were noted: speaking with authority, maintaining power, and confidence in personal leadership style. Lastly, two dimensions of Increasing Knowledge and Skills were noted: improved techniques and strategies and greater understanding of leadership models.The results of this study can be used to improve leadership development pedagogy and opportunities for emerging student-athlete leaders in academia as well as in the community. Results also provide a framework for colleges and universities that aspire to create and deliver leadership development programs. Understanding how student-athletes experience leadership development programming can contribute to the design of educational programs that enhance the learning and growth of all students in higher education, regardless of their participation in athletics.
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