Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department

Adult, Career, and Higher Education

Major Professor

Donald Dellow, Ed.D.

Committee Member

Wilma Henry, Ed.D.

Committee Member

James Eison, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Deirdre Cobb-Roberts, Ph.D.


Leadership Practice Inventory, Kouzes and Posner, Race, Degree, NASPA


Student affairs professionals in higher education are expected to provide leadership in many ways on their campuses. Obtaining a more complete picture of the leadership characteristics of the profession is therefore important in informing those in the profession who provide continuing professional development programming and for those who teach in graduate student affairs programs. The purpose of this quantitative research study was to determine whether there were differences in the perceived leadership practices of student affairs professionals when analyzed by the independent variables of race, gender, level of current position, age, and highest degree earned.

The instrument used in this survey was the Leadership Practices Inventory-Self (LPI-Self) originally developed by Kouzes and Posner (1988) and updated in 2003. The LPI contains 30 statements, organized into five subscales, describing behaviors rated on a 10-point Likert-type scale. The five subscales are Model the Way, Inspire a Shared Vision, Challenge the Process, Enable Others to Act, and Encourage the Heart. The instrument measures an individual's perceived use of the different behaviors in each leadership practice.

An email was sent to 2,807 student affairs professionals in the Southern Region (Region III) of NASPA containing an invitation to participate in this study. A total of 713 surveys were completed for an overall response rate of 25.4%.

A significant statistical difference was found in the leadership practice Encourage the Heart for race. Black student affairs professionals' perceptions of their leadership practice of Encourage the Heart were statistically significantly higher than their Hispanic and White counterparts. In addition, a significant statistical difference was found for the independent variable level of current position where senior-level student affairs professionals scored statistically higher than mid- and entry-level professionals. Furthermore, for the independent variable highest degree earned, student affairs professionals with doctoral degrees scored significantly higher on all five leadership practices than student affairs professionals with masters' or bachelors' degrees. However, no significant differences were found between student affairs professionals with bachelors' or a masters' degrees.

This study supports the idea that leadership development may be enhanced through experience and graduate work which results in obtaining a doctorate. The findings also suggest that student affairs professionals in mid- and entry- positions may benefit from development and pre-service programs where the leadership practice inventory is administered and professionals are made aware of their leadership practices .