Exploring alumnae long-term perceptions of an undergraduate leadership course: A case study
This qualitative intrinsic case study explored the long-term impact on women of a credit-bearing undergraduate leadership course at a large Midwestern university coordinated through a student affairs department. Qualitative research was used in the study, with data being gathered through semi-structured interviews with and essays provided by five nominated women who previously participated in the course between two and eight years earlier. Triangulation was used to validate the findings of the data collected. The data were coded and analyzed for possible themes. Through review of the interview transcripts and essays, indicators of the course's impact emerged. The study found that all the women perceived the course to be a beneficial experience, supported by five themes that emerged from the data relating to the women's long-term perception of the course impact. The first theme, Personal Understanding of Leadership, comprised the participants' general view of leadership as clarified by the course, including what constitutes effective leadership and how gender relates to leadership. The second theme, Campus Involvement, reflected how the women's course experience related to their campus involvement experiences. The third theme, Service, involved the way in which the participants' perceived the course was related to their experiences and values for service. The fourth theme, Leadership Self-Efficacy, encompassed participants' understanding of their leadership skills, behaviors, and qualities as enhanced by the Emerging Leaders course. The final theme, Understanding and Appreciation of Others, demonstrated the way in which the women learned a value of "other" as follower and enhanced their overall understanding and appreciation for diversity. The results of the study indicated that the women who took the leadership course perceived that it provided them with several benefits, even after they graduated from college. Several recommendations for leadership educators are offered, including, (1) inclusion of service learning, (2) inclusion of theory, (3) development of self-awareness, (4) encouraging understanding and appreciation of others, (5) development of leadership self-efficacy, and (6) emphasis on potential of all women to lead. The hope is that this study will spur further research and be used to enhance existing undergraduate leadership curriculum, particularly for women.
0453: Womens studies