Informing Leadership Education by Connecting Curricular Experiences and Leadership Outcomes

Linking specific learning experiences to leadership development has the potential to enhance leadership education. In this study, we sought to link student growth in 13 leadership areas to specific learning experiences within a leadership development program. We measured development within the 13 areas by comparing the perceived needs of students before and after engagement in the program. Evidence of connections between leadership development and specific learning experiences emerged as program facilitators documented the leadership areas addressed within the learning experiences utilized in this program. Evidence indicated students experienced the strongest growth in understanding leadership, commitment to serving, enhancing communication, ethical behavior, and valuing diversity. These areas of growth were linked to specific learning experiences, including program seminars, book readings, working with a mentor, and participation in a community organization. While this research is only an initial step in definitively linking specific learning experiences with leadership development, the results provide leadership educators with important considerations to enhance their practice. Additionally, this research provides a viable method for linking learning experiences and leadership skill development that, if replicated, could support the continued, positive impact of leadership education.