DEVELOPING STUDENTS WHO LEAD IN THEIR COMMUNITIES: A Mixed Methods Case Study of Three Municipal-Based Leadership Programs in the United States


While many studies investigate student leadership development in educational contexts or curriculum-based programs, little is known about the efficacy of leadership development programs that emerge in municipalities. This mixed methods case study explored the leadership development of participants in three nine-month youth leadership programs at a municipal-based prevention, treatment, and outreach center in the United States. Qualitative focus groups and quantitative surveys using the Student Leadership Practices Inventory (SLPI) were used to collect data at the beginning and end of the three programs along with a post-program evaluative survey. Findings from the qualitative and quantitative analyses are first presented individually and then expressed using a joint display table to visually represent the integrated results. Findings showed that the programs positively influenced participants’ perceptions, characteristics, and behaviors as youth leaders in their communities. Participants not only indicated improvements in their leadership practices according to the SLPI from pre- to post-program, but also demonstrated more complex understandings of leadership and what it means to be a leader in one’s community. These findings are useful for individuals and organizations planning student leadership development programs and should inform future research in the field.

Keywords: leadership development, youth, municipality, Student Leadership Practices Inventory