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Running head: Effectively Measuring Student Leadership Article Review

Critique of Research Article

Selena Frizzley
ECC 511: Research Methods in Education
Master of Education in Leadership

Running head: Effectively Measuring Student Leadership Article Review

The article Effectively Measuring Student Leadership by Posner (2012)

provides valuable information regarding leadership development and its importance in
educational programs for college students. Posner looked specifically at the Student
Leadership Practices Inventory (S-LPI) by Kouzes & Posner (2003). Posners study
analyzed a sample of students to distinguish between effective and ineffective leaders,
using both self-reported and observer data. He compared and reviewed the data,
analyzing differences between genders, ethnic backgrounds and institutional level in
regards to leadership practices. He also offered different areas for potential research and
additional changes and studies that could be looked at in the future.
This article is quantitative in nature, with a number of tables and charts to display
the research data and findings. Written in a scientific format, the data is clearly displayed
and easily accessible to the reader. The information presented in this article is broken into
two categories: Self and Observer. The Self data was completed by the student leader
alone. The Observer data was filled out by a person directly observing the student leader.
Using a five point Likert-scale, the student leaders or direct observers were asked to
respond to questions on how many opportunities the students felt they had a chance to act
as leaders.
Internal Reliability Analysis for the student LPI (p. 225) took each of the S-LPI
behaviours based on the five leadership practices as shown by Posner.

Model the Way

Inspire a shared Vision
Challenge the Process
Enable Others to Act
Encourage the Heart

The respondents showed similar growth in all of the five leadership practices. The
Observers scored higher than those scores from Self respondents in all of the five S-LPI
categories outlined in this table (Posner, 2012).
The next table specifically compared data of the Self verses the Observer on the
Student LPI. In this case the score from the Observer were all significantly higher on
each of the five leadership practise areas looked at. When looking at the five LPI areas,
the Observer was able to see student leadership practises more clearly than the student
Comparing and observing the differences between male and female student
leaders, was the focus of the next few tables. The data was separated into two tables,
highlighting the differences between male and female participants in the Self category
compared to what the Observer reported. The data seemed to show no significant
differences in either of the two areas between female and male, or Self compared to
Observer. The only notable difference was that males were more engaged in the Enable

Running head: Effectively Measuring Student Leadership Article Review

Others to Act category, while females ranked higher in Encourage the Heart (Posner,
2012). The tables showed identical results for the rank order of the five practices
between females and males.
The article focused next on the comparison of similar data but analyzed it based
on the ethnic backgrounds of the Respondents in comparison to Respondents from the
United States. In nearly all areas, the Respondents from the United States ranked
significantly higher than those student leaders from outside the United States. Asians
showed to be the lowest in leadership practises while Blacks and Hispanics were
generally higher than all other ethnic groups in this study (Posner, 2012).
The researchers also compared the results between college and high school
students. The rank order between the two groups was consistent and of similar ordering.
College students ranked higher in all areas of leadership practices compared to high
school students. This section of the study showed that the age and educational level of the
students has an impact on student leadership practices. What would the leadership
practices look like if studies of junior high or even elementary students took place?
The next area of focus concentrated on the opportunities for students to have
undertaken leadership roles and the impact that this has on their leadership practices. This
study showed that the more often students are given the opportunity to participate in
leadership and be leaders, the more likely they will engage in leadership practices in the
future (Posner, 2012).
In the conclusion of this study very few differences were noted between data
collected comparing leadership behavior based on, gender, ethnicity, and nationality
they were relatively minor in comparison with the many similarities.. The more that
students participated in leadership practices the more of a positive outlook the student
leaders had in future leadership roles. Their past experiences also had a positive impact
on their organization and general effectiveness as leaders (Posner, 2012). The most
significant observation noted was that the more involved students are in leadership, they
more they will be in the future. According to Posner, Leadership matters (p.232). This
quote really sums up the importance and significance of leadership to students education.
self-critical study offered many areas for future research and suggestions for categories
that still need to be looked at. For example, the differences in leadership practices based
on socioeconomic status, sexual identity and disability (Posner, 2012). Posner (2012) also
suggest separating the data from foreign countries rather than grouping many countries
together. Providing the LPI in the students native language might also impact the results.
Making the study broader to look at people from other counties, which have yet to be
analyzed? He also felt that in some areas of research, if a pre and post-test was
administered, this would help to provide a better framework and understanding of how
leadership develops over time.
Looking more closely at how
leadership develops over time would also broaden the sphere of influence in this study.
This type of information is invaluable for all people involved in leadership development,

Running head: Effectively Measuring Student Leadership Article Review

including education, business and community associations (Posner, 2012). Currently, this
study has information that would be beneficial to any college or high school, as well as to
anyone interested in student leadership and specifically student leadership practices. This
study might also be helpful to schools and organizations that are using the LPI and want
to look at other approaches to studying the data collected.
The practical application for this study clearly pertains to
student leadership opportunities. The more opportunities available to the students to
participate in earlier grades the more likely they will participate in leadership in the
future, a take away that can be brought into any school at any age level. Business
communities can also use this as a starting point for finding leaders within their
organizations. This type of practical application can be used in any school or business
This study references thirty-three different
books, articles and studies from recognized authors. Posner also references twelve of his
own works individually or with co-authors. Posners understanding of student leadership
and the development of student leaders is well-known and highlighted through his
various works. The Student Leadership Practices Inventory (S-LPI) used in this study
was created by Kouzes and Posner (2005). This inventory was used as the basis of this
scientific study. A respectable number of subjects were used and the findings of the study
were presented clearly. The charts and tables were used appropriately to present the
results and conclusions and to summarize the results in a meaningful way.
Many conclusions can be drawn from the evaluation and study of the
article by Posner, Effectively Measuring Student Leadership. Leadership is an integral
part of all schools and has a direct impact on the business community. There are
countless numbers of books being written outlining the importance and impact of student
leadership. This article, however, shows the importance of starting leadership practices at
a young age. It also demonstrates the value of students having leadership opportunities
early on and how these opportunities will only lead to more leadership roles. The
differences between gender and ethnic backgrounds showed little significant variation in
results. In most cases the LPI ranking also remained in the constant rank order.
Additional studies and information would be beneficial to take this study to the next
level, as research in regards to student leadership needs to be ongoing and continual.


Running head: Effectively Measuring Student Leadership Article Review

Kouzes, J. M., & Posner, B. Z. (2005). Student leadership practices inventory (LPI) (2nd
Edition). Hoboken, NJ, USA: Jossey-Bass. Retrieved from
Posner, B. Z. (2012). Effectively measuring student leadership. Administrative
Sciences, 2(4),221-234. doi: