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The Student Leadership Challenge® FAQ
The Student Leadership Challenge®

Who is the Student Leadership Challenge® program best suited for?
Is it possible for students to change their leadership behavior?
Is this program only for students who currently hold (or have held) formal leadership positions?
What does the Student LPI® in this program measure?
What is the Student LPI® process like?
How was the Student LPI® developed?
With respect to psychometrics, what is reliability and how does it apply to the Student LPI®?
With respect to psychometrics, what is validity and how does it apply to the Student LPI®?
Do the results of the Student LPI® really make a difference in the lives of students?
Is there evidence that using The Five Practices model in a formal leadership development program makes a difference in students’ leadership abilities?

Who is the Student Leadership Challenge® program best suited for?

The program is most appropriate in high school and college classrooms, student government, campus clubs, and organizations such as fraternities, sororities, first-year experience programs, community service and service-learning organizations, athletic teams, and youth organizations, to name a few.

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Is it possible for students to change their leadership behavior?

It most certainly is, as leadership is a skill like any other, which means that with the right feedback, tools, and instruction, students can alter their behavior and become more effective leaders.

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Is this program only for students who currently hold (or have held) formal leadership positions?

The Student Leadership Challenge® is designed for students who are already leaders as well as for those who have little to no formal leadership experience.  Any young person looking to strengthen his or her leadership skills in school or in the community will benefit by participating in The Student Leadership Challenge®.  In the program, students will use the Student LPI® development tool to learn how he or she currently uses The Five Practices framework and consider how to make more use of the model when he or she encounters challenges and opportunities.

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What does the Student LPI® in this program measure?

The Student Leadership Practices Inventory® (Student LPI®) is a comprehensive leadership development tool that is designed to help young people measure their use of exemplary leadership behaviors (or lack thereof).  It is grounded in the same extensive research as the classic Leadership Practices Inventory®, which is used in leadership training, executive development, and graduate-level programs around the world.

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What is the Student LPI® process like?

The Student LPI® is a thirty-item assessment that provides 360-degree feedback on an individual’s use of exemplary leadership behaviors. The assessment takes approximately 15-25 minutes for individuals to complete.  The standout feature in the Student LPI® is its Observer-assessments.  The tool collects confidential (and whenever possible, anonymous) 360-degree feedback from teachers, coaches, student advisors, teammates, fellow club members, co-workers, or others who have direct experience in observing the individual student in any leadership role or capacity.

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How was the Student LPI® developed?

The Student LPI® was developed through a triangulation of qualitative and quantitative research methods and studies. In-depth interviews and written case studies from personal-best leadership experiences generated the conceptual framework, The Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership®: Model the Way, Inspire a Shared Vision, Challenge the Process, Enable Others to Act, and Encourage the Heart.

The actions that make up these practices were translated into behavioral statements.  Following several iterative psychometric processes, the assessments were created and administered across a variety of organizations, disciplines, and demographic backgrounds.  Due to its strong research-based foundation, the Student LPI® is considered of the leading leadership development instruments for use with students. The normative database is updated annually to ensure that the inventory remains reliable and valid.

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With respect to psychometrics, what is reliability and how does it apply to the Student LPI®?

Reliability refers to the extent to which a psychometric instrument contains measurement errors that cause scores to differ for reasons unrelated to the individual respondent.  Reliability is determined empirically in several ways.

Internal Reliability

One way to determine reliability is to split the responses in half and test whether the two halves are correlated (associated) with one another. If the instruments were completed by the same person at the same time, we would expect responses to be reasonably consistent between the two halves.  If they were perfectly independent (e.g., half is an apple and the other half an orange), we would expect zero correlation (although in the example, there might be some correlation given that both items are fruits rather than, say, a fruit and a vegetable).  Should the halves be perfectly correlated (e.g., two halves of the same apple) we would expect a 1.0 correlation coefficient. “Acceptable” scores are usually .50 or greater, and the Student LPI® scales are generally above .75. As such, the Student LPI® has strong internal reliability.

Test-Retest Reliability

Another empirical measure of reliability is whether the instrument is overly sensitive to extraneous factors that might affect respondents’ scores.  For example, might the time of day, weather, individual personality, political or social events, internal organizational activity levels, or something else affect a respondent’s scores from one administration of the instrument to another administration?

Over periods as short as one or two days or as long as three to four weeks, scores on the Student LPI® show significant test-retest reliability (or consistency) at levels greater than a .91 correlation.  However, we would expect Student LPI® scores to reflect a positive change when respondents have participated in The Student Leadership Challenge® program and are consciously working to change their leadership behavior.

Number of Items

Reliability is enhanced with a scale instrument when respondents are asked about an assessed behavior more than once. As such, a two-item scale is inherently more reliable than a one-item scale. Since the Student LPI® scales are made up of six items each, it demonstrates a strong level of reliability in this category as well.

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With respect to psychometrics, what is validity and how does it apply to the Student LPI®?

Validity is the determination of whether the instrument truly assesses what is purports to measure and also addresses the issue of, “So what? What difference does it make how an individual scores on this instrument?” Like reliability, validity is determined in several ways.

Face Validity

The most common assessment of validity is face validity.  On the bases of subjective evaluation, does the instrument appear to be measuring what we think it is measuring?  Given that the statements on the Student LPI® are quite clearly related to the statements that are part of its associated items (e.g., Personal-Best Leadership Activity, Characteristics of an Admired Leader (CAL) survey, etc.), the Student LPI® has excellent face validity. In other words, when considering the make-up of the Student LPI®, the instrument makes sense to people at face value.

Empirical Measures

Validity is also determined empirically.  Factor analysis is used to determine the extent to which the various instrument items are measuring common or different content areas.  The results of these analyses consistently reveal that the Student LPI® contains five factors and that the items within each factor correspond more among themselves than they do with the other factors.  This means, for example, that the items that measure Challenge the Process are all more related (correlated) with one another than they are with items measuring the other four practices.

Predictive and Concurrent Validity

The question of “So what?” is probably the most important concern for anyone who is helping young people develop their leadership skills. To answer this question, we look at determining predictive or concurrent validity, or both, assessing the extent to which Student LPI® scores are correlated with other important variables and measures.

The Student LPI® has excellent “So what?” validity, as shown by studies of the relationship between LPI® scores and such variables as group cohesion and spirit, commitment, loyalty and pride, satisfaction, and motivation.  The Five Practices are strongly correlated with several assessments of leader effectiveness (e.g., credibility). The Student LPI® is not generally related to measures of personality and is relatively independent of personal characteristics like age, gender, year in school, and ethnicity.

For example, in studies of fraternity and sorority chapter presidents, effectiveness measured along several dimensions is positively correlated with the frequency with which these student leaders were seen as engaging in the Student LPI® behaviors by chapter members. Resident directors reported that the most effective resident advisors on their campus were the ones who engaged most frequently in these leadership practices, and this was corroborated by assessments from the students living on their floors or in their residence halls.  New students on campus who were participating in a three-day orientation session reported levels of satisfaction that were positively correlated with the extent to which their student orientation leader engaged in these five leadership practices.

Overall, a strong normative statement can be made that those who engage more frequently in the set of behaviors described in the Student LPI®, as opposed to less frequently, are more likely to be effective leaders. In fact, no matter where on the scale individuals initially score, to the extent that they can increase the frequency of their behavior along these dimensions, they will become more effective leaders.

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Do the results of the Student LPI® really make a difference in the lives of students?

Most definitely, as the data clearly reveals a positive correlation between Student LPI® scores and effectiveness assessments.  That is, as the frequency with which young leaders are seen as engaging in the set of behaviors described on the Student LPI® increases, so do positive assessments of such factors as their effectiveness, work group performance, cohesiveness, credibility, and the like.

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Is there evidence that using The Five Practices model in a formal leadership development program makes a difference in students’ leadership abilities?

Yes. A number of studies have been conducted on the impact of leadership development programs. One longitudinal study reported in the Journal of College Student Development investigated the impact of a leadership development program in students’ first year on the subsequent leadership behaviors those students exhibited in their senior year. Significant changes were reported in the frequency of engaging in leadership behaviors from freshman to senior years. In addition, significant differences in leadership behaviors were found between seniors who had participated in the leadership development program with a control group of seniors who had not participated. Results, therefore, support the positive impact that The Five Practices model has upon students’ leadership development.

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