Date of Award


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Degree Name

Education, Ed.D.



First Advisor

Dr. Eric Anctil

LC Subjects

College dropouts--Prevention; Education, Higher; Self-efficacy


College student retention remains a prevalent topic in higher education as demographics change and the need to manage enrollment increases. Evidence suggests that women are outperforming men in college environments, and there are enrollment pipeline leaks in the sophomore year when many sophomores experience a slump in satisfaction and performance. This study examined experiential and environmental factors that predict leadership efficacy in traditional-aged sophomore male college students using data from the 2015 Multi-Institutional Study of Leadership. Descriptive statistics revealed percentages of sophomore male participation in a number of MSL-identified campus experiences, clubs and organizations, and leadership development activities. Sophomore males tended to be more involved in sports-related and outdoor adventure activities, but less engaged with community service related activities than sophomore females. Leadership efficacy scores were compared between those sophomore males who were involved in particular activities and those who were not. Sophomore males who performed community service, addressed concerns within the community, or worked with others to make the community a better place showed greater differences in leadership efficacy, with large Cohen’s d effect sizes ranging from .89 to .91. There were also similar large effect sizes ranging between .85 to 1.01 for those sophomore males who engaged in a variety of leadership development activities and those who did not.

Leadership efficacy mean scores were also calculated for class and gender subgroups for comparison, and a two-way ANOVA was used to determine if there were any differences. While statistically significant differences were found between the groups, the effect sizes were small, and there did not appear to be evidence supporting the sophomore slump within the sophomore male sample. Finally, leadership efficacy correlated moderately (r=.57) with consciousness of self, providing some evidence for how provoking a sense of altruism can be a productive pathway for bolstering confidence in leadership. This study adds to the literature on gender differences in higher education and the sophomore slump. The research provides clues to ways in which student affairs educators can design experiences and environments that can enhance leadership efficacy for sophomore males. This study also highlights the importance of institutional commitment to supporting leadership development activities as a tool for retention.


Copyright for this work is retained by the author.

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