Monash University

An investigation into the development of adolescent leadership in an Australian educational setting

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posted on 2017-09-12, 04:22 authored by Peter Schneider
For almost two decades the School for Student Leadership (SSL) has conducted a nine week residential experiential outdoor education program for Year 9 students. The van Linden and Fertman (1998) stages of leadership development provides the theoretical and conceptual frameworks for this study and is deeply rooted in adolescent developmental psychology. The distinction between doing leadership and being a leader is central to the student understanding of personal leadership development and is a core tenet of the SSL.
By building on and extending the work of a previous longitudinal study, this thesis addresses a gap in the Australian literature, and provided an avenue for student perceptual data to be gathered through a survey, focus group and individual interviews. Thus the study employed quantitative methods using survey techniques in a pre- and post-study design which allowed matched paired data to then be complemented by rich qualitative data analysis.
The study reports the development and validation of a context specific instrument, the School for Student Leadership Instrument (SSLI), through a development and validation procedure. Expert opinion on measurement and a re-examination of existing instruments and SSL studies were used to refine the SSLI to its final form.
Four themes, relating to the School for Student Leadership, were derived from the mixed methods analysis. The themes included: Leadership, its understanding and implementation; Teamwork, its importance in everyday life both in the classroom and outside it; Community, and the development of good working relationships with peers and adults; and Enterprise, through giving back to the community.
Student understandings contributed significantly to their development as leaders and provided a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be “the leader one already is” through a balance of transactional and transformational leadership opportunities.


Campus location


Principal supervisor

John Loughran

Additional supervisor 1

Jeffrey Dorman

Additional supervisor 2

Venesser Fernandes

Year of Award


Department, School or Centre



Doctor of Philosophy

Degree Type



Faculty of Education