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Considering joining the Multi-Institutional Study of Leadership (MSL)?
By Stan Dura, University of Nevada Las Vegas
Founded at the University of Maryland, the MSL came about to help (a) enable educators to enhance their leadership development initiatives, and (b) provide benchmarking data to help improve practice.  It is administered on multiple campuses and identifies environmental features that contribute most to leadership outcomes.
The principal investigators are Dr. John P. Dugan, Dr. Susan R. Komives, and Dr. Julie E. Owen, and in the 2006 administration, over 60,000 respondents participated from 52 institutions, which makes it one of the largest studies of college student leadership.
The MSL uses the revised Socially Responsible Leadership Scale (SRLS-R2), based on the Social Change Model of Leadership (SCML), featuring 8 core values:

  1. Consciousness of Self
  2. Congruence
  3. Commitment

  1. Common Purpose
  2. Collaboration
  3. Controversy with Civility

  1. Citizenship

  1. Change for the common good
This model is based in a context of facilitating social change; thus the scale may not measure leadership in other contexts.  Nonetheless, MSL staff report that many campuses that do not use the SCML still found the results useful.
The reliability and construct validity of the SRLS-R2 instrument, based on the MSL 2006 administration, is adequate, with Cronbach's Alpha values ranging from .77 to .83 for individual scales; however a comprehensive understanding of the instrument’s validity is difficult without other measures of validity (i.e. concurrent, predictive, convergent, etc.).  This is more or less important depending on the inferences drawn from the data; nonetheless, the MSL is still a useful instrument as the 2006 results show.
Different schools have used the SRLS and MSL in different ways.  Trinity College used the SRLS to evaluate the effectiveness of a single program, measuring pre-post scores of all 11 participants, and showing changes in mean with no comparison to other groups.
Drake University used the MSL to evaluate the overall effectiveness of their leadership development efforts, reporting statistics comparing first year, junior and senior students groups, regardless of involvement in leadership programs.  Clear and significant differences were found resulting from either their involvement or simple maturation.
An exemplary model is UC Berkley’s approach, using MSL data to compare pre-post scores related to individual programs with overall campus averages, thus providing a reference point with which to interpret the program’s impact.  They also engaged a deep qualitative analysis of related artifacts (reflection papers, portfolios, etc.), and they were able to (with IRB approval) match individual MSL data with internal assessments.  This resulted in a tremendously rich and deep understanding of the impact of their programs.
The 2012 MSL includes several new features:

  • New "MSL Insight Reports":  User-friendly, strategically targeted reports designed to facilitate the translation of MSL results to practice on individual campuses.
  • Direct communication between MSL Researchers and participant calls to help interpret results.
  • The survey has been shortened and refined to improve reliability and validity of measures.
    For more information on the MSL, SRLS, or the Social Change Model of Leadership, visit the following websites:
    MSL -
    SRLS - 

Register Now

Are you new to assessment?  Looking for a tangible way to learn the assessment skills you need in order to be successful?  There’s still time to register for the ACPA Student Affairs Assessment Institute ( in Chicago, June 16-18. 

The 2011 ACPA Student Affairs Assessment Institute has been designed to meet critical continuing education needs to promote the success of student affairs professionals. The three-day conference is organized around the ASK (Assessment Skills and Knowledge) Standards developed by ACPA and endorsed by assessment experts on staff at the Association of American College and Universities, the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association, and the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.

Assessment Institute continued

As a common professional foundation for the assessment skills and knowledge expected of student affairs professionals, the thirteen ASK standards and three thematic clusters offer a roadmap for professional development.

During the course of the three day institute, you will experience a curriculum to help you create an individualized assessment plan from beginning to end. Plenary and smaller group sessions will provide you the tools necessary to create an assessment plan, while faculty in residence and your cohort of colleagues will guide you in managing issues unique to your situation.

Interested in more information on the MSL?

Visit  for information on enrollment and 2011-12 pricing. 

Commission News

Thinking about presenting about an assessment  best practice at National Convention in 2012? Consider submitting your proposal ( as a Sponsored Program with the Commission for Assessment.  Program submission opens July 5thso start brainstorming ideas. We hope to see your program proposal in our sponsored program list this year!