Sharing the Full Range of Leadership in Student Teams: Developing an Instrument

Contributing USMA Research Unit(s)

Civil and Mechanical Engineering

Publication Date


Publication Title

ASEE Annual Conference

Document Type

Conference Proceeding


Sharing the Full Range of Leadership in Student Teams: Developing an InstrumentThe federal government and industry have called for engineers to play a more prominentleadership role in business and public service. Increasing the technical literacy in high levels ofleadership may help shape decisions which support well-informed, economically sustainableinnovation and solutions to problems facing our planet. Because formative experiences duringundergraduate years help engineers shape their professional identities, purposefully helpingstudents cultivate their leadership skills is an important step toward meeting those calls.Leadership scholars suggest that shared leadership may be a more effective leadership modelthan the historical norm of hierarchical individual leadership for students engaged in team-basedcapstone design projects. The capstone experience replicates the creative, complex, andinterdependent knowledge work where shared leadership can be effective. To be able to study ashared leadership model with engineering student design team contexts, we need to develop newdata collection instruments—our paper takes up this challenge.Based on Bass and Avolio’s (1994) Full Range of Leadership Model, the newly developedinstrument was designed to measure transformational leadership behaviors across the Full Rangeof Leadership in a round robin fashion. We drew on Bass and Avolio’s (1995) MultifactorLeadership Questionnaire as the base set of survey questions and collected pilot data from a totalof 240 mechanical engineering capstone design students at a large, mid-Atlantic engineeringresearch institution (n=198) as well as a smaller northeastern military focused engineeringcollege (n=42).Our analyses explore these round-robin survey data in several ways. We show consistentleadership constructs using both exploratory factor analysis and principal component analysis.The results were compared to the original construct of the Full Range of Leadership Model todetermine model consistency in the student design team context. In an effort to minimize surveyfatigue in future administrations of the survey, the resulting factors were further analyzed todecrease the number of survey items while maintaining acceptable factor reliability. We presenta reliable and shortened data collection instrument that will facilitate further study of shared FullRange of Leadership within engineering student capstone design teams. A novel finding of thestudy is a leadership construct for mechanical engineering student design teams that is notwholly consistent with previous applications of the Full Range of Leadership Model to othercontexts.

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