Community college peer leaders: A collective case study of their development in leadership self-efficacy, social integration, and college success



Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title



With the rising increase in college tuition more students are having to work while attending college (Kay & Mitchell, 2013). To help alleviate the cost and meet their financial needs, students are resorting to on-campus student employment (Levitz, 2010). Some off-campus jobs may not offer the same benefits of on-campus employment for students such as flexibility in the work schedules, convenience of being on-campus, and learning experiences outside of the classroom. Often, colleges overlook the potential student leadership development, personal and professional growth, and enhanced overall college success student employment could provide if these factors were known and understood to administration. However, there is limited research that has studied student employment which contributed to the learning experiences of students outside of the classroom within student employment. This study attempts to inform college administration of the possible effects of student employment has on students’ leadership development, social integration, and overall college success by designing on-campus student employment positions that promote personal and professional development. The purpose of this study was to explore the experiences and perceptions of community college students employed as peer leaders, of how being student employees contributed to their leadership self-efficacy development, social integration into the institution, and contribute to their overall college success. This qualitative collective case study was used to address three research questions that explored the perceptions and experiences of 10 student employees who were employed as peer leaders. The theoretical framework that guided this study was Bandura’s (1986) social cognitive theory to understand the social interactions, experiences and perceptions of on-campus student employees.
This study was conducted at a large, public, rural community college in East Texas. There were 10 currently enrolled student employees who were purposively selected to participate. The case study research design was chosen to conduct this study. The data collection was conducted through semi-structured interviews, observations, reflexive journaling, field notes, and heavy, thick description. The interviews were audio recorded to ensure accuracy during the transcription process. The data were analyzed by the constant comparative method, including open coding, followed by axial coding, and then selective coding. The results of this study aim to illustrate the need and effects of on-campus student employment that fosters personal growth, facilitates professional development, and introduces social integration which contributes to the student overall college success. Additional findings in this study indicate that the perceptions and experiences of student workers employed as peer leaders, that their position assisted them in building self-confidence to develop their leadership self-efficacy, socially interact and take on leadership roles in the classroom and within student organizations, and enhanced their overall college success. The peer leaders also perceived that their employment increased their ability to build peer-to-peer relationships as well as with administration and faculty, thus leading to higher grades, and increased classroom activity and leadership roles. The peer leaders perceptions and experiences illustrated that their work environment was welcoming, positive, and leadership opportunities were available. Finally, the results of this study indicate that it is perceived that college administration could improve on effective promotions of the benefits and experiences of peer leaders so that other students may have the same opportunities, and other college departments can replicate their opportunities to enhance the quality and value of student employment.



Self-efficacy, Social integration