Higher Education Ph.D. Dissertations


An Examination of Mentoring Relationships and Leadership Capacity in Resident Assistants

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


Higher Education Administration

First Advisor

Michael Coomes

Second Advisor

William Ingle

Third Advisor

Kenneth Borland (Committee Member)

Fourth Advisor

Nicholas Bowman (Committee Member)


The purpose of this study was to examine mentoring relationships and resident assistants ' (RA) leadership capacities. In addition, the type of mentor of the RAs, and the gender match and race match of the mentor-protege pairs was investigated. This study provides insight into the profile of resident assistants as well as findings related to mentoring outcomes on the Social Change Model constructs of socially responsible leadership, and leadership efficacy. I utilized the Multi-Institutional Study of Leadership 2009 data. A sample of 6,006 resident assistants (RAs) was analyzed using an adapted version of Astin 's (1991, 1993) Inputs-Environments-Outcomes (I-E-O) college impact model as the conceptual framework and the Social Change Model of Leadership as the theoretical framework.

Independent samples t-tests, analysis of variance, and regression were used to analyze data on leadership capacity and mentoring outcomes (personal development and leadership empowerment). Leadership capacity findings suggested a mentored RA demonstrates significantly higher leadership capacity than a non-mentored RA. The type of mentor is not a predictor of socially responsible leadership; student affairs professionals are positive predictors of leadership efficacy in comparison to other student mentors. Gender match and race match mentor-protege pairings results on leadership capacity did not yield significant results. Regression findings suggest gender match and race match mentor-protege pairs did not differ from cross-gender and cross-race mentor-protege pairs on leadership capacity.

These findings fill gaps between research and practice and provide incentives for stakeholders of collegiate environments to mentor resident assistants. More specifically, these findings provide residence life and housing administrators with evidence-based research that mentored RAs demonstrate higher leadership capacities and possess the potential to become transformational change agents in college and beyond.