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Making the Most of your MSL Data

Have you participated in the MSL recently (2018, 2015 or even earlier) and still wondering how to make use of the rich data you have received? 

Suffering from data overload?

If you are not sure where to start (or where to go next), we have a few suggestions:

First, if you participated in the MSL2018 and you have not yet completed your MSL debriefing call, definitely take advantage of that opportunity at your earliest convenience.  This is your time to have MSL research team members entirely focused on your report and your school.  It is included in the MSL participation fee and will only cost you an hour of your time.  If this describes you - you can stop reading now and go schedule your call.  A link to the scheduler is available from within the School Guide.

If you have already completed your debriefing call - or you participated most recently in 2015 or before - read on!

Do not be ashamed, or feel like you should know where to turn next - in fact most institutions that participate in the MSL have a similar concern.  Most just aren't brave enough to admit it.

Schools intend to use the MSL data to develop new programs, justify existing programs, as a baseline for future longitudinal studies, or simply to learn more about where their students are, and identify what areas they may get the most from further instruction.  Turning the report and data into actionable steps can be an overwhelming task.

Many schools find that working with outsiders - who are a few steps away from your institutions - can help tremendously.  A third party perspective often allows you to break through to identify easy steps that may be right under your nose.

The MSL has always made research team members available to consult with institutions who wish to have more assistance in using their data.  We can offer custom consulting agreements to support those needs.  If you are interested in further exploring your MSL reports and data, you may contact your school coordinator - or email us at or click on the Schedule Appointment button below to schedule a meeting immediately and directly.

Whether it be analytic support, custom reporting requests, or future study design to assess programs, we can develop a custom consulting program to assist you with these needs. If your need goes beyond our areas of expertise, the MSL has an extensive network of researchers and substantive experts who may be the right fit.

Help us help you use your data now!

Social media, leadership development, and new measures coming to the MSL (Josie and the Podcast)

This week, we add a new podcast to our Leadership Thoughts series, Josie and the Podcast. Dr. Josie Ahlquist connects tech and leadership in higher education. Her guest this episode is Dr. John Dugan, the MSL Principal Investigator. In this episode, John and Josie discuss how social media and technology are woven into every aspect of a student’s life, and the need to help engage with these tools. John discusses new questions being added to the MSL about the use of technology... <<MORE>>


Leadership mail bag with Susan Komives (NASPA Leadership Podcast)

While Susan Komives may have retired from teaching and stepped down from her role as PI in the MSL, she continues to advance leadership scholarship and build the case for evidence-based practice through many channels, including the editorship of New Directions for Student Leadership and by joining Myles Surrett for a special Q & A episode.

There’s something for everyone in this installment... <<MORE>>



CCP (6 of 6): Leadership is the sense that we make of it: Concluding thoughts on Cultivating Critical Perspectives (NASPA Leadership Podcast)

Over the past five episodes, we’ve really gotten to know author John Dugan and many of the contributors to Leadership Theory: Cultivating Critical Perspectives. John and host Myles Surrett take us on a journey of reflecting on critical perspectives and implications for leadership education.

Myles discusses the dominant norm in leadership education, where “we default to the assumption of shared understanding”. He draws a parallel to Robert Putnam’s book, Our Kids, where one working-class interviewee professed: “Your then was not my then, and your now isn’t even my now.”

John discusses the reality, pain, and privilege...  <<MORE>>



CCP (5 of 6): Lean into the Gray, Co-Curricular Applications of Cultivating Critical Perspectives (NASPA Leadership Podcast)

In the penultimate NASPA Leadership Podcast focusing on Leadership Theory: Cultivating Critical Perspectives, Lesley-Ann Brown-Henderson, Executive Director of Campus Inclusion and Community at Northwestern University, joins John Dugan and host Myles Surrett to discuss co-curricular applications of the new book and facilitator’s guide.

You won’t come away from this podcast with step-by-step instructions on running a session with your staff; Lesley-Ann, John, and Myles give us so much more.  <<MORE>>



CCP (4 of 6): Inter-disciplinary, inter-functional, interruption: The Facilitator’s Guide (NASPA Leadership Podcast)

 In episode 4 of the podcast series discussing Leadership Theory: Cultivating Critical Perspectives, Natasha Turman and Amy Barnes, authors of the Facilitator’s Guide, discuss development of the activities and how the guide disrupts normative leadership theory and interrupts biases through critical self-reflection.

The facilitator’s guide evolved... <<MORE>>



CCP (3 of 6): Counter-Narratives: The Heart and Soul of Cultivating Critical Perspectives (NASPA Leadership Podcast)

The “heart and soul” of John Dugan’s new book, Leadership Theory: Cultivating Critical Perspectives, is the counter-narratives found at the end of each chapter. Illustrating leadership research and theories in real life, the counter-narratives serve to amplify voices and stories that are often left at the margins.

Myles states that the counter-narratives are one of the many things that make this book worthwhile and... <<MORE>>



CCP (2 of 6): Ana Rossetti and John Dugan – What has been seen cannot be unseen, or, curricular applications of Cultivating Critical Perspectives (NASPA Leadership Podcast)

Ana Rossetti and John Dugan discuss curricular applications of Leadership Theory: Cultivating Critical Perspectives.

Ana piloted the book and facilitator’s manual in her class “Foundations of Ethics and Social Justice in Leadership” at Loyola University. Calling it an “essential and treasured resource”, Ana appreciates the clearly defined learning objectives... <<MORE>>



CCP (1 of 6): Introduction to Leadership Theory: Cultivating Critical Perspectives (NASPA Leadership Podcast)

NASPA Leadership Podcast, hosted by Myles Surrett
Episode 23:  Cultivating Critical Perspectives Part 1: Introduction with John Dugan

Myles sits down with John Dugan to discuss his new book, Leadership Theory: Cultivating Critical Perspectives. This first podcast of the series introduces the concepts and themes found in the book, and describes the process of developing the book and material.

In true critical perspectives fashion, even the style of the book is disruptive... <<MORE>>


Cultivating Critical Perspectives 6-Part Series by NASPA Leadership Podcast

Readers of Leadership Thoughts have seen several quick summaries of podcasts where Myles Surrett interviews professionals in the field of college student leadership development.  We have highlighted four key individuals in this blog -- all of whom have had key roles in some way in the development of the MSL.

Myles and the NASPA Leadership Podcast are now embarking on a journey through a new 6-part series...


Julie Owen - The Third Wave of Student Leadership Development is Here!

Yet another great review with a researcher in the field of college student leadership development is highlighted in this next podcast from the NASPA Student Leadership Podcast, hosted by Myles Surrett.  In Episode 17, Myles interviews Julie Owen, an Assistant Professor of Leadership and Integrative Studies at New Century College, George Mason University and a project consultant for the Multi-Institutional Study of Leadership (MSL).

Julie’s discussion with Myles centered around the current state of collegiate student leadership development and the third wave that we are now embarking upon...



Susan Komives - Student Activist to Career Student Leadership Researcher (Podcast Review)

In our third review from key episodes from the NASPA Student Leadership Podcast, hosted by Myles Surrett - it is time to turn to Susan Komives, Professor Emerita at the University of Maryland and project consultant for the Multi-Institutional Study of Leadership (MSL).

Susan reflects on a pathbreaking career in student leadership development and predicts future trends in the field...


Welcome to Leadership Thoughts!

As we prepare for the 2018 administration of the Multi-Institutional Study of Leadership (our 7th data collection!) we are finding that we have a lot more to share with you all than our simple News or Other Resources sections could provide.  Leadership Thoughts - a blog on topics relevant to the MSL - was born as a platform to expand the information that we can share about our (and your) work.

We will use this column to point to point to other resources, but also to communicate our reactions and considerations to what we see.  Gust authors are welcomed - if you have something you would like to share, please send it to and we will be in touch if we are able to include it.  

Meanwhile, if you would like to be notified by newsletter of upcoming posts to this blog, you will receive links to recent posts in our newsletter.  Sign up using the form on the front page..