Date of Award

May 2021

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Educational Leadership - Higher Education

Committee Member

Tony W. Cawthon

Committee Member

Kay Banks

Committee Member

Michelle Boettcher

Committee Member

Jacquelynn Malloy


The purpose of this basic qualitative research study was to explore how positional student leaders accessed and developed social capital as a result of their involvement with student organizations. The study was guided by the theory of social capital as the theoretical framework. Through semi-structured interviews and social network maps, participants described various actions they took to access and develop social within their positional leadership roles. To access social capital, participants reported engaging in instrumental action through three sub-themes: (a) personal initiative, (b) utilizing organizational advisors, and (c) leveraging their positional roles. To develop social capital, participants reported engaging in expressive action through three sub-themes: (a) converting connections into strong relationships, (b) leveraging those relationships, and (c) paying social capital forward to future student leaders. The findings of this study contribute to student affairs practice, policy, and research related to the intersection of student involvement and social capital at higher education institutions.



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