Students love to compete and perform. It is inconceivable to ask a college athlete to practice hard but not have the opportunity to compete. Imagine how difficult it would be to recruit students to join the debate team if the students never competed against other teams. Substitute the word performance for competition and the logic still holds. It doesn’t make any sense for students to spend weeks and weeks preparing for a music recital or a theatre performance without the expectation and excitement of performing before a live audience.
Yet there is no robust “practice field” where students can apply learning in a context that challenges and stretches them to the boundaries of their knowledge, skills, and abilities. The Oskin Leadership Institute, along with faculty from John Carroll University in Cleveland, Ohio, aimed to address this gap in the field of leader development. The two universities worked together to create a leadership competition for students who want to develop their leadership muscles.
Six students from Widener University and six students from John Carroll University competed against each other on April 11, 2015. Nine different events and a head-to-head competition was judged by six leadership experts.
Three Components of the Competition
- Assessment of Leadership Knowledge (30% of score)
The two teams agreed upon a list of 18 core concepts that the student participants from both universities were asked to learn, understand, and recognize. Using a game format (think Jeopardy), the students were challenged to know and see each of the 18 core concepts.
- Demonstration of Leadership Skills and Behaviors (60% of score)
The bulk of the competition placed students in situations where they needed to exhibit a wide range of leadership skills and behaviors. These “events” included challenging the participating students to lead under the stress of a deadline or confounding variable.
- Reflecting and learning from the experience (10% of score)
There are some leader educators who believe that self-awareness is at the heart of leader development. The competition also measured each student’s ability to reflect on the experience and learn from that experience.
The six students selected by the Oskin Institute to compete on behalf of Widener University were:
Sophomore bio-medical engineering major
Sophomore nursing major
Senior psychology major
Senior psychology major
Sophomore hospitality management major
Sophomore psychology major