Developing Student Leaders in Campus Outdoor Recreation Programs: An Appreciative Inquiry


  • Dan Sandberg Ohio University
  • Bruce Martin Ohio University
  • Andrew Szolosi Ohio University
  • Sherry Early Ohio University
  • Sharon Casapulla Ohio University



leadership identity development, campus outdoor programs, appreciative inquiry, environmental conditions, cocurricular outdoor program


Campus outdoor recreation programs can play an integral role in developing student leaders. In this study, we sought a better understanding of the shared positive elements exemplary outdoor programs are using to develop their student leaders. The study was designed using a collective case study methodology and the theoretical lens of the Leadership Identity Development (LID) model. Representatives from five exemplary outdoor programs were interviewed with an appreciative inquiry approach. Five common themes emerged from the data: (a) Institutional Support, (b) Transformative Experiences, (c) Meaningful Culture, (d) Facilitative Structures, and (e) the Keys to the Castle: Authentic Leadership Opportunities. Themes were interrelated and contributed to an overall understanding of the environment that allows for successful leadership development in campus outdoor programs.

Author Biographies

Dan Sandberg, Ohio University

M.S. Recreation Studies, Campus Recreation concentration

Patton College of Education

Department of Recreation & Sport Pedagogy

Bruce Martin, Ohio University

Associate Professor & Recreation Studies Program Coordinator

Patton College of Education

Department of Recreation & Sport Pedagogy

Andrew Szolosi, Ohio University

Assistant Professor

Patton College of Education

Department of Recreation & Sport Pedagogy

Sherry Early, Ohio University


Patton College of Education

Higher Education and Student Affairs

Sharon Casapulla, Ohio University

Director, Education and Research Rural and Underserved Programs

Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine 


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Special Issue: Campus Outdoor Recreation Programs