HEDS occasionally supports projects led by people at HEDS institutions and works with external partners on research that helps us fulfill our mission of advancing liberal arts education, inclusive excellence, and student success. We describe two of these projects below. If you are interested in working with HEDS on a research project or learning about research projects that are in the works, please contact Charlie Blaich and Kathy Wise. We’re happy to either connect you with a project or help you develop your own project. To see results of past HEDS research projects, please visit our Findings page.

Leadership Section on the HEDS Alumni Survey


Countless college and university programs focus on developing leadership among undergraduates. Nonetheless, pipelines to leadership outcomes beyond college are not well understood, often lack a scientific foundation, and appear to exacerbate, rather than mitigate, existing barriers to the diversification of future leaders. Better data holds the key for advancing the empirical study of leadership development and, in turn, the design and implementation of more effective leadership programming for college students. Ultimately, we hope this will lead to a broadening of the leadership pipeline. The Leadership Section on the HEDS Alumni Survey can help us achieve these critical goals.

The Leadership Section contains two measures that capture different dimensions of leadership. Both have been validated through prior studies on college student and alumni samples. One measure relates to leadership aspirations, the other relates to leadership motivations. Neither measure has, to date, been examined at the scale of HEDS Alumni Survey or with the kind of diversity found among the HEDS Alumni Survey participants. Combining the leadership section with existing measures of college experiences and post-college behaviors, attitudes, and outcomes in the HEDS Alumni Survey will allow us to advance research and institutional programming to support leadership attainment.

Leadership Aspirations (Question 23 on the HEDS Alumni Survey) is a nine-item scale adapted from the Career Aspirations Scale-Revised (CAS-R) Leadership Subscale (Gregor & O’Brien, 2016), and indicates one’s explicit desire for holding leadership positions and positional authority within a chosen career domain. Alumni will be asked questions like, “I want my work to have a lasting impact on my field” and “I want to have responsibility for the future direction of my organization or company.” Leadership Motivations (Cassidy & Lynn, 1989) contains two subscales (Question 24 on the HEDS Alumni Survey) used to assess how much importance individuals attribute to qualities that are typically deemed leadership-like. Individuals will be asked to respond to questions such as, “I enjoy having authority over other people” and “I want to be an important person in the community,” as examples from the dominance and prestige subscales, respectively.


We’ve included the Leadership Section in the HEDS Alumni Survey, beginning with the 2022-2023 administration year. Any college or university that administers the HEDS Undergraduate Alumni Survey from August 2022–on will have the Leadership Section in their survey and will receive summary data on the two leadership scales, Leadership Aspirations and Leadership Motivations in their survey report. You can learn more about this survey and register on the HEDS Alumni Survey page.

If you have questions about administering the HEDS Alumni Survey, please contact us at alumnisurvey@hedsconsortium.org. If you have questions about the scales in the Leadership Section, please contact Gregory Wolniak of the Louise McBee Institute of Higher Education, University of Georgia, and Jennifer Tackett, Department of Psychology, Northwestern University.

Cassidy, T., & Lynn, R. (1989). A multifactorial approach to achievement motivation: The development of a comprehensive measure. Journal of Occupational Psychology, 62(4), 301–312.

Gregor, M.A., & O’Brien, K.M. (2016). Understanding career aspirations among young women: Improving instrumentation. Journal of Career Assessment, 24(3), 559–572.