A Cross-cultural Study of Student Leadership in RS Schools

A cross-cultural global study, into students’ perceptions of what makes an effective leader, has identified honesty, responsibility and listening skills alongside confidence and effective communications as the most important qualities and skills.

The study saw data collected from 6,760 teenagers and 1,695 teachers in Round Square schools in 34 countries through an online survey, and the survey findings were expanded through 114 in-depth interviews.

The Researchers found that students’ attitudes and ideas about leadership are more systemic than hierarchical, and report a belief in students “that effective leadership involves collaboration, ethical conduct, and service”.

The study highlighted shared perspectives of effective leadership across age, gender, and cross-cultural contexts, which the researchers suggest could indicate a ‘Round Square effect’ related to how “a common educational philosophy and commitment to student leadership in Round Square schools may cultivate common leadership perspectives.”

The study delved into students’ own sense of their capacity for leadership, their sources of inspiration and the activities they found most useful in developing and practicing relevant skills. The top five activities for building leadership noted by students in the online survey were groupwork (95%), projects (91%), presentations (90%), hobbies (83%), and sports (76%).

The Research Team also found that whilst students consider global youth leaders such as Greta Thunberg and Malala Yousafzai to be sources of inspiration, their positive leadership role models are, in fact, found closer to home. It revealed that students’ most impactful lessons in leadership come from those family members, friends, and teachers whose capacity to overcome adversity, work collaboratively and enthuse others provides them with accessible real-world examples.

The Research Study was led by Dr Ewan Wright, Assistant Professor and Research Fellow, assisted by Dr Kanwal Syeda Hassan at The Joseph Lau Luen Hung Charitable Trust Asia Pacific Centre for Leadership and Change at The Education University of Hong Kong with Professor Allan Walker, Dr Darren Bryant, Professor Moosung Lee, and Soobin Choi completing the University research team. They were supported in their quest by 26 Student Research Ambassadors from 12 Round Square schools. Thank you to our Research Ambassador schools:

CheongShim International Academy, Korea; Belgrano Day School, Argentina; Chadwick School, USA; Christ’s College, New Zealand; Craighouse School, Chile; Inter Community School Zürich, Switzerland; Keystone Academy, China; Scotch College, Perth, Australia; St. Constantine’s School, Tanzania; Stanford Lake College, South Africa; The Shri Ram School- Aravali, India; and Vivek High School, India