top of page

Understanding South Asian Collegiate Experiences: Facilitating Campus Leadership Self-Efficacy

Naren D. Selvaratnam, Prof. Dr. Barbara D. Holmes


Leadership self-efficacy of South Asian international students in the United States campuses is often not discussed in leadership literature. The following study explored collegiate experiences and leadership engagement of South Asian students. Informants of the study included undergraduate international students from Sri Lanka, India, Bangladesh, and Nepal. Findings indicated a tendency amongst the informants to engage in leadership activities for self-development. Participating students considered acculturation and inclusion in the learning community, and decoding American academic culture as key concerns that act as barriers in the road to assume campus leadership opportunities. Even though South Asian international students demonstrate efficacious leadership activity engagement within the campus in the United States, students still stressed the importance of actively participating in activities that strongly align with cultural interests.


Keywords: Leadership Self-Efficacy, South Asian, International students


AAPA. (2018). Bicultural identity conflict and South Asian international students. Retrieved from


Alase, A. (2017). The Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA): A guide to a good qualitative research approach, International Journal of Education and Literacy Studies, 5(2), 1-19.


Armino, J.L., Carter, S., & Jones, S.E., Kruger, K., Lucas, N., Washington, J., Young, N., Scott, A. (2000). Leadership experiences of students of color. NASPA Journal, 37(3), 496-510.

Balon, D.G. (2005, April 26). Asian pacific American college students on leadership: Culturally marginalized from the leader role? Netresults. Retrieved from INAL_submit%20to%20UGS.pdf;sequence=1


Bandura, A. (1977). Self-efficacy: toward a unifying theory of behavioral change, Psychological Review, 84(2), 191-215.


Bandura, A. (1994). Self-efficacy: In V.S. Ramachandran (Ed.), Encyclopedia of Human Behavior (pp. 71-81). New York: Academic Press (Reprinted in H. Friedman (Ed.), Encyclopedia of Mental Health. San Diego: Academic Press, 1998).


Bandura, A. (1997) Self-efficacy: exercise of control. New York: W.H. Freeman & Company.


Bandura, A. (2000). Exercise of human agency through collective efficacy, Current Directions in Psychological Science, 75-78.


Bhattacharjee, Y. (2018). How South Asian Americans are building a new American dream, National Geographic, Retrieved from


Brocki, J., Wearden, A. (2006). A critical evaluation of the use of interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA) in health psychology. Psychology and Health, 21(1), 87-108.


Chemers, M.M. (2000). Leadership research and theory: A functional integration. Group Dynamics: Theory, Research and Practice, 4(1), 27-43.


Creswell, J. W. (2012). Educational Research: Planning, Conducting and Evaluating Quantitative and Qualitative Research (4th Ed.). Boston, MA: Pearson.


Denzine, G. (1999). Personal and collective efficacy: Essential components of college students’ leadership development. Concepts & Connections, 8(1), 3-5.


Dugan, J.P. & Komives, S.R. (2007). Developing leadership capacity in college students: Findings from a national study. A report from the Multi-Institutional Study of Leadership. college park, MD: National Clearinghouse for Leadership Programs.


Dugan, J.P., Komives, S.R., & Segar, T.C. (2008). College student capacity for socially responsible leadership: understanding norms and influences of race, gender, and sexual orientation. NASPA Journal, 45(4), 475-500.


Hajloo, N. (2014). Relationships between self-efficacy, self-esteem and procrastination in undergraduate psychology students, Iranian Journal of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, 8(3), 42-49.

Hannah, S, T., Avolio, B, J., Luthans, F., Harms, P, D. (2008). Leadership efficacy: review and future directions, The Leadership Quarterly, 1-24.


Henderson, L., Gilbert, P., Zimbardo, P. (2014). Shyness, social anxiety, and social phobia, Social anxiety: Clinical, developmental, and social perspectives, Third edition. 95- 115.

IELTS (2017). Test taker performance 2017. Retrieved from


Institute of International Education. (2017). International Student Data: All Places of Origin [Data file and code book]. Retrieved from

Kastanakis, M., Voyer, B, G. (2014). The effect of culture on perception and cognition: A conceptual framework, Journal of Business Research, 67(4), 425-433.


Kodama, C, M. (2014). A Structural Model of Leadership Self-Efficacy for Asian American Students: Examining Influences of Collective Racial Esteem and Resilience (Doctoral Thesis). Loyola University of Chicago, Chicago, IL.


Lee, D. (2011). Examining the Relationship Between Collective Racial Esteem and Leadership Self-Efficacy among Asian American College Students. (Master’s thesis). Retrieved from ProQuest Dissertations and Theses database. (UMI No. 1501232)


Liang, C. T. H., Lee, S., & Ting, M. P. (2002). Developing Asian American leaders. In M. K. McKwen, C. M. Kodama, A. N. Alvarez, S. Lee, & C. T. H. Liang (Eds.), Working with Asian American college students (81-89), New Directions for Student Services, 97. San Franciso, CA: Jossey-Bass.

McCormick, M, J., Tanguma, J., Lopez-Forment, A, S. (2002). Extending self-efficacy theory to leadership: a review and empirical test, Journal of Leadership Education, 1(2), 34-49.


Meghani, D, T., Harvey, E, A. (2016). Asian Indian international students’ trajectories of depression, acculturation, and enculturation, Asian American Journal of Psychology, 7(1), 1-14.


Nguyen, D, H, K. (2015). International Student Self-Efficacy of Leadership: A Within-Group Analysis (Doctoral dissertation). Retrieved from ProQuest Dissertations and Theses database. (Accession No. 3737394)


Nguyen, D, H, K. (2016). Student Success Through Leadership Self-Efficacy: A Comparison of International and Domestic Students, Journal of International Students, 6(4), 829- 842.

Pew Research Center (2017). Indians in the U.S. fact sheet [Data file and code book]. Retrieved from


Rana, A, M. (2016). Beyond the Classroom: Student Involvement Experiences of Second Generation South Asian College Students (Doctoral dissertation, Rutgers University). Retrieved from


Santiago, A, D. (2005). Asian international students’ ethnic identity, spirituality, acculturation, and experience of racism: relationship with attitude toward seeking professional therapeutic help (Doctoral dissertation). Retrieved from Proquest. (Accession No. 3184647).


Scholz, U., Dona, B, N., Sud, S., Schwarzer, R. (2002). Is general self-efficacy a universal construct? Psychometric findings from 25 countries, European Journal of Psychological Assessment, 18(3), 242-251.

Selvaratnam, N., Hettiarachchi, D., Dantanarayana, D., Bergen, S., Selvaratnam, S., Ponnamperuma, L. (2018). Investigating the Psychometric Properties, and IRT Analysis of the Sinhala Generalized Self-Efficacy Scale (S-GSES), GARI International Journal of Multidisciplinary Research: Education Psychology, 4(2), 73- 95.


Smith, J. A., Flowers, P., & Larkin, M. (2009). Interpretative phenomenological analysis: Theory, method and research. Los Angeles, CA: SAGE


Suzuki, B.H. (2002). Revisiting the model minority stereotype: Implications for student affairs practice and higher education. In M.K. McKwen, C.M. Kodama, A.N. Alvarez, S. Lee, & C.T.H. Liang (Eds.), Working with Asian American College Students (pp. 21-32), New Directions for Student Services, 97. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Wang, Y., Xie, G., & Cui, X. (2016). Effects of emotional intelligence and self-leadership on students’ coping with stress, Social Behavior and Personality: An International Journal, 44(5), 853-864.


Wang, R., Hempton, B., Dugan, J. P., & Komives, S. R. (2007). Cultural differences or what? Why Asians avoid extreme responses. Paper presented at the annual conference of the American Association for Public Opinion Research, Anaheim, CA.


Yam, K. (2017, July 19). Safety is a top concern for Indian students admitted to US schools for fall. The Huffpost.


Young, J, T. (2017). Confucianism and Accents: Understanding the Plight of the Asian International Student in the U.S, Journal of International Students, 7(3), 433-448.

bottom of page