The purpose of this study was to determine if undergraduate fraternity and sorority members who serve as chapter officers report different experiences and gains compared to non-officers. The researchers sampled 3,008 fraternity members and 3,745 sorority members from the aggregate results of the institutions that used the AFA/EBI Fraternity/Sorority Assessment during the 2009-2010 academic year. Differences by leadership experience were tested using Cliff’s delta. The researchers found significant differences in the development of chapter officers and non-officers for eight of nine educational gains measures with chapter officers reporting greater gains in these areas. Chapter officers were also more likely to be satisfied with their fraternity/sorority experience than non-officers. There was no statistically significant difference in the alcohol use of officers and non-officers.
Most fraternal organizations promote the development of leadership skills as a benefit of joining a fraternity or sorority (Sermersheim, 1996). Through personal development programs, such as Alpha Gamma Delta’s (n.d.) The Alpha Gamma Delta Experience, Beta Theta Pi’s (n.d.) Men of Principle, and Sigma Phi Epsilon’s (n.d.) Balanced Man Program, fraternal organizations try to develop stronger leaders and better citizens. Fraternities and sororities also offer a variety of other development opportunities, such as attending conferences and serving in positions of responsibility. These experiences may be useful in preparing undergraduate members for their future careers (Kelley, 2008). Despite the efforts by fraternal organizations, it is unclear if only members who serve in positions of responsibility experience gains in leadership skills or if all members benefit from the fraternal experience.
The researchers of the current study sought to compare the experiences and gains of chapter officers and non-officers concerning educational gains, satisfaction, and alcohol use. Educational gains were defined as members’ growth in abilities, such as personal development skills, interpersonal skills, and leadership skills, as a result of the fraternal experience. The researchers found significant differences between officers and non-officers in educational gains and satisfaction. There was no statistically significant difference in the alcohol use of officers and non-officers. The results of the study have implications for professionals and advisors who work with undergraduate fraternal organizations.
Significant differences between officers and non-officers were found for eight of the nine educational gains measures. Fraternity and sorority members who served as chapter officers reported greater gains in Sense of Belonging, Diverse Interactions, Interpersonal Relationship Skills, Leadership Skills, Personal Development Skills, Self-Worth, and Intrapersonal Competence as a result of their fraternity or sorority experience compared to respondents who never served in a leadership position.
Data for this study were drawn from the aggregate results of the institutions that utilized the AFA/EBI Fraternity/Sorority Assessment survey during the 2009-2010 academic year. Educational Benchmarking, Inc. developed the survey in partnership with the Association of Fraternity/Sorority Advisors. The instrument measured demographic characteristics and educational gains in terms of sense of belonging, diverse interactions, interpersonal relationship skills, interpersonal competence, leadership skills, personal development skills, healthy behaviors, self-worth, intrapersonal competence, collaboration, principled dissent, and effective chapter leadership. The survey also measured student satisfaction in terms of housing, safety and security, and fraternity/sorority programming (AFA/EBI Assessment Committee, 2010).
Explore our additional resources to read the article in its entirety.