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2020 Research Projects

The purpose of the Loy IFL Fellows Program for the 2020 session is to conduct and publish leadership-centric research to provide insights to the Loy Institute and CGA about student leadership development and the cadet experience. With intentions for publishing and presenting at conferences, it is anticipated this research will have potential implications and benefits to the greater Coast Guard and all military services and Academies. The research framework is built upon four themes: leader development outcomes, leadership reflection, leadership performance assessments, and the role of leadership in organizational inclusivity. We are excited to have the six projects below approved for research this year.

Fellows: Miller (team lead), Tarhini, Rogers

Summary: The USCGA Honor Remediation Program enables a cadet who is found in violation of the Honor Concept an opportunity to internalize and demonstrate his or her commitment to the values of a Coast Guard officer. The purpose of the 10-week program – which includes the creation of a character development plan, one-on-one mentorship, interviews with military leadership, and a written essay – is to promote reflection and critical thinking. This project will explore the role a cadet’s leader identity and personal identity plays in their successful completion of the Honor Remediation Program.

Importance to CGA, Service Academies in General, and the U.S. Military: Service academies and military organizations rely on continuous high performance, personal courage, and integrity. When individual actions do not reflect military core values, strong and effective remediation processes are needed to encourage desired outcomes. It is critical to understand what contributes to the effectiveness of such interventions.

Fellows: Estrada (team lead), Xu, Szelwach, Rogers, Strickland

Summary: Today’s American workforce is older, more racially and ethnically diverse, and includes more women than ever. As a result of these demographic changes scholars and practitioners have sought to examine how demographic changes influence individuals and their organizations, but limited research has explored how diversity and inclusion influences leadership development and individual performance. We will explore how participation in diverse groups (e.g., membership and participation in demographically diverse Academy clubs, groups, teams) and perceptions of inclusivity within those activities influence USCGA cadet leadership development, leadership performance ratings, and individual academic and military performance outcomes.

Importance to CGA, Service Academies in General, and the U.S. Military: Military officers are responsible for leading complex teams comprised of individuals with wide-ranging backgrounds and experiences. Service academies like USCGA play an integral role in equipping future leaders with the knowledge, skills, abilities, and competencies to become effective leaders in an increasingly-diverse U.S. military.

Fellows: Wesley (team lead), Rogers, Xu

Summary: Service academy matriculation is often dependent upon receiving assistance from others and classmates often seek and exchange assistance on any number of things (e.g. coursework, physical fitness, mental health, etc.). While there is a robust literature on helping behaviors as social exchanges, few, if any articles address specific and generalized exchanges in the context of helping behaviors by measuring exchange dyads as one-to-one exchanges, one-to-group, and group-to-one exchanges. Further, they do not address the social risk associated with conferring help (due to the finite and perishable nature of the intangible resources leveraged to provide someone assistance). The Coast Guard Academy serves as an ideal setting to test these ideas.

Importance to CGA, Service Academies in General, and the U.S. Military: A better understanding of how social and human capital resource exchanges occur among military trainees, and what effect this has on their leadership development, efficacy, and success, can help military organizations design environments and encourage behaviors that promote positive organizational behavior and enhance organizational effectiveness and performance.

Fellows: Rogers (team lead), Vermeer, Strickland, Miller, Xu

Summary: Research on college student volunteering suggests that some students volunteer for what they can gain from the experience (work experience that can enhance employability, access to networks, to learn something, and so on). Such motives have been labeled by scholars as utilitarian or egoistic, among other terms. These potential gains or signaling benefits would seem to be attenuated in a military academy setting where one's employability isn't necessarily enhanced through student volunteering. So, why do cadets and midshipmen volunteer (above and beyond their few mandatory service hours)? What are their motivations and what do they get out of their service personally? And how is their volume of service related to academic, military, leadership, and other performance outcomes?

Importance to CGA, Service Academies in General, and the U.S. Military: Student volunteerism is desired by all service academies, and many require some minimum number of community service hours in order to graduate. Additionally, volunteerism is often evaluated as an important element in academy admissions. This study seeks to uncover what volunteerism and community service means for the service academy student, what it tells us about their leadership and academic potential, and if and why it matters for future military performance.

Fellows: Szelwach (team lead), Tarhini, Miller, Sweet

Summary: To navigate the complex challenges of the 21st century and volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous (VUCA) environments, new ways of knowing and leading will become increasingly important. Given the VUCA nature of military environments, this study will explore the perceptions and use of embodied leadership (leaders who "embody" the capacity to lead in the midst of ambiguity and complexity) practices at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy.

Importance to CGA, Service Academies in General, and the U.S. Military: Understanding the processes that maximize student capacity to physically, intellectually, and emotionally lead well during times of crisis and in ever-changing operational environments will help accessions and training programs develop tailored leadership programs that maximize managerial and performance excellence afloat, ashore, in the air, and in the field.

Fellows: CAPT Hickey (team lead), Dr. Sean Rogers, Dr. Yang Xu

Summary: We examine whether cadet perceptions of being mentored (i.e., the protégé’s experience) are associated with his/her own performance. To address this research question, we quantify cadet perceptions via surveys of their recent mentoring experience(s) at CGA. We further examine these measures and their association to the following measures of performance: (1) class rank and its subcomponents of cumulative grade point average (CGPA), cumulative military precedence index (CMPI), cumulative physical development competencies (CPDC), and (2) the number of months on academic, physical, and/or military probation, if applicable.

Importance to CGA, Service Academies in General, and the U.S. Military: A core component of the CGA leader development strategy (i.e., LEAD) is to “deepen understanding through mentoring.” Accordingly, cadets receive mentoring from various sources (e.g., formal mentoring program, coaches, academic advisors, company officers, other cadets). Strong anecdotal evidence at CGA suggests that substantial time is dedicated to mentoring cadets and that the mentoring is beneficial. Much research has shown that mentored individuals benefit in numerous ways (e.g., career opportunities, psychosocial benefits). Little is known, however, on whether the experience of being mentored is associated with an individual’s performance in a highly structured environment such as the CGA. We believe systematic differences related to cadet mentoring experiences may provide preliminary evidence that can help validate current practices (e.g., involvement in the CGA cadet mentoring program, GOLD team engagements) and/or to pinpoint programmatic gaps in leader development.

Contact Information

Loy Institute for Leadership
Mr. Tobias OlsenUSCGA Leader Development Program ManagerLoy Institute Fellows Program Administrator860-442-2691 Ext. 30[email protected]