Document Type

Thesis - Open Access

Award Date


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department / School

Health and Consumer Sciences

First Advisor

Hungling (Stella) Liu


Campus Recreation, Communication, Leadership, Mentorship, Student Affairs, Student Development


Student employee positions in campus recreation allow students to gain transferrable skills. Previous studies show that students employed in specialized program areas have different experiences that are beneficial for their development. Addressing the gap in research, the purpose of this study was to understand the relationship between leadership, communication, and relationship building skills among student group fitness instructors. Additionally, to investigate if transferrable skill development varies based on an instructor’s work experience and demographics. A total of 112 student group fitness instructors from 17 different NIRSA institutions completed an electronic questionnaire in the fall of 2021. Recreation directors were invited to send the questionnaire to their student group fitness instructors via email. Addressing three skill outcomes, leadership development, effective communication, and meaningful interpersonal relationships, a 5- point-Likert scale was used to describe the participants frequency and accuracy of skill objectives within each outcome. Additionally, participants were asked to complete a series of questions pertaining to their employment experience and demographic information. Descriptive statistics reported high frequency and accuracy of skill outcomes, indicating participants felt they frequently used these skills and perceived skill use was accurate. Pearson’s r correlation was used to assess the linear relationship between skill outcomes and revealed a positive, moderate to strong correlation amongst the variables. Upon further analysis, ANOVA reported that younger students, both biologically and academically, reported higher overall mean of meaningful interpersonal relationships than older students. A T-test revealed that participants who identified as male perceive lower skill frequency and accuracy than female-identifying participants. Future research could address relationship building among student employees, focusing on age and academic year. Additionally, a qualitative study interviewing male-identifying group fitness instructors may be beneficial to investigate why this demographic group is receiving a different experience than others.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

College students.
College students -- Recreation.
Social skills.
Physical fitness.
Interpersonal relations.

Number of Pages



South Dakota State University



Rights Statement

In Copyright