Title page for ETD etd-07032012-151159

Type of Document Dissertation
Author Clegorne, Nicholas Anthony
Author's Email Address nocnik@lsu.edu
URN etd-07032012-151159
Title The Lived Experience of Discovery of Purpose in Student Affairs among Emerging Professionals
Degree Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
Department Educational Theory, Policy, & Practice
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Mitchell, Roland W. Committee Chair
Bourke, Brian Committee Member
Fasching-Varner, Kenneth Committee Member
MacGregor, Kim Committee Member
Stamps Mitchell, Katherine Dean's Representative
  • Attrition
  • New Professionals
  • Education
  • Higher
  • Personnel
  • Student
  • College
Date of Defense 2012-06-07
Availability unrestricted
Clegorne, Nicholas Anthony, B.M. University of Florida, 2002, M.M. University of Florida, 2004

Doctor of Philosophy

Major: Educational Leadership and Research

The Lived Experience of Discovery of Purpose in Student Affairs among Emerging Professionals

Dissertation directed by Associate Professor Roland Mitchell

Pages in dissertation, 146. Words in abstract, 297.


Some researchers estimate that as many as three out of five new professionals will leave the field of student affairs within the first five years. Furthermore low job satisfaction has been cited heavily among new professionals in student affairs. The alarming recognition that so many young professionals are unhappy and that more than half of the field’s new professionals will leave very early in their careers has prompted a number of examinations regarding the education, training, induction and supervision of new professionals in the field of student affairs. However, such examinations focus primarily on environmental influences external to the new professional.

Studies in similar fields have suggested low job satisfaction and high attrition rates are connected to a lack of articulated purpose in a given field. This study sought to examine the discovery of purpose as one possible intrinsic contributor to job satisfaction and retention among new professionals. A qualitative study was conducted to illuminate the stories of eight emerging professionals (first-year graduate students in higher education administration through third-year new professionals in student affairs). The research design utilized phenomenological and narrative lenses and engaged self-authorship and transition theory as theoretical frames in order to explore the lived experience of discovery of purpose among young student affairs practitioners.

Significant statements suggest that participant journeys were marked by repeated transition. Furthermore, data suggests that the ability to identify a resolute, self-authored, and impactful purpose highly coincided with a commitment to remain in the field. Additionally, emerging professionals who were self-motivated to join the field said they were more likely to remain in the field. In an effort to increase persistence in the field of student affairs, a number of suggestions have been made with the intent to improve graduate preparation programs, induction processes, training designs, and supervision strategies.

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