Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Educational Theory, Policy, and Practice

Document Type



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. ABSTRACT 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.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Mitchell, Roland W.



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