Date of Award


Degree Name

PhD Leadership Studies

Dissertation Committee

Zachary Gabriel Green, Ph.D.; Cheryl Getz, Ed.D.; Lea Hubbard, Ph.D.; Theresa Monroe, Ed.D.


Action logic, Adult development, Constructive development, Meaning making, Student affairs leadership, Student conduct administration


The field of student conduct administration (SCA) in higher education has grown more complex. Researchers and practitioners have noted the tension for conduct officers between managing legal and policy compliance focused on the adjudication of cases and serving as restorative justice minded educators oriented towards student growth and learning. As a result, the knowledge required and the skills practiced by conduct officers are broad and varied. An overlooked dimension of SCA is how conduct officer development, especially as it relates to meaning-making, influences their experiences, knowledge, and skills. This study, utilizing a developmental theory known as “action logics,” explores how conduct officer meaning-making informs their thoughts, actions, and ultimately, how they take on their responsibilities for their institutions and for their students.

A three-stage analysis of data from two qualitative interviews and a photography exercise was designed to explore the relationship between meaning-making and action logic expression for nine SCAs. In stage one, an analysis of narrative was constructed, coded for meaning-making characteristics, and an action logic hypothesis was formed. In stage two, three methods of triangulation generated additional insights. These included member checking, participant results from the Global Leadership Profile instrument, and an external audit. Finally, a cross-case analysis explored how the action logic expressed was related to meaning-making and specific themes identified from the interviews and literature.

The findings from these participants suggest the presence of a developmental range rather than a fixed action logic expression influencing the exercise of their responsibilities. Additionally, data analysis suggests that the developmental range is partly a function of organizational role. This first finding is inconsistent with previous research, providing a direction for future research. The study proposes a developmental leadership taxonomy that may be present and accounts for the range of actions logics available that could potentially be integrated into their conduct officer roles. This study has implications for training and practice of conduct officers and other student affairs professionals. The study also offers methodological considerations for research at the intersection of leadership, action logics, meaning-making, and human development.

Document Type

Dissertation: Open Access


Leadership Studies