Date of Award


Degree Name

PhD Leadership Studies

Dissertation Committee

Cheryl A. Getz, EdD, Chair; Marilee Bresciani, PhD, Member; Roxanne Ruzic, EdD, Member


administrators, advisor characteristics, advising strategies, Cognitive complexity, Cross-case analysis, gender, Grounded theory, higher education, independence, Leadership studies, mentoring, new Student Affairs professionals, Self-authorship theory, Student Affairs Masters programs, young adults


Self-authorship, a theory developed by Robert Kegan (1982) and applied to college students by Marcia Baxter Magolda, is the ability to internally define one's own beliefs, identity, and relationships (Baxter Magolda, 2001). People who self-author have the ability to make career, academic, relationship, and life decisions that take into consideration their own internal voice rather than relying on others' advice. The development of self-authorship has been correlated with gains in key learning outcomes, such as cognitive complexity and independence (Baxter Magolda, 2001; Pizzolato, 2008; Pizzolato & Ozaki, 2007). Achievement of self-authorship does not typically occur until after college, when young adults face increased life challenges and have fewer supports (Baxter Magolda, 2001). However, research indicates that it may be possible for mentoring relationships between students and campus administrators to serve as a primary vehicle for promoting self-authorship during college (Baxter Magolda, 2001; Daloz Parks, 2000; Hodge, Baxter Magolda, & Haynes, 2009; Pizzolato 2005; Pizzolato & Ozaki, 2007). New student affairs professionals, who tend to work most directly with students, have the potential to advise in ways that promote self-authorship. The purpose of this study was to explore characteristics of new student affairs professionals (age, gender, education, and new professionals' stage of self-authorship), and their advising approaches with undergraduate students. Twelve new student affairs professionals participated in semi-structured interviews and submitted journal entries about their advising experiences with students. Grounded theory coding, a coding scheme based on existing literature, and within-case and cross-case analysis were used to analyze the data, and several themes emerged. New professionals who were themselves in late stages of self-authorship development used a greater number and broader range of strategies promoting self-authorship, and those in earlier stages of self-authorship development gave more concrete direction and instruction to students. Women tended to use more supportive advising strategies, while men tended to use more challenging approaches. Those who attended student affairs masters programs used more challenging advising approaches than those who did not. These findings may inform the ways supervisors, graduate preparation programs, and mentors support the development of new professionals and the college students with whom they work.

Document Type

Dissertation: Open Access


Leadership Studies