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A narrative analysis of the process of self-authorship for student affairs graduate students

ProQuest Dissertations and Theses, 2011
Dissertation
Author: Sarah E Schoper
Abstract:
Research on preparation programs for student affairs professionals has focused primarily on identifying competencies. Limited attention has been paid to the process of how meaning is made of preparation program experiences. Of the scholarship conducted, minimal consideration has been paid to the relationship between development and the environment. The purpose of this study was to explore the process of self-authorship for graduate students within a student affairs preparation program, and the environmental conditions that promoted that process. Utilizing narrative inquiry methodology (Clandinin & Connelly, 2000; Lieblich, Tuval-Mashiach, & Zilber, 1998; Marshall & Rossman, 1999; Shank, 2002), data was collected through in-depth interviews of six graduates of a student affairs preparation program meeting the standards set by the Council for the Advancement of Standards (2009), and analyzed using the constant comparative method (Lieblich et al., 1998). The preparation program studied was located at a public research university in the Midwest. The results were considered in relation to constructive-developmental theory (Boes, Baxter Magolda, & Buckley, 2010), self-authorship theory (Baxter Magolda, 2001; Kegan, 1982, 1994), the environment of reference model (Conyne & Clack, 1981), the learning partnerships model (Baxter Magolda, 2004), and transition theory (Schlossberg, Waters, & Goodman, 1995). Results indicated that although movement toward self-authorship was achieved those who graduated had not fully reached self-authorship. The conditions identified that promoted the process of self-authorship included self-reflection and experiencing different perspectives. For example, participation in self-reflection helped participants separate their own meaning from that of others, as well as determine the value of the meaning made. The results also indicated that the participants sought out support within the environment as they experienced transition. Finally, the findings included a description of conditions within the environment that aided the participants in deciding to select the specific preparation program studied. Although the interaction between the environmental conditions and the participants' meaning making systems varied, the findings can be transferred to student affairs preparation program environments, as well as practitioner environments.

Table of Contents

Dedication ................................ ................................ ................................ ................ ii

Acknowledgements ................................ ................................ ................................ . iii

Table of Contents ................................ ................................ ................................ .... v

List of T ables ................................ ................................ ................................ .......... ix

Chapter I: Introduction ................................ ................................ .......................... 1

Theoretical Framework ................................ ................................ ........................... 2

Const ructive - Developmental Theory ................................ .............................. 3

Environmental Conditions ................................ ................................ .............. 5

Purpose of Study ................................ ................................ ................................ ...... 7

Guiding Research Questions ................................ ................................ ........... 7

Research Design ................................ ................................ ................................ ....... 7

Significance of the Study ................................ ................................ ......................... 8

Definition of Terms ................................ ................................ ................................ 10

Summary ................................ ................................ ................................ ................ 11

Chapter II: Literature Review ................................ ................................ .............. 12

Graduate School Programs ................................ ................................ ................... 13

Student Affairs Graduate Programs ................................ ................................ .... 14

Student Affairs Content Areas ................................ ................................ ...... 15

Common Curriculum and CAS Standards and Guidelines ......................... 17

Competencies Versus Process of Learning ................................ ................... 20

Theories On How Meaning Is Made ................................ ................................ ..... 22

Cognitive - Structural Theories ................................ ................................ ....... 22

Piaget ................................ ................................ ................................ .......... 23

Perry ................................ ................................ ................................ ........... 23

Gender and cognitive - structural theories ................................ ................. 24

Ethics and cognitive - structural theories ................................ ................... 25

Contributions from cognitive - structural theories ................................ ..... 25

Constructive - Developmental Theory ................................ ............................ 26

Self - Authorship Theory ................................ ................................ ................. 27

Kegan’s Theory of Self - Authorship ................................ .............................. 28

First order of consciousnes s ................................ ................................ ....... 30

Second order of consciousness ................................ ................................ ... 30

Third order of consciousness ................................ ................................ ..... 32

Fourth order of consciousness ................................ ................................ ... 33

Fifth order of consciousness ................................ ................................ ...... 34

Baxter Magolda’s Theory of Self - Authorship ................................ .............. 35

External formulas ................................ ................................ ...................... 35

The crossroads ................................ ................................ ........................... 36

Becoming the author of one’s own lif e ................................ ...................... 37

The internal foundation ................................ ................................ ............. 38

Self - Authorship Research ................................ ................................ ..................... 40

Unde rgraduate Student Research ................................ ................................ . 40

Graduate Student Research ................................ ................................ .......... 41

vi

Research about Graduate Education in Student Affairs .............................. 43

Environmental Conditions ................................ ................................ .................... 43

Environment of Reference Model ................................ ................................ . 45

Learning Partne rships Model ................................ ................................ ....... 47

LPM in the work environment and student affairs programs ................. 49

Other Environmental Conditions ................................ ................................ .. 50

Transition ................................ ................................ ................................ ....... 51

Why Self - Authorship? ................................ ................................ ........................... 53

Summary ................................ ................................ ................................ ................ 57

Chapter III: Methodology ................................ ................................ ..................... 58

Research Purpose ................................ ................................ ................................ .. 58

Research Design ................................ ................................ ................................ ..... 58

Methodology ................................ ................................ ................................ .......... 59

Sampling Strategy ................................ ................................ .......................... 61

Sampling Criteria for Preparation Program ................................ ................ 62

Selection of preparation program ................................ ............................. 63

Sampling Criteria for Participants ................................ ............................... 64

Sel ection of the participants ................................ ................................ ...... 65

Sample Size ................................ ................................ ................................ .... 66

Data Collection ................................ ................................ ............................... 67

Timeline ................................ ................................ ................................ .......... 69

Data Analysis ................................ ................................ ................................ ......... 70

Criteria of Goodness ................................ ................................ ...................... 72

Credibility ................................ ................................ ................................ .. 74

Transferability ................................ ................................ ........................... 76

Dependability ................................ ................................ ............................. 77

Confirmability ................................ ................................ ............................ 77

Researcher Subjectivity ................................ ................................ ................. 78

Ethical Considerations ................................ ................................ ................... 80

Summary ................................ ................................ ................................ ................ 81

Chapter IV: Findings ................................ ................................ ............................ 82

Process of Self - Authorship Narratives ................................ ................................ .. 82

Anne ................................ ................................ ................................ ....................... 83

Wanting to Pursue Personal Interests ................................ ........................... 89

Personal Interests vs. Self - reflection ................................ ............................. 94

An Internal Shift ................................ ................................ .......................... 105

Moving Out of Following Her Personal Interests ................................ ....... 113

Kelly ................................ ................................ ................................ ..................... 114

Desire to Grow as a Student Affairs Professional ................................ ....... 114

The Assistantship ................................ ................................ ..................... 116

Coursework ................................ ................................ .............................. 119

Working Through New Experiences ................................ ........................... 121

Exploring the Classroom Experience ................................ .......................... 131

Having Others Think Well of Her ................................ ............................... 136

Waiting for Others ................................ ................................ ....................... 141

Micah ................................ ................................ ................................ ................... 142

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Not Responsible for Others ................................ ................................ ......... 153

Change Within His Assistantship ................................ ................................ 157

Confronting Peers ................................ ................................ ........................ 163

Understanding His Responsibility to Others ................................ .............. 168

Responsibility to Others ................................ ................................ .............. 174

Brandon ................................ ................................ ................................ ............... 175

Groupthink ................................ ................................ ................................ .. 186

Groupthink Challenged Through Experiences With Others ..................... 190

Groupthink Challenged Through Self - Reflection ................................ ...... 195

Groupthink Challenged Through Observation ................................ .......... 198

A New Way of Thinkin g ................................ ................................ .............. 201

Moving Out of Groupthink ................................ ................................ ......... 210

Ashley ................................ ................................ ................................ ................... 211

Feeling Unprepared and Challenged ................................ .......................... 214

Asked to share her thoughts ................................ ................................ .... 217

Not fitting in ................................ ................................ ............................. 219

Unclear boundaries ................................ ................................ .................. 222

Feeling Support ................................ ................................ ............................ 226

Others’ Perspectives and Self - Reflection ................................ .................... 229

Ashley’s Change ................................ ................................ ........................... 231

Gaining Confidence ................................ ................................ ..................... 234

Discovering Her Part in the Learning Process ................................ ........... 237

David ................................ ................................ ................................ .................... 238

A Solo Approach ................................ ................................ .......................... 239

Selecting a Student Affairs Preparation Program and Assistantship ........ 241

Self - Reflection ................................ ................................ .............................. 245

Practical Application ................................ ................................ ................... 250

Evaluating New Experiences ................................ ................................ ....... 251

Movement Toward Action ................................ ................................ ........... 2 56

Identifying as a Professional ................................ ................................ ........ 260

Connecting to Past Experiences ................................ ................................ .. 262

Environmental Conditions ................................ ................................ .................. 263

Self - Reflection ................................ ................................ .............................. 264

Experiencing Different Perspectives ................................ ........................... 268

Finding Support ................................ ................................ ........................... 273

Pursuin g personal academic interests ................................ ..................... 273

Seeking external validation ................................ ................................ ...... 274

Seeking others’ help in processing ................................ .......................... 276

Observation ................................ ................................ .............................. 278

Decision to Select the Preparation Program ................................ ....................... 279

Personal Interests ................................ ................................ ......................... 279

Building On Experiences ................................ ................................ ............. 280

Appreciation ................................ ................................ ................................ . 281

Summary ................................ ................................ ................................ .............. 281

Chapter V: Discussion ................................ ................................ ......................... 283

Discussion of the Findings in Relation to the Research Questions .................... 283

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Theoretical Discussion ................................ ................................ ......................... 286

Process of Self - Authorship: Returning to Constructive - Developmental Theory ................................ ................................ ................................ .......... 287

Self - authorship theory. ................................ ................................ ............ 290

First order ................................ ................................ ................................ . 291

Second order or external formulas ................................ ............................ 291

Third order and external formulas . ................................ ........................... 294

The crossroads . ................................ ................................ ......................... 297

Fourth order ................................ ................................ ............................. 299

Authoring one’s life. ................................ ................................ ................. 300

Internal foundation ................................ ................................ ................... 301

Fifth order ................................ ................................ ................................ . 302

Environmental Conditions Promoting the Process of Self - Authorship ..... 302

Environment of reference ................................ ................................ ........ 303

Learning partnerships. ................................ ................................ ............ 306

Transition theory ................................ ................................ ..................... 311

Implications for Practice ................................ ................................ ..................... 313

Implications for Research ................................ ................................ ................... 318

Limitations ................................ ................................ ................................ ........... 320

Strengths ................................ ................................ ................................ .............. 322

Researcher Subjectivity ................................ ................................ ....................... 324

Summary ................................ ................................ ................................ .............. 325

Appendix A: Information Form ................................ ................................ .......... 327

Appendix B: Interview Protocol ................................ ................................ ......... 328

References ................................ ................................ ................................ ............ 331

ix

List of Tables

Ta ble 1: Participant Descriptions ................................ ................................ ......... 66

Table 2: Environment of Reference Model ................................ ........................ 306

Table 3: Learning Partnerships Model ................................ ............................... 311

Table 4: Enviromental Conditions and Transition Factors ............................... 313

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Chapter I: Introduction

Graduate education in the United States began in 1861 when the first Ph.D. was gr anted by Yale University (Council of Graduate Studies, 2008). During the 2008 - 2009 school year, the number of doctoral degrees granted had increased to over 57,000 and the number of master’s degrees was over 503,000 (Bell, 2010). Graduate school is desig ned to prepare individuals for a focused career by providing greater specialization in a specific discipline (Geiger, 2007). For those interested in a career in student affairs, the graduate school experience can include obtaining a master’s degree in Col lege Student Personnel (CSP). College Student Personnel graduate programs have been in existence since 1914 and today total over 130 programs. They may hold names such as student affairs and higher education, educational leadership, and higher education administration, in addition to CSP (ACPA, 2009). For the purposes of this study, the title student affairs preparation program was used.

Student affairs master’s programs offer a variety of courses including the history of higher education, student devel opment theory, and legal issues in higher education. Although there is no set specific curriculum each program is required to offer, there are standards promoted by the Council for the Advancement of Standards in Higher Education (CAS), which is an organi zation representing a variety of higher education associations (CAS, 2009). Standards are also offered in, The Book for Professional Standards in Higher Education (CAS, 2009), and the Association for the Study of Higher Education (2010) offers guidelines for preparation programs. Regardless of which standards or guidelines are selected, there is no mechanism to assure that student affairs preparation programs are adhering to the standards

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(Komives, 1998). In addition to these standards and guidelines, wi thin the field of student affairs, many researchers have studied the competencies necessary for success as student affairs professionals. One of the most recent lists of competencies suggests ten competency areas ranging from advising and helping to ethic al professional practice to student learning and development (ACPA & NASPA, 2010).

Although providing guidelines and listing competencies is helpful for determining what the content of student affairs program curricula should be, and for generating ideas as to what the structure of the student affairs program should look like, little attention has been paid to the process of how individuals learn while in these programs. Of the limited research that has been done, it suggests that graduate school is a po tentially powerful time in regard to the complexity with which students are processing their graduate program experiences (Baxter Magolda, 2001; Quaye, 2007; Rogers, Magolda, Baxter Magolda, & Knight - Abowitz, 2004). In an effort to add to the research, th is study examined how graduate students made meaning of their graduate school experiences and the environmental conditions that promoted the process of making meaning.

Theoretical Framework

A combination of theories shaped this study. Constructive - devel opmental theory, specifically Kegan (1982, 1994) and Baxter Magolda’s (2001) self - authorship theories guided the formation of the research questions and the data collection and analysis. Specifically, constructive - developmental theory includes exploring t he intrapersonal dimension, an internally generated belief system, the interpersonal dimension, the way in which one sees oneself in relation to others, and the cognitive

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dimension, how one makes sense of information. In constructive - developmental theorie s, each of the three dimensions, cognitive, interpersonal, and intrapersonal, evolve over time from simple to complex, and individuals, to make meaning of their experiences, continually use all three.

An additional theory used in this study was Conyne an d Clack’s (1981) environment of reference model. Although not used as a foundation for the data collection process, Conyne and Clack’s model did provide structure to the exploration of conditions within the environment that promoted the development of sel f - authorship. The model consists of three components, physical, social, and institutional, as well as the interactions between the components. Strange and Banning’s (2001) campus design, Baxter Magolda’s (2004) learning partnerships model, as well as Sch lossberg, Waters, and Goodman’s (1995) transition theory were also used in the data analysis process. Strange and Banning’s design was used to expand the definition of Conyne and Clack’s original model components, while both Baxter Magolda’s learning part nerships model offered understanding as to the relationships between the environmental conditions that surfaced and the cognitive, interpersonal, and intrapersonal dimensions. Finally, Schlossberg et al.,’s (1995) transition theory offered meaning to the various roles of the environmental conditions. Each of these theories provided the framework for this study to explore how participants made meaning of their student affairs program experiences.

Constructive - Developmental Theory

Constructive - development al theory allows for the exploration of the cognitive, interpersonal, and intrapersonal dimensions within the structure individuals use to

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make meaning. Individuals use both of these dimensions to gather information and then process it through the cogniti ve, interpersonal, and intrapersonal dimensions as part of a single mental activity to make meaning (Baxter Magolda, 2001). As individuals experience dissonance in how they make meaning, each of the three dimensions evolves thereby creating greater comple xity in how meaning is made.

Both Kegan (1982, 1994) and Baxter Magolda’s (2001) theories are constructive - developmental theories. Kegan’s theory proposed that individuals begin making meaning at birth and continue to make meaning until death. Baxter Ma golda’s research examined individuals in the college years and beyond. Both Kegan and Baxter Magolda identified an evolutionary status that individuals’ meaning making structures can reach. In this evolutionary status individuals use the three dimensions in such a way that they interact with the world using their own internal value and belief system, which in turn allows them to author for themselves the interactions they have with the world around them. This evolutionary status is called self - authorship , and development toward it was a primary assumption of this study. Both Kegan and Baxter Magolda (1992, 2001, 2009) defined self - authorship as a phase of development in which individuals are able to holistically make meaning. It is characterized by inte rnally, rather then externally, defining one’s beliefs, values, and internal loyalties. Individuals who are self - authored are able to take internal responsibility for their thoughts, actions, feelings, and are able to reflect on and accept contradictory f eelings (Boes, Baxter Magolda, & Buckley, 2010).

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Environmental Conditions

Early on, many development theorists (Evans, Forney, Guido, Patton, & Renn, 2009) paid little attention to the environment; instead they focused primarily on the internal developm ental processes of the individuals. It was not until the 1970s that the interaction between campuses and students was identified (Aulepp & Delworth, 1976; Banning, 1978; Banning & Kaiser, 1974; Huebner, 1979). Several themes of these theories include (St range & Banning, 2001):

campus environments contain elements that connect to students’ sense making

students shape campus environments just as campus environments shape students

students are able to make choices about the environmental influences

each s tudent has the capacity for a wide range of behaviors and environments should be intentionally shaped to promote development

students will try to cope with any campus environment within which they find themselves

given the differences among students, the c ampus environment must contain a variety of sub - environments to connect to all students

every campus has a design even if not outwardly planned or known

to successfully design a campus environment, input must be gathered from all agents that interact with the campus environment.

Conyne and Clack (1981) offer an environment of reference model that corresponds to, and served as a foundation for the above themes. Conyne and Clack’s model was

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used within this study for the purposes of offering structure to th e environmental conditions that promoted the development of self - authorship.

Conyne and Clack (1981)’s model is based on a broad definition of the environment and is composed of three components and factor. This study used Strange and Banning’s (2001) c ampus design to inform the definition of the components within Conyne and Clack’s model broadening the components of the environment even more. The three components are: physical, including both natural and built pieces; social, which are the people and t heir relationships; and institutional, or laws and policies. Conyne and Clack labeled the interaction of the components with each other as the effect components.

For this study, the environment of reference model helped identify where in the environment the conditions that promoted the process of self - authorship were found. These conditions were then explored for their connection to the meaning making structure through the use of the learning partnerships model (Baxter Magolda, 2004). The LPM is a set of three assumptions and three principles designed intentionally to connect to the cognitive, interpersonal, and intrapersonal dimensions of development so as to promote the process of self - authorship. Finally, Schlossberg et al.’s (1995) transition theor y helped to understand the environmental conditions that surfaced as the participants experienced transition. Schlossberg et al.’s transition theory reflects the transition process from an individual’s perspective as he or she experiences change. Althoug h the environment of reference model, the learning partnerships model, and transition theory all aided in the exploration of the environmental conditions, the conditions themselves surfaced from the data.

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Purpose of Study

The purpose of this study was to examine how graduate students made sense of their graduate school experiences and to identify what in the graduate school environment fostered their meaning making experiences. More specifically, graduate students who attended a student affairs preparati on program were the focus of this study. Finally, how student affairs graduate students made sense of their graduate school experience in regard to the process of self - authorship grounded the study in the assumption that individuals are on a trajectory le ading to complexity regarding how they make meaning and that the development of self - authorship is a place on that trajectory. The study was also conducted with the assumption that the graduate school environment may influence where graduates of a student affairs preparation program are on the trajectory.

Guiding Research Questions

The following two research questions guided this study:

(1) What is the process of self - authorship for graduate students in a student affairs master’s program?

(2) What are the environmental conditions that promote self - authorship for

graduate students in a student affairs master’s program?

Research Design

The epistemological assumptions that guided this study are constructivist. A constructivist epistemology presumes that the self is central to knowledge construction (Baxter Magolda, 2001, 2009), that multiple realities exist, and that these realities are context bound (Lincoln & Guba, 2000). Constructivism was a proper fit

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for this study because it allowed for a focus on how individuals use their personal experiences, beliefs, and assumptions to make meaning of their graduate program experience.

The methodology that was used in this study was narrative inquiry, which suited the study because the focus was on individual meaning - making. Narrative inquiry allows participants to share their experience in narrative form and for the exploration of the wholeness of experience from the participant’s view (Clandinin & Connelly, 2000; Lieblich, Tuval - Mashiach, & Zilber, 1998; Ma rshall & Rossman, 1999; Shank, 2002). The narratives used in this study were gathered through three semi - structured, in - depth, interviews (Baxter Magolda & King, 2007). The approach to narrative analysis was the categorical - content approach (Lieblich et al., 1998). This approach used the constant comparative method for data analysis, which included identifying and exploring themes within and across each of the narratives. These themes were then used to compose not only the narratives of each participant

but also the primary story that transcended all of the individual narratives. More detail about this study’s research design is found within Chapter Three.

Significance of the Study

This study contributed to the literature and field of student affairs significantly in three ways. First, this study contributed to the research on graduate preparation for student affairs professionals by providing insight into the process of how graduate students are making sense of their graduate school experiences. Thi s is significant because practitioners and researchers have offered numerous competency or knowledge areas necessary for student affairs professionals but have paid little

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attention to how those competency or knowledge areas are being understood by individ uals within graduate school. Insight into how competency areas are being learned is important because many of the competency areas themselves are multifaceted and therefore require complex meaning to be made. For example, multicultural competency is not as simple as just focusing on understanding how an individual sees oneself, but also includes understanding the systems of oppression that function in society, and how to make responsible decisions as a student affairs practitioner to overcome those system s (Pope & Mueller, 2011; Pope, Reynolds, & Mueller, 2004). Understanding how individuals within graduate programs are making meaning of this and other competency areas can provide insight into what structures are needed within the environment to encourage complex understanding.

Second, this study provides empirical evidence related to self - authorship at the graduate student level. Of the studies on self - authorship that have been conducted, most focus on undergraduate students (Abes & Jones, 2004; Abe s & Kasch, 2007; Creamer & Laughlin, 2005; Pizzolato, 2003, 2004, 2005; Torres, 2009; Torres & Hernandez, 2007 ). Of those that have included graduate students, either the studies were not intentionally designed to explore only the graduate student experie nce (Baxter Magolda, 2001, 2004) or focus only on doctoral students (Jones, 2009).

Finally, in 1986 Moos concluded that the, “arrangement of environments is perhaps the most powerful technique we have for influencing human behavior” (p. 4). If specific e nvironmental conditions within student affairs graduate programs are found to promote self - authorship, then those conditions can potentially transfer to

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other graduate experiences. Educators who acquire a more sophisticated understanding of human environm ents, “will be better positioned to eliminate those features of institutions that are needlessly stressful or uninhibiting, and ultimately, to create those features that will challenge students toward active learning, growth, and development” (Strange & Ba nning, 2001, p. 4). In today’s ever - changing world, achieving self - authorship is necessary. Self - authorship allows an individual the opportunity to learn how to learn for him or herself rather than concentrating on what to learn (Baxter Magolda, 2009). Individuals who are self - authored can critically analyze information, disagree respectfully, no longer fear other’s reactions, and make responsible choices (Baxter Magolda, 2009). All of these are skills are necessary to navigate successfully the professi on of student affairs, as well as life (American College Personnel Association & National Association of Student Personnel Administrators, 2004).

Definition of Terms

Several terms are used throughout the study for which it would be helpful to establish a definition. The first is to establish what is meant by meaning - making structure. My use of meaning - making structures

is grounded in Kegan’s (1982, 1994) and Baxter Magolda’s (2001) constructive - developmental theories of self - authorship. A meaning - maki ng structure refers to the principles around which individuals organize their thinking and feeling. These principles are established through experiences in which individuals learn how the world works (Hodge, Baxter Magolda, & Haynes, 2009). The meaning - m aking structure is then used to interpret or new experiences, and when experiences are encountered that cannot be understood,

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the principles that compose the meaning making structure adjust and evolve. In this sense, a meaning - making structure does not re fer to the content of the meaning made, but rather the process of how the meaning is made. So, when a participant is said to be making meaning, attention is called to the structure with which the participant is making meaning.

The second term to be de fined is that of a student affairs preparation program. Within this study, the term “student affairs preparation program” refers to a master’s - level, two - year student affairs program that meets the professional preparation standards set forth by the Counc il for the Advancement of Standards (2009).

Full document contains 364 pages
Abstract: Research on preparation programs for student affairs professionals has focused primarily on identifying competencies. Limited attention has been paid to the process of how meaning is made of preparation program experiences. Of the scholarship conducted, minimal consideration has been paid to the relationship between development and the environment. The purpose of this study was to explore the process of self-authorship for graduate students within a student affairs preparation program, and the environmental conditions that promoted that process. Utilizing narrative inquiry methodology (Clandinin & Connelly, 2000; Lieblich, Tuval-Mashiach, & Zilber, 1998; Marshall & Rossman, 1999; Shank, 2002), data was collected through in-depth interviews of six graduates of a student affairs preparation program meeting the standards set by the Council for the Advancement of Standards (2009), and analyzed using the constant comparative method (Lieblich et al., 1998). The preparation program studied was located at a public research university in the Midwest. The results were considered in relation to constructive-developmental theory (Boes, Baxter Magolda, & Buckley, 2010), self-authorship theory (Baxter Magolda, 2001; Kegan, 1982, 1994), the environment of reference model (Conyne & Clack, 1981), the learning partnerships model (Baxter Magolda, 2004), and transition theory (Schlossberg, Waters, & Goodman, 1995). Results indicated that although movement toward self-authorship was achieved those who graduated had not fully reached self-authorship. The conditions identified that promoted the process of self-authorship included self-reflection and experiencing different perspectives. For example, participation in self-reflection helped participants separate their own meaning from that of others, as well as determine the value of the meaning made. The results also indicated that the participants sought out support within the environment as they experienced transition. Finally, the findings included a description of conditions within the environment that aided the participants in deciding to select the specific preparation program studied. Although the interaction between the environmental conditions and the participants' meaning making systems varied, the findings can be transferred to student affairs preparation program environments, as well as practitioner environments.