Paper Type

Doctoral Dissertation


College of Education and Human Services

Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership (EdD)


Leadership, School Counseling & Sport Management

NACO controlled Corporate Body

University of North Florida. Department of Leadership, School Counseling & Sports Management

First Advisor

Dr. Warren Hodge

Second Advisor

Dr. Chris Janson

Third Advisor

Dr. Matthew Ohlson

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Lucy Croft

Department Chair

Dr. Elizabeth Gregg

College Dean

Dr. Diane Yendol-Hoppey


The field of student affairs administration could benefit from research on how student affairs administrators perceive their duties, responsibilities, and obligations, as well as how such an understanding could contribute to organizational theory, practice, and policy. The purpose of this study was to examine how administrators in student affairs perceive their role in public higher education institutions in the United States. This study examined SAAs’ duties, obligations, and responsibilities (role) using Q methodology. Although there are perception studies using Q methodology in higher education, there are fewer empirical studies on how SAAs’ perceive their roles. Consequently, this study recruited forty professionals in student affairs from 12 public institutions of higher education. On a continuum from “least important” (-4) to “most important” (+4), they sorted 37 statements that represented their views on SAAs’ duties and responsibilities. The 40 sorts were then factor analyzed with PQMethod 2.33 a, freeware program. Four factors emerged that represent distinct viewpoints on the role of student affairs administrators in public tertiary institutions—Connective Leadership, Instructive Leadership, Supportive Leadership, and Constructive Leadership. These four factors—details of which are presented in the study—indicate that student affairs administrators view their roles through four different leadership lenses, but that each lens is modulated or modified by four major theories—self-perception theory, organizational role theory, and, more importantly, student development theory.