The purpose of this phenomenological study was to explore the leadership experiences of new professionals serving in entry-level roles in residence life and how those experiences with leadership theory may intersect with their leadership identity development. Guided by Komives et al.'s (2005) Leadership Identity Development Model, this qualitative inquiry gathered data through in-depth, semi-structured interviews with a sample of twelve new professionals presently serving in entry-level residence life roles at four-year institutions across the United States. Three research questions drove this study: (a) how do new professionals serving in entry-level residence life roles describe their leadership experiences; (b) what challenges, if any, do new professionals in entry-level residence life positions experience as they develop and practice leadership in the context of their workplace; and, (c) How do new residence life professionals utilize formal leadership theory as they experience leadership within the context of their entry-level position? Following data collection and transcription, a simplified version of the Moustakas (1994) approach to the Stevick-Colaizzi-Keen method for phenomenological analysis developed by Creswell & Poth (2018) was employed to analyze the dataset. Seven themes emerged from the analysis of the data: (a) leadership is a necessary and expected skill; (b) preference toward a developmental approach to leadership; (c) experiential learning; learning from supervisors, mentors, and role models; (d) challenges navigating new organizational structure, culture, and role expectations; (e) difficulty developing a professional leader identity and skillset; (f) and non-prescriptive, informal utilization of theory. Discussion of the findings in relation to the relevant literature, their implications, and recommendations for future research are provided.
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Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)
College of Community Innovation and Education
Educational Leadership and Higher Education
Educational Leadership; Higher Education Track
Length of Campus-only Access
Doctoral Dissertation (Campus-only Access)
Cooke, Bryce, "An Investigation on Entry-Level Leadership Identity Development in Residence Life" (2021). Electronic Theses and Dissertations, 2020-. 667.
Restricted to the UCF community until August 2024; it will then be open access.