Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Legacy Department

Educational Leadership


Cawthon, Tony

Committee Member

Gonzales, Leslie


The purpose of this research study was to examine the role of the senior student affairs officer (SSAO) in promoting assessment practice within the Division of Student Life at Randal University. A qualitative, single-case study research design was employed to conduct this study. The case for this investigation was the Vice President for Student Life at Randal University. Randal University is a private, liberal arts college located in the southeastern United States with an approximate enrollment of 2700 students. Data for this study was comprised of interviews, documents, and researcher notes. Fifteen Randal University employees participated in this qualitative case study. Semi-structured, in-person interviews were conducted on the university campus. Data analysis was completed through a four phase process: (a) organizing and preparing data for analysis; (b) coding of data set; (c) interrelating themes/descriptions; and (d) data interpretation (Creswell, 2009). NVivo 10 was utilized to facilitate the organization and analysis of the data. Analysis of the data revealed that the participants perceived the SSAO as the spearhead of the assessment culture in the division. Three themes emerged from the data as the participants described how the SSAO promoted assessment practice in the division: (a) ready the organization for evolution, (b) establish a supportive organizational infrastructure, and (c) utilize assessment data to inform practice. Data analysis also revealed three behavioral characteristics of the Vice President for Student Life that supported her efforts in promoting a culture of assessment: (a) relationship builder, (b) avid learner, and (c) strategic planner. This study provided new insight regarding the strategies utilized by the SSAO in promoting the practice of assessment in student affairs divisions. Key behavioral characteristics of the SSAO imperative to building and sustaining a culture of assessment were also identified. Implications for practice and recommendations for future research were also presented.

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