• Manager in the Middle: A View of Strategic Planning in Higher Education from the Middle Management Perspective

      Flanders, Kimberly Sharron; Tift College of Education
      Strategic planning is a process that can assist institutions in responding to and preparing for the myriad changes in higher education; however, a lack of communication and other challenges can hinder institutions’ ability to effectively engage in the process. Because middle managers serve as liaisons between organizational leadership and front-line staff, this transcendental phenomenological investigation sought to understand the experiences of middle managers in the strategic planning process through the lens of path-goal theory. Criterion and snowball sampling were used to identify twelve middle managers to participate in semi-structured, topical interviews. The data were analyzed utilizing the modified Van Kaam method of analysis of phenomenological data to develop a description of the phenomenon. Findings from this investigation indicated that middle managers experienced strategic planning as a top-down process implemented with a team approach and the goal of benefiting students and the institution. The participants shared that they would like to be included in strategic planning discussions early in the process to help shape institutional priorities and actions based on their experiences with students, parents, and other stakeholders. Additionally, the participants agreed that their teams should be included in the strategic planning process to garner more buy-in and to provide a robust breadth of knowledge and experience in the discussions. The middle managers in this study also noted that the attitude of the leadership and support from an institutional research, or similar, office impacted their experience with the strategic planning process. Strategic planning leaders can utilize the information gleaned from this study to more effectively engage middle managers in the process, such as by providing trainings and early involvement. Future research in this area should study middle managers working at different types of institutions and should include more faculty participants.
    • Masculinity Perception and Motivational Influences on Male Students' Higher Education Academic Success

      Hallman, Jeff H.; Tift College of Education
      Male higher education students are expected to account for only 40% of the total college and university enrollment and only 40% of the total students who graduate with at least a baccalaureate degree by 2026. The disparity gap trend that began in 1981 has been widening since that year. The level of educational attainment has future consequences to the financial stability and employability that influences skilled, labor-based economies and marriage and childbearing structures. The problem addressed by this study was the declining rate of male undergraduate student educational success. This research sought to determine if there is a relationship between male students’ perceptions of their masculinity, academic motivation, and success at a specific higher education institution. Social role theory, personal construct theory, and self-determination theory served as the conceptual framework to understand if male students’ perceptions of their masculinity influence their higher education decisions and success. A mixed-methods, simultaneous explanatory methodology was utilized to attempt to discover possible links to male students’ academic success. During the Spring 2020 semester, 76 male full-time undergraduate students at a southeastern U.S. university with a relatively lower male student graduation rate responded to an anonymous questionnaire. Findings identified two primary factors that previous researchers suspected may be influencing the educational experience of male students. First, male students who see themselves as traditionally masculine or experience pressure to conform to traditional masculinity ideology are less likely to experience academic success. Second, amotivation is a key influencer of academic success among male undergraduate students. Discoveries such as those found in this study inform and influence higher education leaders, who should consider the contributing factors for declining success of all students and provide interventions and programs. Higher education personnel should assist male students with convolving the conflicting influences surrounding their masculinity and promote the lifelong benefits associated with academic success. Future studies should expand the institutions sampled in the study to determine if geography influences masculinity perceptions and attempt to focus on which aspects of traditional masculinity ideology are most predominate and contributory.
    • Persistence as Resistance: A Phenomenological Narrative Analysis of the Africultural Coping and Motivational Strategies of African American College Students

      Scott, Miraca Joann; Tift College of Education
      Despite decades of institutional efforts to mitigate African American college student first-year attrition, this population continues to have the lowest graduation rates compared to other races and ethnicities (National Center for Education Statistics, 2021). Historically, the collegiate first and fourth years have received more attention from student success researchers due to their direct connection to institutional enrollment and graduation rates (Gahagan & Hunter, 2006); however, more recent research has indicated that the collegiate sophomore year poses the most significant threat to student retention and graduation rates (Perez, 2020). This qualitative study explored how racial-cultural identity salience, culture-specific coping behaviors, and motivation influenced how Afrocentric African American college students avoided college departure to persist to junior year successfully. Framed within an Afrocentric theoretical framework, a phenomenological narrative methodology was employed to assess students’ perceptions of which coping behaviors and motivational factors helped them overcome challenges experienced during their sophomore year at a southern public, four-year predominantly white institution. Six participants were recruited using criterion and snowball sampling techniques. Data analysis revealed 22 subthemes which were consolidated into six emergent themes: 1) Achievement-oriented Motivation, 2) Soundproofing, 3) Centripetal Autonomy, 4) Centripetal Grouping, 5) Self-Care, and 6) Self-Monitoring. Findings suggest an inextricable link between Black sophomores’ need for intraracial connection, the salience of their racial and cultural identity as African American or Black, and their community-centered motivations for persevering during their sophomore year. Implications for practice include establishing wrap-around support for African American sophomore students, championing and amplifying Black sophomore voices, and integrating culturally-aligned theory into higher education policy. For a representative body of literature, researchers are encouraged to abandon using theoretical models that embody Euro-American values when studying Black students. Implications of this study suggest future studies should be positioned using an Afrocentric theoretical framework to illuminate the needs of African American students.
    • Protecting Our Moms: An Investigation of Workplace Incivility and Job Satisfaction for Mothers Working in Student Affairs

      Swanger, Stefanie; Tift College of Education
      Research indicates that workplace incivility affects the higher education workplace and has been shown to reduce job satisfaction. Existing literature on these two variables focuses heavily on academic faculty, failing to investigate this trend for student affairs staff members. Additional evidence points to motherhood bias at work, which often presents itself as harsh performance reviews, missed opportunities for promotion, and reduced wages. This is exceptionally problematic for the student affairs field in which women represent almost three-quarters of student affairs employees. This study investigated the correlation between workplace incivility and job satisfaction for mothers working in student affairs using One-way ANOVA and independent samples t-tests. Five hundred and eighty-four student affairs mothers participated in the study and completed the Job Satisfaction Survey (JSS) and Workplace Incivility Scale (WIS). The results of this study indicate that mothers working in student affairs express the highest levels of job satisfaction with the nature of the work, supervision, and coworkers, while expressing the lowest levels of satisfaction with pay and promotion potential. Compared to historical data, student affairs moms expressed the lowest levels of job satisfaction versus higher education workers and United States all industry workers. Concerning workplace incivility, 95% of student affairs mothers had experienced at least one uncivil act at work in the preceding 12 months, while 17 % had experienced all seven types of workplace incivility. Additionally, participants who had experienced workplace incivility demonstrated a statistically significant reduction in overall job satisfaction and satisfaction in each of the nine JSS subscales. This study presents a call to action for administrators to develop policies and procedures for addressing uncivil acts in the workplace directed toward student affairs mothers, while urging mothers to report such acts through the appropriate channels. Future research should focus on greater participant diversity and additional demographics to understand the relationship between workplace incivility and job satisfaction based on institution type, and participant degree levels, job titles, and wages. Additionally, investigation of these two variables along with attrition and turnover intentions may provide the field a greater understanding of the impact of workplace incivility for student affairs mothers.