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Values of Canadian Student Affairs Practitioners

Abstract: This study explores what a selection of Canadian student affairs practitioners saw as the role of their work, the values they brought to it, and values conflicts they encountered. All of these are personal, and all depend on each individual’s experience. Through this exploration, a construction of roles, values and values conflicts was built and confirmed with the participants. Using constructivist methodology, participants were purposively selected based on their contributions to the field of Canadian student affairs, and were interviewed about their role, values and values conflicts. Using inductive data analysis, a framework of categories was constructed from the interviews, and then member checks through re-interviews were conducted to verify that the framework reflected participants’ values and experiences. Constructivism focuses on social reality; the experiences and thoughts of the participants are paramount. Constructivism builds connections between different personal realities and positions, in order to elucidate people’s behaviours and motivations. Participants saw their role as student affairs practitioners to create a learning environment and to support the academic mission of their institution; to provide expertise on student issues; to be advocates with and on behalf of students; and to provide support to individual students. Participants’ values were honesty, integrity and authenticity; having a balance of fairness and consistency with care and empathy; student-centredness; valuing the student voice; having a commitment to equity and social justice; being dedicated to student affairs work; and engaging in lifelong learning and self-improvement. Participants identified that conflicts between values arose in situations related to the overall campus environment; policy and decision-making; interactions with students; and personal aspects of their work. The construction presented in this thesis is intended to be a starting point for further discussion about Canadian student affairs values and practices. As there is little research to date on Canadian student affairs, the study offers an illustration of what practitioners who are involved in the field consider important in their role, what their values are, and the challenges that can arise from holding those values.

Author: Vanda Wenona Harvey (Nona) Robinson

Source: University of Toronto - TSpace

Size: 734.02 KB
Last Updated: July 31, 2015