Theses Doctoral

Student Affairs Professionals and Their Perception and Learning of Technology Usage in a COVID-19 World

Cho, Anna

The purpose of this research was to explore the perceptions of student affairs administrators, working in both public and private higher education institutions, regarding how they learned to use technology and gain insight into how their work would evolve in the future. While the COVID-19 pandemic affected everyone in the higher education landscape—academic faculty, students, and student administrative professionals—this research focused specifically on a segment of administrative professionals within higher education institutions: student affairs professionals.

The results of the study provide recommendations to higher education institutions and student affair professionals and how to work in a technologically evolving workplace. The researcher based the study on the three assumptions: (1) informal and incidental learning are key factors in growing the skills to learn the evolving technologies in the workplace; (2) higher-order thinking skills exist in student affairs professionals who went beyond transferring the in-person modality to online; (3) organizational competencies or ethical competencies in digital leadership skills existed in student affairs professionals who went beyond demonstrating technological competencies skills The study population were student affairs professionals who worked during COVID-19. Data sources were primarily through 12 individual interviews, all conducted via Zoom, critical incident reports, and documents.

Key findings of the study revealed: (1) A strong majority of participants described the use of technology as having a significant communication platform; (2) A majority of participants indicated that the lack of user engagement was a challenge while using technology; (3) An overwhelming majority learn to overcome the challenge of using technology through peer conversation; and (4) A majority of participants stated that having a supportive leader influenced the use of technology.

The main recommendations of the study were the following: (1) Higher education institutions should think of creating the space and opportunities for student affairs professionals to engage in conversation with one another to overcome the challenges of using technology. To develop the space, higher education climate and organizational culture around the perception of technology must be considered. Additionally, higher education institutions should invest in developing supportive leaders who have a positive perception of technology in the workplace; and (2) Student affairs professionals should not only learn to be open about using technology in the workplace, but also develop the inter-personal skills that is critical to overcoming the use of technology. For seasoned student affairs professionals who hope to become a leader within the institution, developing the leadership skills to become a supportive leader who has the technological and inter-personal skills is critical to better manage and lead their team.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Organization and Leadership
Thesis Advisors
Volpe, Marie
Ed.D., Teachers College, Columbia University
Published Here
June 5, 2024