Date Approved


Degree Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)

Department or School

Leadership and Counseling

Committee Member

Ronald Williamson, Ed.D, Chair

Committee Member

David Anderson, Ph.D

Committee Member

Elizabeth Broughton, Ed.D


The primary purpose of this study was to examine the experiences of seven new members of one professional association serving student affairs professionals. The study was a qualitative case study and examined the experiences of seven association members. The researcher collected data through face-to-face interviews, document analysis, and participant observation. The study began with face-to-face interviews of all seven participants. Following the interviews, participants were asked to complete a Critical Incident Form. The researcher spent time in the studied association, acting as a participant observer. Finally, the researcher analyzed a number of documents from the association. The data identified six themes as common to the experiences of participants. These themes included the importance of support, the significance of finding a good fit, perceptions, feelings and reality, connections through networking, focusing on professional growth, and personalization builds commitment.

The findings of this study will advance the body of knowledge in the area of professional association socialization and retention, specifically for new members within a professional association. This study provided a greater understanding of the needs of the new member to one professional association and how a professional association can enhance an individual’s membership through attentive listening to new members.


Additional committee member: Jay Cooper, Ed.D