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Interrupting Attrition of Entry-Level Live-In Professionals in Residence Life: With Restorative Justice Circles

Perkins, Jr., Dennis James (2022) Interrupting Attrition of Entry-Level Live-In Professionals in Residence Life: With Restorative Justice Circles. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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Entry-level student affairs professionals play a significant and influential role in the growth and development of college students. Despite the value of these entry-level professionals, attrition from the student affairs profession is a pressing issue (Renn & Jessup-Anger, 2008), primarily because 55% of student affairs professionals leave the field of student affairs within the first five years (Lorden, 1998; Tull, 2006). The purpose of this improvement science qualitative research study, set in a small liberal arts’ residential college in the Midwest, was to examine the attitudes that live-in professional staff within Student Affairs and Residence Life have toward leaving their post within five years. This study focused on the role of live-in professional staff; why they leave their post so soon if Restorative Justice circles can contribute to reducing overall attrition. The main findings of this study suggest that entry-level professionals are no longer satisfied with the altruistic values used to bring new professionals into the field. They are craving opportunities to feel included, connected, and part of a team where they can be seen and have their voices heard. Live-in staff face multiple stress factors associated with their role on campus (Barr, 2014). Higher stress levels have resulted from an ineffective on-call system, the lack of after-hours help from campus offices, a lack of appreciation from campus partners, mental health crises from students, and a missing investment in their well-being. Restorative Justice circles were used to mitigate feelings of despair and attrition from the live-in staff. The findings of Restorative Justice circles suggest they were a success in providing an outlet for staff to express themselves, build trust among their peers, and feel recognition and appreciation as a Residence Life group. Although restorative justice circles can help small groups feel valued, have a sense of value, and be listened to and heard, they do not address the more important systemic problems that plague student affairs, and additional work is needed to address these bigger concerns. This inquiry provides a recommendation for future research and practice to continue to tackle the systemic issues of entry-level professionals and attrition.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Perkins, Jr., Dennis Jamesdjp99@pitt.edudjp99
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairDeAngelo, Lindadeangelo@pitt.edudeangelo0000-0002-8508-5909
Committee MemberGunzenhauser, Michaelmgunzen@pitt.edumgunzen
Committee MemberHughey,
Date: 6 September 2022
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 9 June 2022
Approval Date: 6 September 2022
Submission Date: 12 August 2022
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 116
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: School of Education > Administrative and Policy Studies
Degree: EdD - Doctor of Education
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: Attrition, Entry-level staff, Hall Directors, Live-in Staff, Dorms, Residence Halls, Entry-level professionals
Date Deposited: 06 Sep 2022 16:37
Last Modified: 06 Sep 2022 16:37


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