The Supervisor's Role in Optimizing the Resident Assistant Work Experience

Connors, Karen, Higher Education - Curry School of Education, University of Virginia
Inkelas, Karen, Curry School of Education, University of Virginia

Many colleges and universities provide part-time employment opportunities for students and one of the most common places to find student employees is in Housing or Residence Life (Dodge, 1990; McCormick, Moore, & Kuh, 2010; Schaller & Wagner, 2007). The Resident Assistant or Adviser (RA) “has become ubiquitous on many residential campuses” (Schaller & Wagner, 2007). This is study grounded in Deci and Ryan’s (1985, 2000) self-determined motivation theory (SDT) and the subset basic needs satisfaction theory. Applying multiphase mixed methods, this capstone aims to better understand the supervision needs of RAs and to inform practice for supervisors of residence life student employees. Supervisory needs reported by RAs were compared to what supervisors believed their RAs felt were the most important supervision needs. In addition, this study investigated the extent to which a training workshop for HDs based on Self-Determination Theory influenced HDs’ supervision motivation orientation. Finally, this study examined the relationship between HD motivation orientation and RA perceived needs satisfaction at work and in the relationship with their supervisor. Consistent with previous literature, the findings suggest RAs who perceived a higher satisfaction at work with also perceived a higher satisfaction in the relationship with their HD. After training, of those HDs who changed their motivation orientation, more tended to shift from autonomy-supportive to controlling than the other way around. This study contributes to the literature about RAs, HDs, and self-determined motivation in college student employment, which is applicable to both practitioners and researchers.

EDD (Doctor of Education)
RA, resident assistant, resident adviser, hall director, HD, residence life, supervision, Q-sort, qualitative, quantitative, SDT, self-determination theory, basic needs satisfaction theory, deci, ryan, student affairs, higher education, college, university, autonomy, competence, relatedness, motivation
All rights reserved (no additional license for public reuse)
Issued Date: