Baxter Magolda's theory of self-authorship development as a decision making model for new student affairs professionals
Accepting one's first professional position in student affairs brings with it many questions, concerns, and emotions. Those questions, concerns, and emotions revolve around issues of personal competence, personal achievement, new relationships with new co-workers, and personal job satisfaction according to Barr (1985). Each new professional will undoubtedly encounter a wide array of problems, concerns, and victories during their transition into a full-time student affairs position, ebbing and flowing between joy and frustration, with a fair amount of time spent in feelings of anxiety (Barr, 1985). During this time professionals start to wonder if they are administrators or educators, service delivery personnel or program sponsors, academic support providers or co-curricular developers.
Encountering new experiences helps to shape who we are and will become as student affairs professionals. Kirby (1984, p. 28) says that this time becomes a "time for developing a high tolerance for ambiguity" and the attitude of the new professional needs to be "one of adaptability and flexibility" (Moore, 1984, p. 69). Baxter Magolda (2001) identifies this time as a time of self-authorship development. Barr (1985) suggests that this process of development involves obtaining and using needed information to perform one's job, establish expectations for performance, putting what was learned in the classroom into practice, finding one's place in the new culture, establishing positive relationships with students and co-workers, and continuing to grow as a professional. Self-authorship makes us better professionals and more effective in our dealings with others as we begin to understand our own personal traits and characteristics.
This dissertation will examine the concept of self-authorship development (Baxter Magolda, 2001) in the life of a new student affairs professional transitioning from full-time student in a doctoral program to full-time professional. Self-authorship more fully defined is a theory of psychosocial development that involves four distinct phases that an individual transitions through: (a) following external formulas, (b) the crossroads, (c) becoming the author of one's own life, and (d) internal foundations (Baxter Magolda, 2001). This study will also explore the possibility of Baxter Magolda's theory of self-authorship development being used as a decision making model.