A Conceptual Model of Professional Socialization within Student Affairs Graduate Preparation Programs

Rosemary J Perez
Journal for the Study of Postsecondary and Tertiary Education  •  Volume 1  •  2016  •  pp. 035-052
Prior research exploring professional socialization in student affairs has been grounded in models that do not fully capture the distinct features of the field. Moreover, these studies have primarily focused on the transition into full-time work positions, and they have captured what happens to new professionals rather than how individuals understand their socialization experiences. With these gaps in mind, this conceptual paper presents a new model of professional socialization in student affairs graduate preparation programs that draws upon literature in the helping professions (i.e., nursing, social work), research on doctoral students and pre-tenure faculty, and the theoretical frameworks of sensemaking and self-authorship to highlight the dynamic relationship between individuals and organizations during the socialization process. Specifically, this model attempts to illuminate the cognitive mechanisms that undergird how individuals interpret their professional socialization. In doing so, the model proposes different ways individuals may make sense of their student affairs graduate training experiences based on (a) whether or not they encounter discrepancies and (b) their developmental capacity for self-authorship. The conceptual model presented here has implications for shaping graduate level coursework and fieldwork within student affairs preparation programs.
Professional socialization, graduate students, graduate education, student affairs, new professionals
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