A Narrative Inquiry Into Factors That Affect Professional Academic Advisors’ Work Engagement

Open Access
Myers, Jennifer L
Graduate Program:
Workforce Education and Development
Doctor of Philosophy
Document Type:
Date of Defense:
February 12, 2015
Committee Members:
  • Judith Ann Kolb, Dissertation Advisor
  • Judith Ann Kolb, Committee Chair
  • Edgar Paul Yoder, Committee Member
  • Cynthia Pellock, Committee Member
  • Mark D Threeton, Committee Member
  • Employee Engagement
  • Academic Advising
  • Higher Education
  • Qualitative Research
  • Narrative Inquiry
  • Work Engagement
The purpose of this study was to examine the factors that impacted the employee engagement of professional academic advisors in a college or university setting. Using the framework of Waldman and Spangler’s Determinates of Individual Job Performance and the Job Demands–Resources (JD–R) Model to guide the research, findings from this study enhance the fields of workforce development and academic advising by enhancing understanding of employee engagement and the factors that influence it, specifically in the field of academic advising. This study brought together existing literature and research related to three areas that laid the foundation for this study: employee engagement, academic advising, and performance. The narrative inquiry method was used to examine the factors that influence the work engagement of academic advisors. The research questions were: (1) What defines the professional academic advisers’ work engagement experience; (2) What factors contribute to the manifestation of highly engaged academic advisers; (3) What self-reported issues negatively impact the work engagement of academic advisers; and (4) What, if any, coping strategies do academic advisers employ to address those issues? A semi-structured interview instrument was developed and trialed using the assistance of 2 individuals serving as participants. Data collection consisted of 15 interviews with 5 professional academic advisors from across the country. Collected data were coded using a line-by-line coding technique. Analysis of data resulted in the development of six themes: Theme 1: Positive Experiences with Advisors; Theme 2: Desire to Help Others; Theme 3: Strategies for Handling Stressful Times; Theme 4: Additional Duties and Responsibilities; Theme 5: Leadership Support and Understanding; Theme 6: Training and Development Opportunities. Findings from this will help leaders of all organizations but especially those in educational institutions that employ professional academic advisors. The information collected could be used by universities administrators, managers, front-line supervisors, and all those with a vested interest in employee engagement and organization success.