Master of Arts in Higher Education Theses

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

First Advisor

Stephen Bedi

Second Advisor

Scott Gaier

Third Advisor

Tim Herrmann


The purpose of this study was to understand the elements of self-authorship and the methods faculty used to promote self-authorship at a private, faith-based institution. Self-authorship is a developmental theory and framework that explores how people develop cognitively, intrapersonally, and interpersonally. In self-authorship, individuals move from externally defining who they are, what they believe, and how they relate to others, to internally defining their identity, beliefs, and relationships. The capacity to internally define one’s identity, beliefs, and relationships is essential in order to live an intentional, purposeful, and meaningful life.

Higher education institutions are ideal environments for the development of self-authorship in students. Students are in the midst of discovering who they are and who they desire to become. During this time, faculty have the opportunity to support and challenge students to internally define their identity, beliefs, and relationships. Research in the process and outcomes of self-authorship is relatively new, and a gap exists regarding the development of self-authorship within a private, faith-based institution (PFI). Therefore, this study was guided by the following two questions:

1) Which elements (processes and outcomes) of self-authorship do faculty at a PFI seek to promote?

2) What are the methods faculty use that are most helpful in promoting these elements of self-authorship in their students?

A phenomenological, qualitative study was utilized in answering these questions. Findings included the elements of self-authorship faculty desire to instill in students, the methods they use to develop these elements, and the influence of faculty traits and motivation in their teaching and relating with students. Implications and recommendations for practice followed and focus on the importance of hiring faculty who demonstrate traits found to foster self-authorship in students, as well as a faculty development program that instructs faculty and student development professionals in the foundation, processes, and outcomes of self-authorship.