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UBC Theses and Dissertations

A decision-making framework for student judicial affairs Twynam, Nancy Jean


Senior Student Affairs Officers (SSAOs) play an important role in post-secondary institutions ensuring their institutions’ policies, goals and strategic plans are respected while simultaneously supporting students’ academic and campus life needs. Their work is complex, challenging and constantly changing; the decisions they make can impact reputations, academic careers and the integrity of programs and institutions. It would be assumed, then, that the literature is replete with first-hand accounts of how SSAOs do their jobs, what skills they need, and what tools they use. Surprisingly, this is not the case. While the literature is not lacking research about the profession generally, it has limited personal accounts by practitioners describing the work they do, and how they make their complex decisions. This dissertation addresses this issue by presenting a first hand account of my work as a SSAO. In addition to a commitment to add to the student affairs literature base, the purpose of this study was to develop a decision-making model that would provide a structure to my practice and guide a process to develop consistent and fair courses of action. I began the task by reviewing existing decision-making models and making a series of adaptations that would create a framework that would be useful in my decision-making efforts. I then constructed four vignettes, exemplifying the types of issues I encounter in my role as a SSAO. Each vignette was used sequentially to test and critique the decision-making framework thereby indicating places where refinements were needed. The first three vignettes were instrumental in illustrating and exposing the shortcomings of the framework. The fourth vignette provided a scenario that challenged the model and suggested where limitations lie not just in the framework, but also in the work of SSAOs. The end result of this iterative process is a refined two-stage decision-making framework. This work has added to the literature of the student affairs profession; it provides a much needed tool, a decision-making framework that can assist practitioners in their role of providing consistent and fair decisions in an environment fraught with change and uncertainties.

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