Higher Education Ph.D. Dissertations


Resident Advisor Selection: Is a Broad Measure of Personality a Good Predictor of Resident Advisor Performance?

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


Higher Education Administration

First Advisor

Maureen Wilson (Committee Chair)

Second Advisor

Michael Coomes (Committee Member)

Third Advisor

Dafina-Lazarus Stewart (Committee Member)

Fourth Advisor

Stephen Langendorfer (Committee Member)


Resident advisors (RAs) are the foundation of nearly every residence hall program in the United States (Blimling, 2010). RAs play a pivotal role in the development of the whole student and supporting the educational mission of higher education and selection of the most qualified applicants is imperative to the success of the residence hall program. Although residence life professionals attempt to improve RA selection in hopes of identifying the most qualified students for these roles, researchers have found few proven systematic techniques to select the most qualified candidates for the RA positions. This study sought to examine if the five-factor model of personality was a good predictor of RA performance at one large, rural, public, four-year university in the Midwest. Secondary purposes were to determine if demographic variables affected RA performance. The major variables for this study included gender, class rank, experience as a RA, grade point average, academic major, type of residents, residential learning community, RA evaluation overall and sub-scores, and IPIP-NEO scores. RAs were surveyed to gather demographic and personality information while RA performance data were gathered from existing performance evaluations from their supervisors at the participant institution.

Multiple regressions were conducted using both the International Personality Item Pool -“Neuroticism, Openness to Experience, and Extraversion scale and RA performance data. Only openness to experience significantly predicted overall fall RA performance; however, none of the five factors predicted overall spring RA performance. Despite insignificant results related to overall performance, the five-factor model was related significantly to several of the sub-categories of RA performance (e.g., fall policies and procedures scores). Only grade point average, class rank, RA experience, and the number of residents living on the floor had a large effect size on RA performance after performing several ANOVAs and t-tests.

This study differs from past literature that supported the five-factor model as a significant predictor and/or relationship with RA performance because none of the past studies found openness to experience to have a significant relationship with RA performance. Implications of the findings and recommendations for future research are discussed.