Leadership Studies Ed.D. Dissertations


To Stay or Go? A Qualitative Investigation of the Motivational Factors Influencing the Career Ascension of Academic Advisors in Higher Education Institutions

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)


Leadership Studies

First Advisor

Judith Jackson May (Advisor)

Second Advisor

Madeline Duntley (Other)

Third Advisor

Christy Galletta Horner (Committee Member)

Fourth Advisor

LaDonna Moore (Committee Member)

Fifth Advisor

Chris Willis (Committee Member)


Prior research confirms academic advising has a significant and positive impact on student retention and persistence to graduation (Astin, 1993; Habley, 1994; Klepfer & Hull, 2012; McGillin, 2000; Noel, 1978; Tinto, 1987; Wyckoff, 1999). The purpose of this research was to explore the motivational factors of full-time, professional, female academic advisors at four-year public institutions in Ohio on their career decisions to remain in the field of advising, leave their positions or attempt to ascend in academic advising.

Thirteen full-time, professional, female academic advisors employed at five different four-year public institutions in Ohio served as the participants in this phenomenological study. All interviews were conducted via phone due to severe travel restrictions imposed during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The results of this study were analyzed using Creswell’s (2012) streamlined version of the Moustakas’ Stevick-Colaizzi-Keen modification. Three overarching concepts emerged from the findings. First, while no singular motivation was offered as a motivation to leave the profession, compensation or salary was the area of frustration mentioned most frequently. Second, career ascension was pursued by academic advisors predominately motivated by a desire to have a greater impact or make a difference for an increased number of students. Third, the motivation to remain in their current positions originated from their desire to help others. Novel themes emerging from the current study not present in existing literature include the impact of furloughs, the tendency of the supervisors of academic advisors to remain in their position for prolonged periods of time, and the need to seek advancement by leaving the institution or field of academic advising.