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The Relationship between Perceived Synergistic Supervision, Job Satisfaction and Commitment to the Profession for Entry-Level Student Affairs Professionals

Caitlin Codding, Johnson & Wales University


The student affairs profession is a challenging and growing field, which requires an advanced level of competence in many areas (Cooper, Mitchell, Eckerle, & Martin, 2016). Professionals with five years or less of experience are the future of the profession and are estimated to compromise approximately 15–20% of the student affairs population (Renn & Hodges, 2007). The reality that between 20–40% of student affairs professionals leave within the first six years of their employment, has led to an ongoing concern regarding attrition and job satisfaction (Davis & Cooper, 2017). This study examined the relationship between the perception of synergistic supervision, job satisfaction and commitment to the profession for new professionals in student affairs. The research was guided by five questions to address potential relationships among perceived synergistic supervision, job satisfaction and four factors of commitment to the profession, and a potential relationship between the supervisor or supervisee demographics and perceived synergistic supervision, affective commitment and normative commitment. This correlational quantitative research collected data from new student affairs professionals affiliated with NASPA from institutions throughout the United States. A multi-component survey questionnaire gathered demographic data (N = 444) about the supervisor and supervised, then utilized the Synergistic Supervision Scale (Saunders, Cooper, Winston, & Chernow, 2000), job satisfaction questions (Job Descriptive Index, n.d.), and organizational commitment tools (Meyer, Allen, & Smith, 1993) to address research questions. Data analysis included Pearson correlations and multiple ANOVA and t-tests to determine potential relationships. Significant correlations were found between perceived synergistic supervision and job satisfaction and affective commitment, but not with continuance, normative, or professional involvement commitment. Significant findings among job satisfaction and affective and normative commitment, as well as between affective, normative, and continuance commitment were presented. A majority of demographic results were not statistically significant for synergistic supervision, affective or normative commitment. Significance was found with affective commitment levels and gender and supervisor professional level, in addition to, normative commitment and supervisor professional level. The results of this research will hopefully improve the supervision and professional development for entry-level professionals to increase their long-term success in the field of student affairs in higher education.

Subject Area

Educational leadership|Higher Education Administration|Occupational psychology

Recommended Citation

Codding, Caitlin, "The Relationship between Perceived Synergistic Supervision, Job Satisfaction and Commitment to the Profession for Entry-Level Student Affairs Professionals" (2019). Dissertation & Theses Collection. AAI13865982.