Educational Administration, Department of


Date of this Version

Spring 4-23-2015


Donahue, B. P. (2015). Impact of being a resident assistant on a student's academic success (MA thesis, University of Nebraska-Lincoln).


A THESIS Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Master of Arts, Major: Educational Administration, Under the Supervision of Professor Barbra LaCost. Lincoln, Nebraska: May, 2015

Copyright (c) 2015 Brian P. Donahue


The purpose of this mixed-methods study was to examine the experiences and needs of resident assistants at Great Plains University institution to better understand the impact that being a resident assistant has on the resident assistant’s academic success. A quantitative survey was created and sent to 175 resident assistants to their academic success strategies. In addition, six resident assistants were interviewed to gain a deeper understanding of the multiple roles assumed, the support systems in place, and the studying habits in which they engage regularly.

There were two research questions that guided the exploration of this study. The first research question of this study was what are the core practices that resident assistants engage in in their goal of being academically successful? This was divided into three sub-questions: (a) What support systems are in place for RAs to be academically successful? (b) How do resident assistants’ experiences differ among the varied environments in which they serve? (c) How do the different roles of RAs affect their academic success? The second and last research question is what overall purpose are these resident assistants fulfilling?

The findings of this study inform student affairs practitioners that work within Residence Life Departments and directly supervise undergraduate staffs that work in the residence halls. The findings indicated that resident assistant’s motivations, behaviors, environment, and academic success can influence one another and determine if they persist in the resident assistant role. This mixed-methods research study provides recommendations for practices as well as recommendations for future research.

Adviser: Barbara Y. LaCost