Strategic planning within Student Affairs at four-year higher education institutions
The purpose of this study was to understand the strategic planning practices within Student Affairs organizations at four-year higher education institutions within the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) accrediting region. This descriptive study was designed to determine to what extent divisions of Student Affairs are engaging in strategic planning and employing effective practices. Using a survey research design, this quantitative, non-experimental study was conducted to identify and understand the strategic planning practices of divisions of Student Affairs as perceived by Chief Student Affairs Officers (CSAOs). Using a principal components analysis (PCA), this study identified the constructs that describe how Student Affairs leaders perceive practices associated with strategic planning in their divisions. Also, using t tests and factorial ANOVAs, the results were analyzed for significant differences based on institution classification (public, private) and institutional size (small, large). Regarding CSAO perceptions of the strategic planning practices used within their divisions, five component scales with acceptable reliability coefficients were produced from the PCA: Strategic Planning Process, Addressing Change, Strategic Planning Awareness and Understanding, Implementing Strategic Plans, and External Requirements. These scales represented the underlying constructs with regard to CSAOs' perceptions of strategic planning practices. Descriptive statistics were produced for these scales. The factorial ANOVA results indicated one main effect of institution classification for the External Requirements scale and one interaction effect of institution classification and institutional size for the Implementing Strategic Plans scale, both with relatively small effect sizes. Overall, the scales were found to be consistent across types of institutions and did not differ significantly based on institution classification or institutional size. Based on these findings, implications for practice and suggestions for future research were presented.