Date of Award



© 2017 Lisa Myers

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)



First Advisor

Carol Burbank

Second Advisor

Shelley McClure

Third Advisor

Glenda Ballard


This qualitative study explored the narratives of ten post-traditional students enrolled in a degree completion program in a small, regional public university. The narratives provide insight of post-traditional students and their experiences with self-authorship: a way of knowing that empowers people to skillfully navigate life from consciously constructed epistemological, intrapersonal, and interpersonal paradigms. The findings in this study revealed that 6 of 10 of the participants demonstrated decision-making at lower levels of self-authorship, with half those indicating movement toward self-authorship and the other half exhibiting no indication of self-authorship. The participants also demonstrated the same patterns of self-authorship development as that revealed by traditional students. Self-authorship does not automatically generalize across situations or developmental dimensions, and it is not a permanent attribute once attained. Its presence fluctuates throughout life and requires ongoing reflection and exercise to remain active.

The majority of the participants revealed some degree of underdeveloped self-authorship, which reflected the already established research, and demonstrated the same struggles with self-authorship development as traditional students. The findings of this study suggest the need for holistic developmental models of support to the growing post-traditional student population in higher education, specifically in the area of self-authorship development. Extending support for self-authorship development to the growing population of post-traditional students in college can address concerns that many adults do not exhibit self-authored behavior. Lack of self-authorship may limit successful interaction with complex and/or ambiguous situations in professional and personal settings. Such support can also help students realize the self-development potential in the journey toward earning a degree and hopefully lead them to understand their own self-authorship as an ongoing life-learning project.


Ed.D. Dissertation