Gregory Ochoa

Defense Date


Graduation Date

Summer 2008


Immediate Access

Submission Type


Degree Name



Interdisciplinary Doctoral Program for Education Leaders (IDPEL)


School of Education

Committee Chair

James E. Henderson

Committee Member

Robert B. Bartos

Committee Member

Roger L. Serr


character development, university students, student affairs, mentoring


This qualitative study examined the perceived effects of a mentoring relationship between a student and a student affairs professional on the student's character development from the perspective of both the student and the student affairs professional. The purpose of this study was to add to the body of literature and to inform the field of student affairs regarding this phenomenon. A hermeneutic phenomenological methodology best suited the epistemological philosophy chosen to understand the perceptions of the participants regarding the role of the mentoring relationship on character development.

A literature review was conducted from the fields of student affairs, higher education, character education, moral development and qualitative research to enlighten the study. In the fall 2006 semester, the researcher interviewed 5 student affairs professionals and their corresponding student protégés for a total sample of 10 participants. Data was collected from tape-recorded conversations using questions to encourage discussion in an effort to have personal life stories shared with the researcher.

After all participants were interviewed, the researcher interpreted and analyzed the data. The current study indicated that student affairs professionals serving as informal mentors can enhance the student's character development. The data also showed that focusing on character development in colleges and universities is an effective use of the student affairs professional's time and institutional resources. One implication from the data illuminated that the sharing of personal information from the student affairs professional aids in the development of the student's character development. Another implication discovered from the data is for student affairs professionals to be aware of the numerous opportunities to make an impact on the character development of students in the college and university setting and to make an effort to deliberately seek out opportunities to form mentoring relationships.