Pamela Graglia


Rodriguez, Katrina L.


Lahman, Maria K. Ea

Committee Member

Gimmestad, Michael J.

Committee Member

Smith, Mark A.


Higher Education & Student Leadership


University of Northern Colorado

Type of Resources


Place of Publication

Greeley (Colo.)


University of Northern Colorado

Date Created





258 pages

Digital Origin

Born digital


Current research on change and transformation in higher education frequently relies on models which "clean up" the messy process of creating change into easily consumed lists of strategies. However these reductive strategies may be incomplete and alternatives which provide a more complex picture of the process of change have been suggested. Additionally, while sensemaking has been identified as critical to transformation, little research exists on meaning making during change processes in higher education settings. Using social constructivist epistemology and a postmodern theoretical framework, the purpose of this qualitative inquiry was to explore how individuals in a higher education organization make meaning of a process intended as transformational change. This 12 month case study of a complex residence life organization at a large research university included 45 individual and six group interviews, 340 hours of observation and document collection, and an extensive researcher reflexivity journal. The resulting postmodern portrait blurs the boundaries of academic writing, literature, and art. The account displays the intersections of roles, relationships and responsibilities across an organization during a change process, and explores how individual perceptions and relationships contribute to personal and collective meaning-making. Further, the methodological framework of this study and the resulting "messy text" was designed to disrupt the metanarrative of the authoritative researcher voice and invite the reader into the analysis. While traditional research focuses on definitive findings, this inquiry contributes to the literature by raising questions and evoking reflection on the nature of creating transformational change in higher education. Additionally, the intent of this postmodern inquiry is to shift the paradigm of what it means to generate knowledge in the area of transformation in higher education from a focus on how practitioners create change to a focus on how practitioners think about creating change. In keeping with the methodological intentions of this study, practitioners were invited to read and respond to the narrative. The need to think holistically and systemically, being other-focused, knowing personal and organizational stories, and the importance of pausing in practice to make individual and group meaning were identified as salient when considering implications of this inquiry around change.


[Released from 2 year embargo]

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