Campus Location

Dallas Campus (Online)

Date of Award


Document Type



Organizational Leadership

Degree Name

Doctor of Education

Committee Chair or Primary Advisor

Dr. Peter Williams

Second Committee Member or Secondary Advisor

Dr. Stuart Allen

Third Committee Member or Committee Reader

Dr. Rick Zomer


This study identified the competencies and outputs associated with the role of student support specialists (SSS) in science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM) bridge programs in the community colleges of Silicon Valley. The growth of STEM education, coupled with the increasing diversity of student population in community colleges, has made the work of SSS professionals in the region challenging. While the SSS professionals are often positioned as comprehensive, nonacademic support for STEM students, not enough has been documented on the competencies and outputs associated with SSS role in STEM bridge programs. In addition, most studies on student affairs professionals primarily reported broad competencies that did not necessarily apply to skills required to support STEM students. Using Delphi Method that employed three rounds of data collection and analyses, 19 experts were surveyed in STEM and student affairs and their responses were analyzed using median and interquartile range (IQR). After generating the competencies, their alignment was examined with the competencies in the 2015 American College Personnel Association (ACPA) and the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA). Results showed that 36 of the 40 outputs rated were considered essential based on the experts’ median and IQR scores. In the same manner, experts rated 34 of the 43 competencies as essential based on their median and IQR scores. The top competencies identified were consistent with previously published studies’ findings, in which 17 of these competencies were related to human relations, collaborations, communication, and working with diverse populations. The crosswalk analysis also revealed that the study-generated competencies were in alignment with the professional competencies in the 2015 ACPA/NASPA document. Most of the competencies were related to organization and human resources (32%), followed by advising and supporting, student learning and development, and leadership with 12% each. Among the most rarely cited competencies were related to competency areas such as personal and ethical foundation (6%), technology (6%), and law, policy, and governance (3%). Recommendations and implications of the results for practice in human resources included hiring, talent management, and professional development and training of employees and for future research were discussed.

Keywords: student affairs professionals, professional competencies, Delphi model, human relations skills, organization and human resources.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.