Teacher Education, Educational Leadership & Policy ETDs

Publication Date



The purpose of this investigation was to analyze problems of and solutions to student discontent as viewed by university administrators and student leaders. In addition, the responsibilities, future, and roles of these two groups were investigated, along with questions about the involvement of faculty and students in protest issues and their value positions. Talcott Parsons' theoretical framework, which includes the concept of functional imperatives, was used to achieve deeper interpretation of the results. Several hypotheses derived from Parsons' theory were set forth and tested.

Data were collected on the respondents' personal backgrounds, on reactions to stud��nt discontent and its solutions, on the respondents' values, and on current issues. The instruments used to collect the data were an interview schedule containing seven open-ended questions, a closed-ended questionnaire adapted from Roscoe's Polyphasic Value Inventory, and Peterson's Survey of Protest Issues.

The respondent population consisted of ninety­three administrators and one hundred student leaders at The University of New Mexico.

Interview responses were analyzed with the binomial test and the value and issue responses were analyzed with the chi-square statistical test. Additional open-ended interview data were categorized under Talcott ��arsons' four functional imperatives for deeper interpretation.

The results confirmed that student discontent is a multi-dimensional phenomenon, factors of which might be fruitfully categorized under Parsons' four functional imperatives. Some of the factors identified were failures of the educational process, new student awareness, domestic social problems-, and communications. As viewed by the two populations, responsibility for student discontent remained somewhat unclear. Contrary to predictions set forth, there were no statistically significant differences found between the value positions of administrators and student leaders on nine of ten items of the Polyphasic Value Inventory.

Administrators and student leaders envisioned a different role responsibility toward student discontent. In line with recent research, it was also found that the role of protest issues does not appear to relate to values which are verbally expressed. Significant differences were found between students and administrators on eighteen items of the Survey of Protest Issues, an instru­ment which deals with estimates of student and faculty involvement in protest issues.

Thirty per cent of the student leaders and twelve per cent of the administrators described student discontent as having virtually no solution. Some of the suggested solutions were increased cooperation of all segments of the university, eliminating domestic social problems, better communications, and an all-university governing body.

It appears from the present study that student discontent may become more complex and difficult to predict in the future. One reason is that the respondent population tended to offer a large number of rather general or unrealistic solutions to student discontent. Second, a great deal of the research on student discontent continues to focus on single factor explanations. Finally, the current study provides some additional support for the view that there is an intimate relation­ship between society's problems and factors underlying student discontent.

Document Type




Degree Name

Educational Leadership

Level of Degree


Department Name

Teacher Education, Educational Leadership & Policy

First Committee Member (Chair)

Herbert Howard Hughes

Second Committee Member

Jim Duff Hughey

Third Committee Member

Richard M. Gorman

Fourth Committee Member

Harold Eugene Kenney