Award Date


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Educational Leadership

First Committee Member

Robert Ackerman

Number of Pages



Understanding the meanings of cultural artifacts on college campuses can provide new students with a way of learning an institution's culture and values. To help communicate the meanings of cultural artifacts, new student orientation is a common activity that provides institutions, particularly orientation units, with an opportunity to acculturate first-year students into a collegiate environment. The purpose of this qualitative study was to explore how orientation directors and orientation leaders perceive their roles in communicating the meanings of cultural artifacts to first-year students at four public universities in California. In-depth and focus groups interviews were conducted with participants over the course of two site visits. To explore the extent the meanings of cultural artifacts were addressed, the researcher conducted an analysis of orientation unit documents as well as observations of orientation leader training sessions. In addition to these issues, the researcher explored the categorization of cultural artifacts along with the messages sent by artifacts to first-year students through the perceptions of the participants and analysis of the additional data sources; While all of the participants interviewed were able to discuss their roles in communicating the meanings of cultural artifacts to first-year students, the orientation leaders tended to have a greater role in and appreciation for the phenomenon than the orientation directors. The orientation leaders identified formal and informal ways in which they communicate the meanings of cultural artifacts to first-year students attending orientation sessions. Two of the orientation directors identified having active roles in the phenomenon and pointed to their alumni status as influential, while the other two directors perceived their role as passive or non-existent; The participants acknowledged that physical, behavioral, and verbal artifacts were appropriate categories to describe artifacts at their institutions. Affective artifacts and multiple dimension artifacts were additional categories that emerged in the data. The orientation directors and orientation leaders identified positive messages of inspiration and inclusion and negative messages of intimidation and offensiveness sent by cultural artifacts to first-year students. Implications of these findings for theory, practice, policy, and future research are discussed in the final chapter.


Artifacts; Communicating; Cultural; Cultural Artifacts; Exploratory; Meanings; New Student Orientation; Orientation; Orientation Directors; Orientation Leaders; Orientation Programs; Orientation Units; Orientation Directors

Controlled Subject

Education, Higher; School management and organization; Educational counseling

File Format


File Size

4710.4 KB

Degree Grantor

University of Nevada, Las Vegas




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