Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Educational Leadership, Research and Technology

First Advisor

Dr. Louann Bierlein Palmer

Second Advisor

Dr. Monica Lininger

Third Advisor

Dr. Mark Orbe


Student engagement, male student engagement, gender role conflict, NSSE, GRCS


Male enrollment and graduate rates in higher education have paled in comparison to female achievement since the early 1980’s, and explanations as to the reasons behind why males are falling behind have not been fruitful in addressing these issues. One area that has received very little attention in the literature is the role that gender role conflict may play in male student performance.

The purpose of this research is to explore male and female engagement levels, while attempting to understand if levels of male gender role conflict are a mediating factor of engagement for men. This study utilized the three subscales of Collaborative Learning, Quality of Interaction and Student/Faculty Interaction from the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE), and all four factors of the Gender Role Conflict Scale (GRCS) (National Survey of Student Engagement, 2013a; O’Neil, 1986) in order to explore to what extent male gender role conflict is a mediating factor of engagement for males in higher education. The four factors of the GRCS are: Success, Power, and Competition, Restrictive Emotionality, Restrictive Affectionate Behavior Between Men - Homophobia, and Conflicts Between Work and Leisure – Family Relations.

Survey instruments were distributed in the Winter 2014 semester using convenience sampling of undergraduate students at a large Midwestern university. A correlational analyses yielded significant relationships between responses for the GRCS subscale of Restrictive Emotionality, and Student Faculty Interaction, in addition to NSSE total score. Relationships were also noted between Restrictive Affectionate Behavior Between Men and Quality of Interactions, as well as GRCS total score and Student Faculty Interaction, Quality of Interactions, and NSSE total score. The student demographic category of year of birth was significantly correlated with Success Power and Competition, while college major was significantly correlated with Collaborative Learning. Lastly, the education level of the first parent/legal guardian was correlated with Restrictive Affectionate Behavior Between Men, while student education level at the institution was correlated with Quality of Interactions. Regression models utilizing these correlations yielded significant coefficients with varied predictability.

Overall, this study found that gender role conflict was a mediating factor of engagement for college males. This is the first known study to connect male gender role conflict to engagement levels on the National Survey of Student Engagement. Limitations and implications for future research are also addressed.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access