Date of Award

January 2021

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Education, Health & Behavior Studies

First Advisor

Deborah Worley


An institution of higher education holds certain beliefs about the personal growth of students while they are enrolled. The behavior prohibited within the student misconduct policies reflect the norms within the larger society as well as the expectations specific to the learning environment within the institution. Students adhering to the expectations defined in these policies are perceived as embracing these beliefs, which enhances the character and resulting community member the student becomes upon graduation. In an opportunity to understand and resolve the concern of having an overly legalistic published policies for student misconduct, this qualitative study reviewed the content of codes of student conduct and published rules for students at Minnesota State University Moorhead from the start of the college through the span of 120 years. The evolution of the institution and student misconduct policies was studied through qualitative historical document analysis of archived student handbooks and annual catalogues and bulletins at the institution within the noted timeframe of 1887 through 2007. Using this design allowed for the holistic understanding of the data given the researcher’s professional knowledge, the setting of the college, and the evolution of the institution. The findings included evidence of the dynamic evolution of policies; an increased proportion of policies that reference criminal law, state statute, and federal law; and the changes in policies that reflect the contextual landscape changes of the institution. In the advent of “model codes”, this study provides a framework for student conduct practitioners to conduct a review of the student misconduct policies on a college or university campus.