Journal of College & University Student Housing Vol. 47 No. 2 - 31

On-Campus Satisfaction of Students with Autism

their consumers (i.e., students), then they
are more likely to improve their satisfaction.
When there is a positive effect and student
satisfaction is high, then, according to expectation confirmation theory, the product
is beneficial to consumers and therefore
positively supports them during their time
in college.

PURPOSE AND RELEVANCE
We explored individual and group expectations of the residential experience of a
group of on-campus residents with ASD.
If residence life and housing professionals
understand the expectations of these students, then they can bolster their satisfaction
and overall student experience. Our central
purpose was to describe the expectations
of on-campus students who identify themselves as being on the autism spectrum. Our
primary research question was " What are
the expectations of on-campus students who
identify on the autism spectrum? " Findings
from this research study may aid housing
and residence life professionals from multiple functional areas such as residence education, marketing and communications, and
academic initiatives in meeting the expectations of residents who identify on the autism
spectrum. By understanding, managing, and
meeting the expectations of these students,
residence life and housing professionals can
improve the overall student experience and
their chances for success.

METHODS
We used a constructivist, qualitative paradigm (Lincoln & Guba, 1985) to employ a
phenomenological design using individual,
semi-structured interviews to understand
the essence of the shared experiences of students with autism living in on-campus hous-

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The Journal of College and University Student Housing

ing. The phenomenological design strives to
uncover the essence of the on-campus experience of these students with an emphasis on
their expectations. " These essences are the
core meanings mutually understood through
a phenomenon commonly experienced "
(Patton, 2002, p. 106). The context for this
study was a large public land-grant university
in the southern United States. The research
site involved a traditional housing operation
with more than 11,000 beds in both apartments and residence halls. No live-on campus requirement was enforced. We centered
the study on the stories of students with
autism and their experiences and expectations related to university-managed housing.
The study and associated protocol were approved by the Institutional Review Board at
the research site.

Population and Recruitment
The target population was all on-campus residents who identify on the autism spectrum;
the accessible population was on-campus
residents who self-identified on the autism
spectrum at the research site in the fall
2019 semester. A roster method was used
to recruit participants (Marsden, 1990). All
8,417 students living on campus (including
student staff but excluding Reserve Officers'
Training Corps housing due to their unique
housing experience) in the fall 2019 semester received an invitation via their university
email addresses to participate. A total of 1,154
students responded (14% response rate) to
the screener question " Do you identify as
an individual on the autism spectrum? " Of
the 1,154 responses, a total of 78 respondents
self-reported being on the autism spectrum.
Of these, 21 respondents agreed to be interviewed, but only seven ultimately completed
an in-person semi-structured interview at the
time of data saturation.



Journal of College & University Student Housing Vol. 47 No. 2

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